How Social Styles Can Improve Your Customer Experience

There's a way to better deal with customers and with each other.

Articles published April 5, 2018

We’ve likely all experienced trying to work with someone who just seems like a pain — whether on a volunteer board, in the workplace, or from a group project in your school days. You can likely recall how difficult it was to communicate with that person or to see the issue through to a completion.

Similarly, in the contact center world, customers calling in to resolve their problem can occasionally be hard to work with and make it difficult to figure out a solution. They might be too angry, not very talkative, or uncooperative. These situations can be frustrating for all parties, and can be detrimental to your employees, your overall customer service, and the customer’s experience.

But what if there was a better way to understand and communicate with customers and with each other?

That’s the basis of Social Styles®, a leading behavioral style model founded by the Tracom Group. Social Styles training has been used by thousands of organizations around the world to help improve relationships, organizational culture, leadership performance, and sales.

There are four unique social styles: Analytical, Amiable, Driving, and Expressive. 

The Four Social Styles

  • Analytical Style. Analytical people are thinkers. They need a lot of information before making decisions, so they often ask a lot of questions. A closer look shows that they have the need to be right, and their biggest area for growth is making a point to speak their mind.
  • Amiable Style. Amiable people are focused on relationships. They openly show emotions and are often seen as friendly and warm. Amiable people need personal security, and struggle at initiating things.
  • Driving Style. Driving people prefer to control their emotions and are often seen as efficient and assertive. Driving people need results. They are quick to act but slow to listen.
  • Expressive Style. Expressive people are creative and enjoy sharing their ideas and perspectives with others. Ultimately, they need personal approval, and thrive off of spontaneity.

The Benefits of Social Styles

With an understanding of your personal Social Style as well as knowledge of the other three styles, you are better equipped to manage your own attitude and recognize why others might respond the way they do to a given situation. When armed with this understanding, people are more in tune with one another and collaborate better, catering to strengths and avoiding weaknesses.

Benefit to Contact Center Agents

The four Social Styles aim to help co-workers get along with each other, since they help us understand where each person is coming from and how they communicate. While this is valuable in any workplace, it’s certainly valued in the contact center world, where working together and functioning as a team of agents is imperative for quality customer service.

Consider this: An individual with a Driving Social Style has a disagreement with an Amiable Social Style because the Driving is acting without listening to the Amiable, and the Amiable has been hiding how they feel about this until now. However, both co-workers know their own Social Style, so they are able resolve their issue because the Driving takes the time to listen to the Amiable, and the Amiable is finally able to say what they were feeling.

Improved Customer Experience

We are social people. And Social Styles impact every social interaction and the customer experience as a whole. Think about when customers call in, email, or chat customer support with their problems. To resolve their issues, it takes some type of social interaction. With an understanding of the Social Styles, it’s easier to identify where customers are coming from and how they communicate. A contact center agent can use their knowledge of Social Styles to effectively manage difficult situations and know what to say to put the customer at ease and give them a great experience.

For example, consider an agent who is having an interaction with a customer that is asking question after question. The agent knows this line of dialogue is not leading to a resolution. As the interaction continues, the agent becomes marginally confrontational in an innocent attempt to gain control of the conversation. When the customer does not respond well to this and continues the questions, the agent realizes this could be due to the customer being Analytical Style. By recognizing this, the agent knows to begin answering the questions directly and to provide additional context he or she knows will resolve the issue. Understanding the customer’s social style leads to an experience that is aligned with the customer, rather than the company or agent needs. 

The Bottom Line: Communication is Key

At the end of the day, our work is all about patience and recognizing where people are coming from — putting yourself in someone else’s shoes in a more deliberate way so you can be more cooperative with one another. And we can all benefit from a deeper understanding of the different ways people communicate.

These are the kinds of skills and strengths you can count on when partnering with a contact center. By understanding and applying the Social Styles across multiple industries and personalities, our agents become more adept in their ability to build and execute on a customer experience strategy that is aligned with your company needs and, more importantly, your customer’s needs. 

How could knowledge of communication styles improve your organization’s customer experience?