Turning Complicated Programs into Simple Truths

Organizations often seek improvements to their culture that are easy to comprehend: better communication, enhanced leadership skills, and so on.  But as all trainers know, these straightforward concepts are not necessarily a snap to implement.  In fact, intricate programs and complex thinking are often needed to explain these so-called simple ideas to participants. 

A customer service call center needed help to improve their efficiency.

The call center’s environment was one of high stress and stagnant innovation.  Lackluster effort was common, and the workers’ gaps in technical knowledge were obvious.  The analysis was that the employees had inferior telephone skills and needed help developing their communication abilities.  They also had no understanding of their own behavioral patterns, and their colleagues’ styles were even more of a mystery.  In addition, knowledge often was not communicated to the workers, which was a result of the managers avoiding their responsibilities.

Before a solution could be created information had to be collected about the call center and its environment.  Employees and managers were interviewed to find out what issues they faced.  Also, actual calls to the center were listened in on and several of them were taped for transcription. 

The call center’s training was customized from their challenges.  The training began by increasing the participant’s knowledge of themselves.  The DiSC Classic Profile was the foundation to the solution.  However the DiSC PPSS (DiSC General Characteristics Report) and the Personal Listening Profile were also used to supplement the participants’ learning process.

In Phase One of the training, the DiSC Classic Profile, the DiSC PPSS (DiSC General Characteristics Report), and the Personal Listening Profile were administered to the participants.  Following, was a discussion of the DiSC Classic Profile, the DiSC PPSS (DiSC General Characteristics Report) and the Personal Listening Profile’s results, which allowed the employees to learn more about their own behaviors and motivations.

To move the discussion beyond the abstract, the participants’ insights were applied to the transcriptions of the recorded customer calls.  Any reference to a specific worker was removed so that none of the participants would feel embarrassed.  Then the employees took turns role-playing the actual phone conversations.  The result was a dramatic display of the pitfalls of personal interaction.

The participants saw the mistakes and assumptions that their colleagues were making with customers and in some cases, they saw the mistakes they were making, but from a new perspective.

The role–playing exercises continued into Phase Two of the training.  The DiSC model was a constant reference point, and the participants began to see the connections between style and effective communication.  During this time the DiSC Action Planners and helpful listening activities were introduced.

Phase Three included the administration of the Time Mastery Profile.  The participants learned about prioritization and proper time management, and the lessons of the first two phases and their respective instruments were reinforced throughout the section.  At this point the participants role-played the transcriptions one more time, taking care to apply their insights of all the various Inscape Publishing profiles to the real-world examples.

With the formal session ending, one-on-one coaching was segued to ensure that the participants’ new skills took hold.  Also the workers created action plans, which were solidified with the help of a “buddy system” of colleagues.  The goal was to make skills turn into habits.  The staff needed to have time to work on the lessons of the training.

Those lessons included identifying possible causes for miscommunication.  Participants saw how earlier interactions with colleagues or customers had gone wrong, and they tried to learn from these errors by recognizing how behavioral styles and perception play a vital role.  The workers also leaned how to improve the speed and effectiveness of their interactions with customers, and some even applied their insights outside of work.

Measuring the ultimate success of training is a difficult task.  For the most part you rely on anecdotal evidence to show a job well done. 

The call center increased its scores on a 25-item list of customer service standards.  Key metrics also rose, including the professionalism rating, which surged to 97%.

The organization’s goal of hitting the benchmarks of good service was met.  The complexity of the solution did not overwhelm the participants, and in fact, it helped them learn the simple truths of interpersonal communication. 

Since training is about asking people to modify their behavior, you first have to understand their behavior, and that is why DiSC is always a good profile to begin with.  Then, depending on the situation the use of additional tools from Inscape Publishing can help.

DiSC Case Study from Inscape Publishing