Customer Service How To Avert A Driver Personality Style Blow Up

By Bob Phibbs

Driver personality style in retail sales trainingI was training a group of about twenty store retail store managers on personality styles.

I was highlighting the differences between the four personality types; the Driver, Analytical, Expressive and Amiable.

I spoke about extensively the Driver personality style. That's because I am one.

Characteristics of the Driver include a bit of an aggressive nature, results oriented, "cut to the chase" mentality. (Think: Donald Trump.) These are strengths that can lead others to see the Driver as blunt, domineering and risk takers.

We were all to go out to a local restaurant. The client's coordinator had us fill out one of four choices of entree and soup or salad and dressing choice by noon and faxed to the restaurant to save time.

We arrived at about 6 pm to find a table set for 30 of us out on the patio. Drink orders were placed and we assumed dinner would be coming shortly. This wasn't a problem as our sales training had gone great for the day so there was a lot to talk about. About 7:30pm people noticed they hadn't received their food.

About 7:45 pm 80% of the salads arrived and one or two entrees. By 8:30 we were still missing two dinners when we saw the waiter approach the VP and apologize. Apparently the VP asked him why the manager hadn't come out. The manger then told the VP that it was the manger who said for him to come and and talk to the VP.

I went back to our table conversation and next thing I knew I heard the VP say to a guy appearing to be the manager in a loud voice, "You have to be the stupidest people in the state." All conversation ended at the three long tables as we all looked to see what the manager was going to say.

A truck passed by us through the parking lot. Instead of apologizing, the manager restated, "So you think we are the stupidest people in the state?" The VP got even more steamed as he yelled, "No, you're the stupidest people in the U.S." With that the manager left without saying a word.

What would happen? Would we pay the bill? What would the managers say?

I used it as a training opportunity and asked those at my table,"What was really going on here?"

The managers correctly saw that the Driver personality was upset because the restaurant had failed to perform and looked bad. It wasn't because attendees were complaining. He wasn't looking for a discount, they had failed to provide the results he expected.

After a few minutes another employee went in to counsel the restaurant manager that he had to go back out there if he expected to be paid. The manager returned, asked if the could speak privately, offered 15% off the bill and took full responsibility for the debacle. While placated and sorry he blew up, the VP swore off ever returning to that restaurant.

The whole thing could have been averted.

When the one waiter was overwhelmed, the manger could have come out and said, "We're over our heads, can I get you some appetizers on the house or something until we get it right?" He could have jumped in and helped. He could have done lots of things if he had realized there was only one customer, the guy paying the bill who was a Driver personality, but he didn't.

By the time he approached the VP all reason was lost; Driver personalities never want to look bad.

Well who does really?

See also, How To Help Your Retail Employees Evolve So They Can Create Exceptional Customer Experiences

What to do with customer delays regardless of personality styles...

If you have a business where there are deadlines or orders are dependent on others to do their job, never wait for the customer to contact you. Be proactive and tell them you've checked on an order and tell them it is "6 weeks out "if it is 4. You'll be a hero if it arrives at 5.

Call them when you know it is shipped. That's all any reasonable person wants. No customer will be upset with updates - what they get steamed about are delays where they have to call and check.

Even if you tell them initially an order would take 7 weeks, it is not unreasonable, if they've given you a deposit, for them to be anxious to receive it and call you in a week to ask for an update. Remember what the customer would feel like.

Keep customers informed of delays and regardless of your personality type, you'll hear, "Thank you" instead of how stupid you are.

To discover your personality style, check the red button below for the free quiz.

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