Monday, June 10, 2013

Using Standardized Personality Tests to Hire Service Advisors or Are You Phlegmatic?

As far back as 1775, the Swiss poet and physiognomist Johann Kaspar Lavater was practicing the pseudo-science of determining a person’s character, or personality, from his appearance and face. As shown in the image below, Lavater believed that through observation he could determine if a person was Sanguine (pleasure-seeking and sociable), Choleric (ambitious and leader-like), Melancholic (analytical and thoughtful), or Phlegmatic (relaxed and quiet). Are you Phlegmatic?

Fast-forward about 235 years and Lavater’s research has been significantly improved. Now, a real science authenticates temperament and aptitude measurements using commercial applications known as personality tests. According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, “A personality test is a questionnaire or other standardized instrument designed to reveal aspects of an individual's character or psychological makeup. The first personality tests were developed in 1920s and were intended to ease the process of personnel selection, particularly in the armed forces. Since [then] a wide variety of personality tests have been developed, notably the Myers Briggs Type Indicator... Today, personality tests have become a $400 million-a-year industry and are used in a range of contexts, including individual and relationship counseling, career planning, and employee selection and development.”

Note this last phrase, “used in… employee selection”. Over the past few months Carlisle & Company has written extensively about how to make your dealer service advisor a MyGuy. We know that one key step to creating a MyGuy is hiring the right person. In fact, in 2012 we had five very high-performing service advisors, in terms of measurable sales, satisfaction and customer retention, at four different brands – Acura, Hyundai, VW and Volvo – take a personality test.

Surprise! They all scored very similarly. In fact, let me quote our testing consultant, “I did want to let you know that the results are pretty astounding – four out of five people have a ‘customer service’ pattern. Also, every single person has a higher B factor – meaning they value relationships and social connections. For the most part, all five of these people have VERY similar patterns and couldn’t really tell your story any better. We see these types of patterns thrive in customer service environments. They want to be helpful and are quick and accurate in the detail.”

What exactly are the customer service behaviors that were observed? They are selling and relationship strengths:
  • Comfortable and confident with proven techniques the employee knows well; reluctant to change unless given good reasons, proper training, and specific guidelines
  • Composed and thorough when representing products where the employee is a consummate expert
  • Convivial and persuasive and utilizes an effective and stimulating style to build a solid, trusted relationship with customers
  • Reluctant to push or pressure a prospect and willing to thoroughly answer questions and provide detailed information before rushing to close
  • Warm and sincere with customers and eager to understand their needs and help them by providing tailored, proven solutions that are within the accepted allowance and without over-committing
  • Generally liked and trusted by clients in repeated contact; adept at maintaining and growing productive business relationships

Bottom line: Personality testing works to drive the desired dealer and OEM results for dealer service advisors. Specifically, hiring the right talent for the job results in higher customer satisfaction, which in-turn means higher service retention and higher vehicle repurchase intent. This means more money to bottom line. Are your dealers using this tool to hire the right service advisors? If not, what can you do to make this happen… quickly?

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