Rapport is mutual trust in a relationship. It must be built and maintained, not something that happens as a result of one or two interactions. Here are some steps to building rapport with customers.
Break The Ice
When you first meet a client, take a minute or two to get to know him or her. Don’t start the discussion instantly with business talk. You want to put the client at ease and help him or her relate to you first. It only takes a second to comment about something general. Here are some ways to break the ice.
- Compliment something about them
- Ask them how their day is going
- Ask them about their hobbies or occupation
- What type of sports are they interested in?
- Do you have mutual friends?
- Ask about their family or if they have any pets
- Common business interests
- Avoid talking about religion or politics
- Listen actively. Focus on what the client is saying, listening for clues about what he or she needs or wants. Customers will respond to someone they know is listening to what they are saying.
- Mirror the customer. If you share some common mannerisms, like posture and tone of voice, the customer will feel more comfortable interacting with you.
- Be sincere. If you are not sincere when you talk to the customer, he or she will pick up on that, and any rapport that has already been established will disappear.
- Be yourself.
- Show you are genuinely committed to your customers.
- Treat customers with genuine respect.
Most Importantly Be Honest
Again, this is customer service 101, but it is amazing how often it is forgotten. If a customer asks a question that a sales agent does not know the answer to, it is important that they do not panic. In this situation, they should be honest with a customer and make sure that they will find out the right answer. Subsequently, the agent should escalate the inquiry to a senior member of the team. As a result, the client knows the company is eager to meet his/her needs in an authentic way.
This blog was written by Ingrid Lindberg, a customer experience speaker and founder of Chief Customer. Her work has spanned the Fortune 500 – including Finance, Healthcare, CPG, Telco and Retail, working with companies to create differentiating customer experience strategies and cultures.