Customer Experience News & Trends

4 ways to build rapport with new customers

Anyone who touches the customer experience can drive loyalty with one powerful skill: rapport-building. 

When you can build and maintain rapport with customers, you ensure they’ll come back, buy more and possibly send other customers to you because of basic human behavior. Customers:

  • want to talk to people they like
  • share information and emotion with people they like
  • buy from people they like
  • feel loyal to people they like, and
  • will want to introduce people they like.

While it’s important to build rapport with new customers just to establish a relationship, it’s equally important to maintain or improve rapport as time goes on.

Anyone involved with customers throughout their experiences with your organization can excel at rapport-building by following the RAIN Group’s 4 Principles of Rapport.

1. Show more empathy

You want to cultivate an ability to understand and share customers’ feelings – anything from frustrations and anger to excitement and happiness. Those shared emotions might be about work, personal lives or business.

Two keys: Get customers to talk about themselves and show them you’re listening. Try these:

  • Is it true what they say about living in (customer’s city/state)? Example:”Is it true what they say about Phoenix? Is it really a dry heat?”
  • Since you live in (city/state), do you go to (known attraction) much?
  • I have such good memories of (customer’s city/state). When I was a kid, we visited (known attraction) and loved it. What do you think about it now?
  • I understand you used to work in (different industry/company). How was the transition?
  • Do you go to (known industry event)? Why/why not?
  • I saw you tweeted about going to (industry event). Have you been to it? What are your thoughts?
  • I see you follow (influencer) on LinkedIn. Did you read her book?
  • Since you’re interested in (topic); I was wondering if you’d read (specific book on the topic)?
  • I’m putting together a list of great blogs for my customers. Do you have any recommendations?
  • Your company’s retreat photo came up on Instagram. What was the highlight of it?
  • I can tell you stay busy. Do you use apps to stay organized? What do you recommend?

Now, the important part: Listen closely and respond, using their same language, with continued interest.

2. Be authentic

Customers can sense forced interest and kindness. Being too sweet or overly excited about what you hear will actually distance you from customers.

Instead, act like you would with friends who are sharing information. Nod. Smile. Participate, rather than look for your next option to speak.

3. Level the field

The more common ground you can establish, the more likely you’ll connect.

Find common interests and backgrounds and use them to deepen connections each time you’re in contact with customers. Perhaps you share a favorite TV show, a passion for a sport or an interest in a hobby. Or maybe you have kids of similar ages or a beloved author. Note these commonalities and ask what customers are thinking about them when you interact.

Another key with new customers: Mirror their basic behaviors – rate of speech, use of words, seriousness or humor of tone.

4. Create a shared experience

Ever notice how people who’ve shared in a frustrating experience – like delayed flights or shoveling their sidewalks through a blizzard – move from “I hate this!” to “We’re in it together!”

While you don’t want to create a frustrating experience, you do want to build that “We’re in this together” partnership through experience.

When you work with customers on issues, create a shared experience collaborating. You can:

  • define the problem by using customers’ words
  • ask them if they’d like to brainstorm ideas for a solution that satisfies them
  • let them choose the final solution and their level of involvement in executing it.

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Take a couple minutes today and simply look out onto the production floor of your contact center. Chances are pretty great that you are seeing a diverse group of people that span across several generations.  Read more!

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