Building engaging relationships with customers is critical to business success, regardless of the size of your business.
Prioritising a positive relationship with current and potential customers will not only help increase your chances of winning their business but will also maximise the possibility of your contact becoming a brand advocate for your company.
A term that often appears around the discussion of customer relationships is ‘rapport’, but what exactly does this really mean in a sales environment?
What is rapport and why do I need it?
Rapport is the ability to communicate and understand a customer. It ensures a positive relationship that enhances the customer experience, as they feel valued and understood.
Allowing your customers to trust that you are providing the best solution for them, and building a mutually beneficial relationship, is at the foundation of true ‘rapport’.
How can I build rapport with my customers?
Let’s take a look at 9 easy ways you can build rapport with your customers and establish common ground:
1. Show genuine interest
Building rapport with customers starts comprehensively from the ground up. Centre your approach around their goals and challenges and show genuine interest in them by asking mindful questions and getting to know them as an individual.
2. Be honest
Show the customer you are authentic and trustworthy by being honest from the get-go. For example having an honest conversation about whether your solution seems like a right fit for the customer will not only save you time, but will help your (likely appreciative) customer save theirs.
3. Stick to your word
Trust is key to building rapport with your customers. Following through and keeping promises is essential to developing trust, so it is important to stay accountable and make commitments that you can follow through with.
4. Be accommodating
When communicating with potential customers, it is important to make them feel comfortable and match their style of conversation and energy levels in order to develop a personal connection. For example, they might prefer a phone call that goes directly to the matter at hand, or they may prefer to chat for a while. Accommodation is key.
Sharing details about yourself with your customer can be extremely useful to break the ice and encourage the customer to open up too. You can share something simple, without oversharing, and help the customer feel comfortable.
Being an honest, personable, and friendly character will help set you and your business apart, and likely keep you in the memory of your audience for when you next touch base.
6. Show empathy
Showing empathy is crucial to cultivating customer rapport. You should establish your customers needs and wants, and be genuinely invested in understanding them in order to meet and exceed those needs. It is important to make the effort to see things from the customer’s perspective and show the customer they are your priority by understanding their emotional drivers.
Active listening involves understanding the customer’s point of view and acknowledging how they feel. Particularly with customers who may have had a negative or dissatisfying experience, it is important to listen to them. Then, you can explain how to resolve the issue without being defensive.
8. Make recommendations
Making recommendations is a proactive way to offer further useful information and provide an opportunity to follow up with the customer – all while building rapport with them. It is also a great way to upsell other services or products. Just make sure you understand your customer’s needs first – otherwise building rapport will be an uphill battle!
9. Learn to apologise
Apologising is key to diffusing difficult situations, and shows you have empathy. Learning to say sorry will help to sincerely cultivate trust with your customers, and help them feel understood and valued. Don’t underestimate the value of an apology!
If you’re ready to build better relationships and conversations with your customers, then start by assessing your current activity and actioning one of the points on this list.
Cultivating a positive relationship is not always easy, but we hope you are now equipped to succeed!