Does Your Business Have Rapport?
A large majority of business interactions take place over the phone in this day and age. Businesses and their customers span countries and continents. To be successful, your staff needs to build rapport having never met the customer face to face.
How will you know when you achieve rapport with a customer?
There are a few different characteristics to look for in the relationship:
- You're both attentive to the other. You not only focus on what the other is saying and doing, but you're also honestly interested.
- There's a positive attitude to the relationship. There is empathy with one another, and your conversations are friendly and positive.
- You and your customer are on the same page. Understanding each other and respecting the needs and concerns both of you have.
While sometimes customers "click" with your staff, most relationships take time to develop.
13 Tips for Building Rapport
To build rapport with your customers, you need to start on day one. Effective customer relations begin the first time you make contact and continue developing throughout the relationship.
The first step? Make sure you keep accurate data. Quality call center software lets you take a data-driven approach to interactions with customers. Consider incorporating a customer relationship management database (CRM) to track your interactions with customers. This reporting should include phone conversations, email exchanges, and even social media encounters. This information allows you to reach out to customers with confidence.
Taking a personal interest in your customers pays off in a stable relationship you'll build with them.
Get the rapport with your customers going and growing by using a few of these tips:
- Imagine yourself in their shoes so you can empathize with their situation.
- Make sure you're listening to your caller; let him talk without interruption.
- Keep your attitude positive and nonjudgmental.
- Ask questions to clarify information the customer gives you.
- Use open-ended questions to move the conversation along.
- Take quick notes during the conversation if needed.
- Use your manners: say "please" and "thank you."
- Ask your customer how you should address him.
- Patience is the key; never talk down to a caller.
- Don't be the robotic-sounding person that obviously is reading from a script.
- Try to match the tone of your voice to that of your caller.
- Let your customers hear the smile in your voice.
- Lead the conversation and remain in control of where it goes, but be subtle in your leadership.
5 Rapport Building Mistakes You Can't Make
Having a great rapport with your customers and callers won't always guarantee smooth sailing. However, there are a few specific points to touch on. Each of these is a potential deal breaker for any call, whether outbound or incoming. These are mistakes you do not want to make!
1) Get the customer's name right.
Calling customers by an incorrect name says to them that you don't care enough about them to get it right. If the customer has an unusual name, jot it down phonetically when the customer says it. This way you'll be more likely to get it right.
2) Know whom you're dealing with.
The importance of a "personal touch" is never overstated. When you call the customer's children by name, mention their hobbies and inquire about business endeavors or interests, you have your customer's attention.
3) Match the customer's priorities.
Most customers have their priorities sorted in the order they want them addressed. Make certain you address each concern in that order if at all possible. This structure relays to the customer that you know what they want and how to take care of them.
4) Let an angry customer be angry.
These are the most difficult callers. Any previously established rapport can go right out the window when emotions are running hot. When you encounter an angry customer, give them time to vent their concerns without interruption. Use the extra time to figure out how to resolve the customer's situation.
5) Dead air is not our friend.
When you have no response, the dead air time damages the rapport you are working to build. The silence following a question or statement virtually screams, "I'm killing my rapport with this customer." Have a set of generic stock responses, such as "Wow! That's interesting" or "That's a first for me!" Alternatively, you could try something like "Never a dull moment, right?" or "I can only imagine your surprise!" Sometimes saying nothing is the worst possible thing to do, so try to respond with a phrase that moves the conversation forward.
It's Really Not That Difficult
For many, building rapport with others comes naturally. For those not so blessed, it takes a bit more effort, but it’s still completely possible! It's easier in face-to-face encounters but today's global economy doesn't always allow for that. For this reason, building rapport through the use of our phone skills is important.
When you're conducting business over the phone, the quality and tone of your voice are critical. Your customer or caller determines whether or not you're going to fall into their "friend" box based solely on how you present yourself in that phone conversation.
So, do your homework, get the name right, and smile through your voice. It's that simple.