Every business wants its customers to have a positive experience. It leads to good reviews, improved public relations, repeat business, and a better feeling all around for your team. 

Building rapport might sound simple but everybody is different, so what works for one customer might not work for everybody else. That said, there are a few general rules you can follow to help build rapport with just about anybody. 

In this guide, we’ll be sharing some actionable tips that you and your team can use to build rapport with customers, like these:

  • Use their first name
  • Learn techniques for empathy
  • Improve your listening skills
  • Remember specific details
  • Share something about yourself
  • Ask for their opinions and suggestions
  • Use compliments
  • Use positive scripting

Building rapport takes time. But if you get it right, it can become one of the best forms of marketing for your business

Use their first name

A quick way to build rapport is by moving to a first name basis. Using titles like Mr and Mrs will always sound incredibly formal and make it difficult to form any kind of personal connection. 

Some people will prefer you use their title, so always ask permission to use their first name before you do, like this:

  • “Hello, Mr Smith. How are you? Is it alright if I call you John?”

If they say no, just say okay and move on. 

Learn techniques for empathy

Empathy means our ability to feel and understand another person’s experiences. It’s about being able to put yourself in another person’s shoes and see things from their point of view. 

Being empathic is an incredibly powerful skill that’s useful for strengthening any kind of relationship. It’ll help you build a strong foundation of trust and respect between you and your customers. 

Some people think it’s a trait that some people are just born with, but that’s not true. While some people are more adept than others, there are some techniques that anybody can use to establish empathy. 

If you’d like to find out more about those techniques, check out our article, “Techniques for establishing empathy with a client”.

Improve listening skills

Listening is an essential part of any relationship, so it’s a great way to build genuine rapport with customers. And “active listening” is the best way to let the customers know they’re being heard.

Active listening is about responding to both verbal and non-verbal cues in order to help the speaker feel understood and appreciated, making it a powerful tool for customer relations. 

While this technically could fall under a technique for empathy, it’s so important we thought it deserved its own section. And, as with empathy, we do have our own article dedicated to the importance of listening skills

Remember specific details

People like to feel appreciated, but there aren’t many opportunities to show customers that you care when your interactions are limited to short calls. 

One of the easiest ways to show appreciation is by remembering specific details about your customers. It doesn’t have to be anything too personal, just something they might have mentioned in previous conversations.

For example:

  • Have they mentioned any hobbies or interests, like cycling? Ask them if they’ve done any interesting routes recently.
  • Did they just have a birthday, or do they have on coming up? Wish them a belated happy birthday, or a happy birthday when it comes. 

Just make sure the details are things they’ve openly shared in conversation, rather than things you might have gleaned from their customer information. For example, you might know their home address from their files but don’t mention it unless they bring it up. It can come across as creepy and intrusive. 

To make this kind of thing easier, make notes about your customer conversations whenever they call and record them in their files to refer to later. It’ll add a personal touch that will be sure to put a smile on their face. 

On the point of birthdays, set up automated emails to send out to customers on their birthdays with promotional deals. It’s not so much building rapport on a personal, one-to-one basis, but it’s definitely building rapport between your brand and your customers base as a whole. 

Share something about yourself

Obviously nothing too personal, but sharing a little bit about yourself will go a long way. 

Maybe they mention something they like or dislike. If you agree, tell them. If they tell you a story and something similar has happened to you, tell them. 

Simple acts of engagement like this will help you feel more friendly and approachable, and it shows that you’re actually listening to what they’re saying. 

Ask for their opinions and suggestions

Often when employees talk to customers, it can be difficult to get past the professional boundary. It’s often a case of an employee talking to a customer or, in the case of complaints, an employee against a customer. 

Asking for their opinions and suggestions will help break through that boundary so you’re both on the same side. 

Whenever you’re making suggestions about products or services, always follow it up with simple questions like:

  • “Does that sound like something that might be useful?”
  • “How would you feel about something like that?”
  • “Is there anything else that you think would be more helpful?”

The second part of this is to actually listen to their answers and be honest with your responses. 

Use compliments

Flattery can get you just about anywhere in life, and customer service is no different. 

Nothing about their appearance or anything that could be interpreted as creepy, just stick to simple compliments, mainly about their ideas. 

  • “That’s a great idea!”
  • “Thanks for being so patient, you’ve been great.”
  • “It was lovely talking to you today.”

Use positive phrasing

The way we phrase things has a huge effect on how they are interpreted. It can be relatively easy to change any statement into something that sounds more positive. 

For example, instead of saying “that’s not something I can help with”, try saying “let me find you someone who can help you.”

Instead of saying “I don’t know”, say “give me a second and I’ll find out”.

It’ll take some practice, but getting into the habit of positive phrasing will put customers in a much better frame of mind and help build rapport. 

Improve your bookkeeping with one simple app

Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.