In customer service, there is no greater achievement than to build a rapport with your customers. What that means is something beyond answering their questions or fulfilling their needs—great customer service involves a rapport that feels so light, energetic, and enjoyable that your customers will want to return to your business over and over again.
Rapport-building is no small task. It means both listening and being willing to engage in more meaningful conversations that engage people on an emotional level. Think about your own experiences dealing with customer service representatives—you know when someone is being “real” with you.
The Importance of Rapport Building in Customer Service
Why make building a rapport with customers important? Although it seems intuitive, some brands have never made improving customer service a priority. You can list companies that are difficult to deal with the same way some of us can say the same about ex-spouses. This doesn’t just create unnecessary difficulty for their customers—companies are also leaving money on the table, as there are huge benefits to utilizing different ways of building a rapport with customers.
To Make Sales Easier
Everyone in sales knows that building trust comes before asking someone to believe in you. So, by developing a rapport whereby the customer identifies with the person that they are speaking with, they will be supportive and open minded.
When you perform exceptional service for a customer, they may be inclined to tell others about the great work that you are doing. Today’s social media environment allows for positive brand experiences to resonate to greater and greater numbers of people, virtually instantly.
Gaining Customer Trust
Every single person in business has witnessed a situation where someone was getting a less-than-stellar deal or an inferior product. Before you can even intercede and tell them about a solution, product, or service that is better, the person has to be willing to listen. That’s why a rapport comes before any pitch.
When a customer is calling in order to cancel their business, an agent who is skilled in building a rapport has an excellent chance of retaining the customer. A joke, analogy, or warm tone are all simple ways to reduce tension and change the energy of the conversation towards the topic of solving customer issues.
Reduce Customer Churn
The rate at which a business loses customers is an important metric to examine. Remember that it’s far more cost effective to keep a customer you already have rather than spending marketing dollars or offering sales in order to bring in a new customer. Call center agents who are adept at building—and maintaining—a rapport with customers allows your business to experience lower levels of customer attrition.
Identify and Provide the Best Services
One of the most important things a business can do is learn about customer preferences and needs. There are a variety of methods to do this, from surveys to hiring a market research firm. However, truthful, unbiased, and unfiltered feedback is what will lead to the most important changes. You can only get this from your customers when you’ve build a rapport with them so that they know that you both trust and value their opinions.
Ways to Build Rapport with Customers over the Phone
The truth about rapport-building is that it’s a lot like jazz: there are systematic structures, but it’s also based on creating spontaneity within the moment. This is why a call center should be selective when hiring, so that agents have the necessary attitude in order to learn and evolve with your customer’s needs. There are specific tips that leading call center agents will use to build a rapport with your customers.
Understanding Your Customer
The very first step towards establishing a rapport comes with knowing exactly what type of person you are dealing with. Are you talking to someone who is laid-back, high-strung, anxious, or happy? What is the nature of their business? A skilled call center agent asks targeted questions without coming across as intrusive.
Be Adaptable in your Approach
When talking to a customer, an agent can take any number of approaches from being straight-up, reacting with active listening techniques, or simply going back and forth with banter. A customer will appreciate the agent who is able to modify or interpret a script or policies to suit their needs.
Take a Personal Interest
A skilled agent knows how to use their tone and overall demeanour to demonstrate an active interest in the customer as a person. Be aware of how a monotone approach with one-word answers can be alienating, and conversely, by sounding enthusiastic and happy to help, an agent is showing that they really do care.
Create Trust and Mutual Understanding
By listening and actively validating the customer’s needs, a skilled agent knows how to sound professional in order to earn the customer’s trust. By mirroring the customer’s language, style, and volume, the customer will feel at ease. Trust also has to be earned by delivering on promises that are made—even small ones, like promising a customer that when you place them on hold, it will only be for a brief amount of time. If it takes longer, apologize, and always show that you care.
Establish an Emotional Connection
The key to a true connection is by having genuine empathy for your customer’s position. This works whether you are selling 10-cent pencils or $100,000 luxury cars. Have an open mind, and appeal to the customer’s heart as much as you appeal to their brain.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Encourage the caller to open up by allowing them to speak openly and plainly. A skilled agent knows that the more a caller opens up, the more information that they can gather and use in order to find an amicable resolution. In other cases, the customer will provide the momentum for an upsell or cross-sell.
Understand Customer Issues
Reality isn’t always as straightforward as it needs to be. A customer’s issue could be with your product, the method of delivery, or more often than not, they could also be upset about something completely unrelated to the transaction. Only by building a genuine rapport with the customer can you discover what the customer’s real objectives are.
Convey a Sense of Urgency
The call center agent must carefully construct a logical case for immediate action. Is there a one-time special offer that they must act now to get? Ultimately, scarcity is what creates higher value—and demand—for a product or service. Remind your customer that if they walk away, they are losing an opportunity.
Deliver a Quick Solution
Without compromising anywhere else in the call flow process, an agent needs to imply right from the outset that the customer will have their issue solved post-haste. This benefits both the call center in terms of low wait times, and the customer, who doesn’t find that they are redirected endlessly between clueless or powerless agents.
The single most critical aspect of an entire customer service call flow is open, honest communication. Letting people know what to expect will keep everyone’s emotions in check, avoid disappointment, and build confidence towards a sought-after resolution. Think of Scotty from Star Trek—he under-promises and thrills because he always over-delivers.
How Our Call Center Can Help You in Building Rapport with Your Customers
Are you a small- or mid-size business that is looking for new ways to generate leads, increase profitability, gain customers, increase your market share, and ultimately, build a self-sustaining cycle of growth forward? Then perhaps this is the time to outsource your customer service to an onshore call center where agents will be relatable, speak to customers in their own language, and generate opportunities for your brand.
3C Contact Services is a Toronto-based call center that has highly-trained agents who know how to build a rapport with customers of all types. Our agents are able to provide a number of services including handling retention, inbound, and outbound calls. We also make sure that our agents are adept at cross-selling, upselling, providing technical assistance, problem solving, and handling customer satisfaction.
Our Canadian location allows us to handpick the very best call center agents for our team. This is why 3C Contact Services is able to provide exceptional customer service among onshore call centers. We are in-touch with customer needs and proactively encourage our agents to understand how customers think in order to excel at customer service. Members of our team will be thoroughly trained and know your business almost as well as you do. Contact us today to learn more about us and the services we offer.