Building rapport with your customers

We know that understanding customers is the key to giving them good service. So, how do we go about understanding them?

All customer-facing functions need to get to know customers on a one-to-one basis as each person deals with them face-to-face; in that way individuals can anticipate each customer's requirements and exceed expectations.

Building rapport with customers

Any representative of your business will need to maintain a professional attitude to their job - especially if it is customer-facing. It's up to each and everyone to make customers feel welcome.

The skills involved in building ordinary relationships and establishing contact and rapport with customers are basically the same. Customer-facing people need to be comfortable using these skills in order to do their job well.

The art of customer service is making people feel special

Making people feel special is one of the essential elements in forming good customer relationships.

You can show that you think a customer is worth your time and attention in many ways. It is this ability to show that you feel this - and not just say it - that makes good customer relationships.

This is true of any relationship, whether it is an intimate partnership or a professional contact with a customer. Like so many other personal skills, this can be learned and developed.

In a customer service situation, you have just ten seconds to start building a relationship with your customer

Remember: it is not enough to feel positive about your customer; you must show it in your words and actions.

People cannot read your mind - they can only see your actions and hear your words

Here are ten things customers need:

  1. They need to feel welcome (respect, understanding)
  2. They need to feel comfortable (understanding)
  3. They need to be understood (understanding)
  4. They need assistance (understanding)
  5. They need to feel important (respect)
  6. They need to be recognised (respect)
  7. They need to be treated with respect (respect)
  8. They need to be listened to (understanding)
  9. They need prompt service (respect)
  10. They need to trust you (trust)

Think about these when you are next dealing with a customer.

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For more advice on this topic, see the Resources box on the right.