What is Customer Rapport?

Customer rapport is a close and harmonious bond of trust with a customer. Building rapport is, therefore, all the work you do to establish a harmonious relationship – or strong bond – with a client.

When you build rapport with prospects and customers alike, it becomes easy to understand their problems. It allows you to serve potential customers with solutions that truly meet them at their point of need.

In order to build rapport with clients, it’s important to be genuine and honest in your interest. You have to truly care about the customer and their needs.

Even before you start engaging with potential customers, it’s important to build positive relationships with the people you work with. It’s simply not possible to build strong working relationships without trust.

Like that natural ability to make small talk, some people find it easier to build rapport and connect with customers. The good news, though, is that building rapport is an ability you can build, improve, and master.

Rapport vs trust

Rapport and trust aren’t a lot different. The difference is that while trust is more about cultivating a reputation for consistency, reliability, and the ability to keep promises, rapport is more concerned with establishing a close connection or bond. 

So when you look at it, building rapport is an important step in gaining the trust of customers. So both are important qualities that the best salespeople share.

Why is it Important to Build Rapport With Customers?

As we have said, building rapport is what allows us to build trust with customers. Without rapport, it is difficult to gain the trust of customers. They can’t open up about their problems, which should be your goal if you are going to match them with the right solution.

Another angle to this is that, as people in general, we tend to gravitate toward people who are similar to us. When we first meet someone, we try to find areas we can connect. Like a common ground around which we can relate!

This is why small talk exists. It allows us to break the ice and find common ground with others in the hope of creating a shared bond. This bond is crucial as we are more likely to want to be around those who are similar to us.

If you want to build rapport with someone, it’s helpful if you have things in common. It’s easier to find shared ground and things to talk about when you’re similar. You have common ground, and things you both know about.

This makes it easier to build a relationship with your prospects and to communicate in general. And while it may seem obvious, we all find ourselves wondering from time to time:

“He/she is lovely, I’m sure, but we really have nothing in common.”

Rapport is important because it helps to create a shared frame of reference between two people. When rapport is lacking, it can make working together more difficult and workplace communication more challenging. 

However, even in these circumstances, it is still possible to build rapport and develop a strong relationship. The following rapport-building tips should help:

How to Build Rapport With Customers: 6 Tips That Can Help You Break the Ice

It can be intimidating trying to build rapport with someone, especially if you don’t like small talk. That said, the task gets a lot easier when you remember that building rapport means focusing on your strengths and using your personality in order to build a genuine connection.

Here’s how to build rapport with customers even if you aren’t the most outgoing individual:

1 Understand yourself first

Before you start a conversation, the first thing you should do is to be honest with yourself. It’s not about trying to fake it. To build this skill, you don’t need to be the most outgoing person or the most introverted. No matter what communication skills you have, anyone can build rapport.

You can identify your strengths and weaknesses so that you can use them in future conversations. Let’s say, for example, that you don’t think small talk is your forte. 

That’s okay! 

Instead of engaging in small talk with new acquaintances, engage them in deeper conversations. Ask them about their pets or their work history. Although these are simple questions, they help you to get to know your team members better.

If you are introverted, you might feel overwhelmed by crowds or networking events. That’s fine, too. Prioritize 1:1s, coffee chats, or even brief water cooler conversations with individuals. Instead of trying to force yourself to attend every networking event, lean into your strengths.

With that said, try to talk less than you listen:

2 Practice active listening

Building rapport is only possible when you listen. Active listening, also known as listening to understand, refers to the practice of paying attention to what the other person is saying instead of worrying about what you might say next.

As a customer support rep, active listening is a great way for you to make meaningful connections and make the best out of the sales conversations. 

You are more likely to listen to what the other person has to share than if you are focusing on your own thoughts. This helps you to understand them better and makes them feel more at ease around you.

Here’s another skill you need to master when trying to build rapport in sales:

3 Keep your body language positive

How you listen is just as important as how you look. Even if you are paying attention, distractions or disinterested nonverbal communication may unintentionally distract people.

Check in with your body language and facial expressions during a conversation. Are your arms crossed? Are you making eye contact with anyone? These little things can make a huge difference.

Particularly, ensure that you:

  • Make encouraging sounds and gestures,
  • Smile,
  • Make eye contact

Here’s another handy tip for building rapport with customers:

4 Look for commonalities

It is easy to establish rapport by looking for commonalities between you and another person. 

  • Are there common interests? 
  • Is there a similar past? 

It’s often easier to make a connection with someone if you have something in common. This common ground can be used as a starting point for deeper conversations.

This can be done by paying attention to your customers. You might see them wearing a sweatshirt that was earned at college or displaying a photo of their children on their desks. Start a conversation around that.

Perhaps you have heard that they have a similar work history or that you both love cats. Find something you can share with them to build a deeper connection.

To build good rapport with customers, you also have to care:

5 Develop your empathy

Even if you don’t have much in common with the other person, use empathy and curiosity to build trust. This involves focusing on the needs of the other person and how you can help.

Is the other person new to work? 

They may be going through a tough time right when you are trying to sell them something. You need to have that emotional intelligence to notice that they are sad even if you are strangers to each other.

What they need at that point is a friend – someone to share a problem with. Perhaps they are having a bad day at work. If they are open to a coffee and chatting, ask them. 

If you can get them to open up about a personal problem, you have successfully built a strong rapport with them. From then on your conversations will be more natural (and productive)

Building rapport is about building a relationship with someone. You can do this by tapping into your emotional intelligence – recognizing that selling can sometimes wait.

6 Ask open-ended questions

Open-ended questions can be used to find common ground. They encourage the other person to share more information about their past. 

These questions can be used for any topic. Instead of asking “How many years have you been in marketing?” which is a one-sentence answer, ask “How did you get started in marketing?”. You’re asking the same thing but asking for more details.

Another great tip about building rapport is to make sure you remember as much as you can about the customer:

7 Take notes

You might consider taking notes about what you learned about someone to help you remember to follow-up later. I don’t recommend that you keep any private information about someone. 

However, it is a good idea to record small details about their lives that you might forget once your busy schedule takes over.

If a prospect mentions that they are training for a marathon in the future, take it down so you can ask them questions when you see them again. Write down their names and how many children they have. People feel special when you can recall details about their lives and when you follow up.

Building trust with customers is only one aspect of gaining the trust of prospects. However, when we use these tips, we are laying the foundation to achieve our end goals as salespeople. 

Building relationships and trust with prospects is key to sales success. When we take the time and get to know the customer better, we position ourselves for success.

FAQS - How to Build Rapport With Customers

Here are answers to some of the common questions salespeople ask about building rapport with customers:

What is the key to building rapport?

The key to building rapport is to be genuine and authentic in your interactions with customers. It’s crucial that you show that you are interested in the customer and to show that you care about them as a person, not just as a means to a sale. When you do these things, it creates a feeling of mutual respect and trust that forms the foundation for strong customer relationships.

How do you build rapport with a client?

There are many ways to build rapport, but some common methods include being friendly and personable, active listening, and showing genuine interest in the client.

It is also important to be respectful and professional at all times. By taking the time to get to know the client and build rapport, you will be able to create a strong foundation for a successful working relationship.

What are the 4 elements of rapport?

The four elements of rapport are trust, respect, common goals, and communication. Rapport is the foundation of any strong relationship, whether it be personal or professional. It establishes trust, which is essential for making people feel comfortable enough to open up and share information.

Respect is necessary in order to maintain a healthy relationship where both parties feel valued. Common goals help to keep both parties focused on the same objectives and working together towards a shared outcome. Communication is key in any relationship as it allows for the exchange of ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Is building rapport a skill?

Building rapport is a skill that can be learned and developed over time. It involves developing relationships with others, understanding their needs and wants, and being able to communicate effectively. It is an important skill for anyone who wants to be successful in sales.

Building Trust and Rapport is Key to Successful Selling

If you’re looking to build better relationships with the people you work with customers, then building rapport is the skill you need to work on! 

By learning how to read people, actively listening when they talk, showing a genuine desire to help them overcome their problems, and understanding their communication style, you can start forming stronger bonds with prospects.

So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and start practicing your rapport-building skills today!

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
This post was generated for LeadFuze and attributed to Justin McGill, the Founder of LeadFuze.