Rapport building is all about connecting with your customer. A connection establishes trust, and trust results in sales and good ratings. Hence, rapport building is considered as one of the essential/key skills for a call center agent. For some agents, rapport building comes naturally. For others, it has to be developed. Establishing a connection with someone you have never seen or met or know nothing on a personal level can be difficult.
However, the following tips will start you in the right direction, and with time, you will be able to hone your rapport building skills.
1. Rapport Building is a Continuous Process
Rapport building has to start from the first call you take. You may not be able to establish a good connection with the customer the first time, however, you just have to keep trying. Practice is what will eventually make this skill perfect for you. It is also important that you start building rapport with a customer who is calling in for the first time, and continue it as long as that person is a customer to your company. Business relationships are also dynamic just like personal relationships. They have to be built and nurtured over time.
2. Effective Rapport Building Needs Accurate Data About the Customer
Wading into unknown territories is a big no in rapport building. For example, you ask the customer how old are their children, and the customer retorts back with ‘I do not have any children’. This will especially stress the call if the customer is someone who has been trying to have a kid for some time. Rapport building on a personal level is good as long as you have enough personal information about a customer. If you don’t, simply do not go there. There are many other general topics that you can pick to establish rapport. In order to take an informative approach to customer interaction, use a contact center application that compiles comprehensive customer information. It is important that the data about the customer be updated on a regular basis. You can also listen to previous call recordings to get more information about the customer.
3. Customer Interest on a Personal Level
Apart from knowing essential information about your customers, try to truly understand your customer as well. This can be achieved if you take a genuine interest to know your customer as a person. When there is idle time during the call, like when you are running a test, you can ask the customer very light, and personal questions. If the customer is reluctant in providing personal information, stop, and change the topics to general ones. If not, then push on and try to get as much information about the customer as possible. This will be very helpful in all the future calls with that customer.
4. Adjust your Customer Interaction Approach
Adjusting your interaction with the customer to suit or match their way of interaction is an effective rapport building technique. For example, if your customer is tech-savvy, and talks using technical terms, then you also talk with him/her in the same language. If your customer is someone who would like to know everything about your product, then provide as much information to them as possible. If your customer is in a rush, then do not try to make any small talk, and try to provide a solution as soon as possible. Your customer will definitely appreciate it if you base the interaction according to their convenience, and knowledge level.
5. Try to Connect with your Customer on an Emotional Basis
You will be able to reap the reward if you successfully connect with your customer on an emotional basis. For example, if a customer calls in for a new system because their previous system got destroyed in a fire, let him/her know how sorry you are about the situation, in a very genuine way. Then do everything to provide the customer with the new product as soon as possible. Make sure that every apology and empathy that you provide is heartfelt and genuine. Customer service is all about serving your customer. The day you truly understand this, you will have no problem providing a heartfelt and genuine empathy and apology. In order to win your customer’s heart, you have to aim to provide the best possible solutions.
6. Active Listening Skill is Required for Building Rapport
Nothing derails rapport building than not being on the same page with the customer, simply because you were not listening. Active listening is crucial in creating a mutual understanding between you and the customer. Never interrupt the customer while he/she is talking. Listen actively to what the customer is saying. Note down important points. Ask questions for clarity on the issue. Paraphrase the customer’s issue before going ahead with the rest of the call.
It is important that you listen to the mood of the customer at the beginning of the call. Effective rapport building is all about picking up on that mood, and working with it.