Module 1, Lesson 1
Building a Rapport
Active listening is only the first step towards building a rapport with your customer. A rapport is a state of harmony between you and another person or group. Here are some strategies towards building a rapport:
- Address the other person by name early, and reinforce that where appropriate. While addressing a person by name can come across awkwardly if overdone, too much in this case is better than not enough.
- Have a smile in your voice. When you smile as you speak, you insert a note of positivity into the interaction. However, a fake smile can communicate sarcasm instead, which brings us to our next point.
- Use “we” language to indicate the collaborative nature of the interaction. Remember that as a customer service representative, you are acting as a partner with your customer to find a solution to a problem.
- Employ (selectively) non-threatening ice breakers and small talk topics. Politics and religion are subjects to avoid. Remember that making small talk isn’t always the best approach, especially if your customer sounds excessively angry or impatient.
- Be honest and genuine. If you truly do not know the answer to a question, be up front about that, but also demonstrate a willingness to find that answer. Using specifics helps.
- Speaking with an even pace and in a lower tone of voice helps to build a rapport.
- Be attentive to silence. Prolonged silence can be uncomfortable for some people, but a short silence allows you the opportunity to digest what the customer is telling you, and it indicates to customers that you are thinking about what they have said.
- Show agreement with the customer when you do genuinely agree, but after acknowledging agreement, express specifically why you agree.
- If you must disagree with a customer, give your reasons first before expressing disagreement.
- Be polite in your interactions. You can offer compliments, when genuine, but don’t overdo it. Avoid offering criticism. Instead, offer alternatives in the form of a question: What if we tried this …