Establishing customer rapportDon’t you love it when you show up at a place you frequent and the manager remembers you? They may not always remember your name, but maybe they mention something you talked about last time you were there, and they let you know they’re happy to see you again.

People who provide excellent customer service develop rapport with their customers—whether it’s by calling them by name or remembering random details about them. Why is rapport important in providing excellent customer service? Motivational speaker Tony Robbins once said, “Rapport is the ability to enter someone else’s world, to make him feel that you understand him, that you have a strong common bond.” By creating and nurturing that bond, even if it’s a brief interaction, you help your client feel valued.

How do you develop rapport? There are several excellent articles out there by leaders in the customer service industry, and most have the following tips in common:

  • Remember people’s names. “Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”– Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
  • You must be genuinely interested and involved in the conversation. Whether you are taking a client’s order, listening to what they need or hearing a complaint. You want to have full eye contact (and not the kind where you are looking at a person but thinking about anything other than what they are saying to you!).
  • Make them feel special. Nothing helps you establish rapport with your customers better and faster than special treatment. This isn’t just about remembering their names anymore. It’s about giving them something other customers don’t get.
  • Look for things in common. When asking about another person’s background, look for areas you have in common, such as birthplace, hometown, hobbies, or school attended. These topics make for natural areas of discussion.
  • Use mirroring. Mirroring is when you adjust your own body language and spoken language so that you “reflect” that of the person you’re talking to.

Next time you have an interaction with one of your customers, be conscious of how you develop rapport with them. If you have a colleague who is exceptional at this skill, ask him or her for tips. Developing a great rapport with your clients can lead to a long, healthy relationship.