Building rapport with clients is crucial for every business owner who wants to grow their business and retain clients. Rapport builds trust in a relationship and makes both people feel like they’re on the same page. In today’s changing world, rapport must be built both online and in person.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines rapport as “a relationship characterized by agreement, mutual understanding, or empathy that makes communication possible or easy.” By that definition, building rapport is the key to generating the strong client relationships responsible for a business’ success.
Rapport is mostly generated through your actions, not your words. Here are 3 actions that will build rapport with your clients:
- Put your customer service efforts in public view
You can build rapport with clients and potential clients by resolving customer service issues in the public view. When a user on social media posts a public complaint or inquiry, instead of deleting or ignoring comments or privately responding, respond to the user publicly to demonstrate your interest in the customer’s satisfaction.
Marketing Land partnered with Edison Research to find out what kind of responsiveness customers expect from businesses. The study found that customers only get a response on social media 50% of the time, which isn’t enough. When a customer doesn’t get a reply on social media they become disappointed and bitter. Other people notice when a business doesn’t respond and it makes that business look bad. The study found failing to respond to customer complaints on social media caused a 43% decrease in customer advocacy, yet replying produced a 20% increase.
People will be watching your responses to complaints and criticism and will make purchase decisions accordingly. It seems instinctual to hide public complaints, but consider them opportunities to demonstrate outstanding customer service and show people how you handle issues. When people have reservations about doing business with a company, excellent customer service can sway them to buy.
- Create an industry-appropriate welcoming environment
Creating a welcoming environment for your clients when they enter your place of business is the first step to build rapport silently. Your clients and customers will form a lasting impression about your space within seconds of walking in the door, so you need to make it count.
Pay attention to the smaller details. For example, if it’s snowing outside, make your space cozy and comfortable for your clients. Don’t do what major department stores do and crank up the heat all the way just because it’s cold outside. Crank it up just enough to maintain a warmer temperature inside that won’t make people sweat. If your space is small, hit two rapport points at once by putting a gas fireplace in the corner with logs that simulate a real fire. Your clients will be warm and they’ll have something inviting to look at.
What would feel good to your customers?
What feels welcoming in one industry may not transfer to other industries. For example, wellness centers offering various treatments usually create a relaxing environment using candles, incense, fluffy couches, and pastel colored décor. If someone comes in for an infrared sauna treatment, they should feel relaxed and pampered the moment they walk in the door.
On the other hand, an automotive shop will create strong rapport with customers by offering a clean, uncluttered office for customers to wait for their cars to be serviced. People getting an oil change don’t want candles and incense. They want a comfortable chair, Wi-Fi, and some coffee.
- Adapt your products and services to meet customer demand
Unless your product is extremely specific, start adapting your goods and services to meet the needs of customers based on their feedback. For example, if your social media followers have a persistent complaint, engineer a solution as soon as possible. The only exception should be if the complaint is a misunderstanding of how to use the product. In that case, create explainer videos to teach people proper use.
No product is perfect right out the gate. By continually reengineering products according to customer feedback, your customers will feel like they matter. You’ll establish a deep sense of trust because they’ll know you have their best interests in mind.
Rapport is always built from authenticity
You can’t build rapport disingenuously – it must come authentically. Be there for your clients and customers, listen to their feedback, and put their best interests first. Rapport is built on a foundation of small actions that tell a bigger story about who you are as a business.