Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Practicing building rapport while you shop, part of Customer Service Foundations (2014).
One fun aspect of customer service is you can work on a lot of your skills while you are the customer. This is really good news for anyone who likes to shop. But even if you don't, we're all customers from time to time. The next time you have to run a few errands, just think of it as a customer service skill building workout. The best part about practicing your customer service skills when you are a customer, is you often get even better service. I'd like to give you three ways that you can practice rapport building skills while you are the customer. The first exercise is called making the first move.
Whenever you encounter a customer service employee, try to greet them in a warm and friendly manner. We've probably all experienced a situation where a cashier or a retail associate doesn't greet us right away, but now you can practice your rapport skills by making the first move and greeting them. In many cases, your enthusiasm is enough to jolt them into providing you with better service. And if it doesn't, it's still good practice since not all customers will respond positively to your greetings. The second exercise is called introduce yourself.
If you go to a restaurant, call a 1-800 number or talk to a sales person, they will often tell you their name. For some reason, customers often don't give their name in return. You can practice breaking the ice in getting to know people by name by introducing yourself to the people who serve you. It can help you get more comfortable learning and using different names. I've discovered an unexpected benefit to using this exercise when I walk my dog. Most dog owners quickly get to know the other dogs in the neighborhood but for some reason, the owners rarely introduce themselves.
I started introducing myself to the other dog owners when I'd meet their dog. And as a result, I've gotten to know a lot more of my neighbors than I otherwise would have. The third exercise is called, ask the expert. Most people get more comfortable when they talk about subjects they know really well. When serving customers, you might ask them questions about themselves to help break the ice. When you are a customer, you can ask the employee serving you for their expert advice. For example, when I was in the market for a new suitcase, I asked a flight attendant what she recommended. She was able to give me some great suggestions, and engaging her on a topic she knew really well lead to even more friendly service on my flight.
At its core building a rapport with other people is about creating a personal connection. Both the employee and the customer have a role to play in developing that positive relationship. Practicing your skills while you are a customer can help you build rapport more naturally when the roles are reversed and you are the one delivering service.
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- What is outstanding customer service?
- Identifying your customer
- Creating a customer service vision
- Enhancing likability in person, over the phone, and via email
- Actively listening to customers
- Going the extra mile
- Taking ownership of problems
- Diffusing angry customers
- Using data to evaluate and improve your customer service<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.