Learn strategies and techniques for why and how to build rapport.
- In this day and age we have so much technology at our disposal to help us assist customers. But at the end of the day, it's not really about the tools we use, it's about how we treat our customers. Customers really want to be treated with respect, and have an interaction with a technician who cares. Building rapport with our customers is one of the most important aspects of technical support and customer service. This isn't always an easy task. We have customers with technical issues, who might be frustrated, irritated, or have a variety of emotions.
Customers may also have an urgent need and want assistance as soon as possible. So, when we are working with our customers we not only have to quickly resolve their technical issue, but we also have to be friendly. So how and when does that leave us time to build rapport? Building rapport is a skill that needs to be honed and practiced throughout our career and used in our daily interactions with customers. The good news is that there are proven strategies and techniques that we can implement across various support channels.
How we build rapport depends on the type of customer, their expectations and which support channel we're using. So, we may ask why is building rapport so important? What's the value of it? Well the answer is easy. Our goal is to provide quality customer service. And rapport allows us to create a positive experience, which in turn allows the customer to feel comfortable sharing and providing us that crucial information. A benefit of building rapport in the long run, is that it enables us to handle contacts more efficiently.
It also builds brand loyalty, encouraging customers to contact us again, buy our product and even refer us to others. Building rapport is the first step in providing quality customer service. At the foundation of building rapport, just like building any relationship or team, is trust. If our customers don't trust us, it can make our job very difficult. Trust is built by setting expectations that are clear and straight forward. Following up on commitments and listening to customer's needs are two additional components of building trust.
Think about a time when a company that you were a customer of didn't follow through or gave the wrong information, or was even rude. An example that I can share is a company that I frequent, only because they are close to my house, never says thank you when I come in. I always say thank you to their employees first. They also never get my order right. This company's not taking the time to build rapport or trust with me. Along with trust, the foundation for building this relationship is listening.
Sounds easy, right? May technicians tell me, of course I listen to my customers. Well, are we really, truly listening to our customers? Are we listening and understanding the real meaning of what our customers want and need. Often times, we aren't actually doing so because we're too focused on fixing the technical issue or listening for the things that we want to hear. Now there are many defined types of listening that we can use in technical support.
There's active and focused, informational and critical listening. But, now matter what type of listening we're using, the bottom line is we want to listen in order to understand what a customer needs and wants. That's it. Listening requires us to be patient, not interrupt and to clarify and verify what we've heard. Now that we've discussed why building rapport is so important and the many benefits let's work next on building our skills.
First, Fancy provides guidance on how to use the right types of questions to gather information about an issue. Then, she explains how to professionally handle common customer service tasks, like escalating and transferring calls. Then, she shows how to hone interactions with customers by refining communications—acknowledging how tone and word choice can diffuse tension. She wraps up by covering common customer behavior scenarios in which the tools, techniques, and strategies from the course can be applied.
- Greeting and validating contacts
- Asking investigative and diagnostic questions
- Confirming and validating responses
- Reaching resolution and closure
- Using mute or hold on a call
- Escalating or transferring a call
- Building rapport over the phone, in writing, and face-to-face
- Refining word choice, style, and tone
- Managing conflict effectively
- Recovering unsatisfied customers
- Redirecting customers
- Identifying customer behavior