27 Effective Ways to Build Customer Rapport

Building rapport with customers is all about creating a common bond of trust, particularly over the phone.

So, you must learn to empathise with your customers, have a genuine interest in their situation and make them feel valued.

This is so important to providing good service and increasing sales.

Here are some tips from our readers on how to build customer rapport.

1. Get their name firstname-185

Ask for the customer’s name first, rather than reference number, address, etc.

It is easy to get the details we need after we have their name. This makes the customer feel like an individual and agents feel as if they are speaking with a person, not a caller.

Thanks to Debbie

2. Smile

Always start the call with a smile – the customer will notice this in your voice.

Thanks to Tony

3. See it from the customer’s perspective

Encourage agents to imagine themselves in the customer’s shoes. Or, if they are struggling to display empathy, ask them to imagine the customer as a close friend or family member.

Thanks to Gareth

4. Share their priorities

Every customer, particularly in an emergency situation, will have a list of priorities. Making them also your priorities and addressing them in the right order (mirroring them) will reassure them that you know what they want and are taking care of them.

Thanks to Michael

angry-customer-1855. Allow them to ‘get it all out’

When the customer is angry, allow them to vent without interruption. Use this time to figure out what you can do to fix their issue.

Thanks to Jennifer

6. Repeat back

Repeat sentences or important details back to the customer, saying “Okay, just to recap…”

This reassures them that you are paying attention.

Thanks to Sarah-Jane

7. Make their problem your problem

Take ownership of the enquiry, especially if it is a complaint. Have a one-to-one relationship with your customer so that they have a point of contact that they can come back to.

Thanks to Veronica

apology-1858. Remember the value of an apology

For those who deal with complaints all the time – a simple, genuine apology at the appropriate time can defuse a difficult customer and break down the barriers to allow space to build rapport.

Thanks to Stephen

9. You don’t have to have ‘things in common’

Some agents may worry that they do not have anything in common with their customers and will therefore be unable to build rapport. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

Our contact centre is based on a particular sport – the best agents with the best customer service skills don’t always share our customers’ love of the sport.

Thanks to Stephen

10. Be adaptable

Agents should be able to adapt their approach – there is no reason to think that all customers should be approached using the same style. Use personal experience to build rapport so that the caller feels you are putting yourself in their shoes.

Thanks to Clair

11. Pace and lead

This technique is extremely useful when someone is in an over-excited state. Start by showing urgency, confidence and concern in your speech patterns and manner to match and reassure them.

Then gradually begin to calm and slow up your speech patterns. As long as the customer feels things are happening and that you’re in rapport, they will follow you down and become calmer in response.

Thanks to Michael

12. Don’t rush

Sometimes agents can identify an issue they have seen regularly and then rush to rectify the problem quickly. But it’s always best to focus on building rapport first.

Thanks to Marcus

13. Take a personal interest

You can build rapport by showing a personal interest in the customer. For example, if a customer says they have been in hospital, ask them how the recovery is going.

If you were speaking to somebody face-to-face and they told you that they had just come out of hospital, you would normally check how they are.

Thanks to Lisa

14. Be aware of your intonation

Go up at the end of the sentence for questions, go down at the end for command (discourage further debate).

Thanks to Michael

 15. Know what you’re selling

Know your product well enough to know your customer – this is where rapport begins.

Thanks to Mark

listen-18516. Really listen

Be a good a listener and try to repeat what the customer says to assure them that you are listening.

Thanks to Redwan

17. Be respectful

Make sure you talk to the customer with respect and in common language. Never talk down to the customer or talk over them.

Thanks to Nicola

18. Start off with something positive

If the customer has spent some time explaining a frustrating problem to you, then beginning your response with a short, direct statement of intent can gain the customer’s confidence.

Something like “Okay, we can fix this…” or “Right, let’s get this problem sorted for you…” will reassure the customer that you are taking ownership of the problem.

Thanks to Matt Phil

19. Keep focused

Stay one hundred percent focused on the customer and don’t let colleagues or other things in the office distract you.

If the customer doesn’t have your full attention, they will always pick up on it.

Thanks to Laura

no-speak-18520. Not all customers want to chat

Remember that angry customers don’t want to build rapport – they just want to tell you what the problem is and for you to fix it.

Thanks to Joanne

21. Avoid assumptions

Don’t make assumptions about what the customer is telling you – actively listen!

Thanks to Kate

22. End on a high

Always ask the customer if there is anything else you can do for them before you end the call. This shows that your priority is giving good service, not just getting the call over with.

Thanks to Matt

23. Be flexible with formality

We address our customers in the way that they introduce themselves. The screen may show them as Christopher Jones, but if the customer calls himself Chris, we will address them in the same way.

Some customers prefer to keep things more formal and may introduce themselves as Mr Jones. It depends on the business.

Thanks to Stephen

smile-18524. Smile through the complaints

You need to always smile, even when the customer is complaining. They don’t want to hear that the agent is having a bad day – they want to know that you will be able to solve the issue and then in turn make the customer smile.

Thanks to Alain

25. Don’t linger on the tough calls

Leave the last call behind and start afresh every time. Every customer is different.

Thanks to Jardine

26. Beware of inappropriate jokes

Everyone must be careful with humour. Sometimes there is too high a risk of a jokey comment being misunderstood, just like sarcasm in emails.

Thanks to Mark

27. Don’t leave them waiting

Be careful when putting people on hold or transferring calls – this can damage rapport as wait times always seem longer when you are lingering in dead space.

Thanks to Clair

Julia added: Don’t leave them waiting – keep the customer informed as to what you are doing, going to do.

Thanks to our readers for adding in even more tips

  • Showing empathy
  • After asking the customer for his name, i address him by calling him by name
  • Make his problem my problem

Thanks to patsimilien

  • Let your customer be involved in everything you do. Updating them from time to time on the things that youve been doing to resolve there issues will make them feel not alone. They will surely appreciate it.

Thanks to Andre

  • Get any post-call survey results, ESPECIALLY verbatim recorded comments, back to the agent that took the call, in real-time.
    There is nothing better at bridging the gap between what the agent does on the call and what the customer felt about it.

Thanks to Alan

  • Be good to the customers even if they are not good to you.Maybe they are not in a good mood. eventually they will realize that they were rude or bad to you.

Thanks to Chetna

Read our Best Tips, Phrases and Words to Use for Building Rapport

What are your tips for building rapport?

Please leave them in the comments box below.

Published On: 7th Aug 2013 - Last modified: 11th Apr 2017
Read more about - Call Centre Management , , , ,

  1. Thanks. What a great collection of ideas. I work in the transportation industry, not call center, but many are great ideas for our drivers.

    Bill 19 Sep at 6:46 pm
  2. great job!

    Aris 28 Sep at 12:34 am
  3. Very useful! 🙂

    Samica 20 Jun at 9:58 am
  4. I am a technical support agent and these advice helped me alot! Thank you.

    Oshy 7 Jul at 11:15 pm

    MICHELLE 17 Oct at 9:45 pm
  6. Brilliant, very useful. Thanks to you all.

    Zak 18 Mar at 2:21 pm
  7. It really help me to prepare my assignment

    Manish 1 Apr at 2:46 pm
  8. Very helpful techniques for call evaluation feedbacks

    Joceanwaters 24 Apr at 1:02 am
  9. very helpful. Thanks.

    kunalika 4 Jun at 12:33 pm
  10. Interesting!

    Mesbah 27 Jul at 12:30 pm
  11. Always call a cst by his first/last name, ma’am or sir

    Zainab 3 Sep at 12:21 pm
  12. Thank you for the tips

    Alex 28 Mar at 9:59 pm
  13. it has helped me a lot.

    eugene 15 May at 1:07 pm
  14. helpful for us

    deepak 3 Oct at 6:15 am
  15. Excellent

    kushal 14 Dec at 11:14 am
  16. good nice i want to apply this as a call center agent.

    remxkie 6 Mar at 11:57 am
  17. Excellent ideas. I work with multiple industry and i am trainee too, i shall adopt these ideas.

    Sunitha 27 Mar at 6:39 am
  18. You should not address the customer by MAAM or SIR !

    Joshua 12 May at 9:10 am
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