How to Build Rapport with Customers

Rapport is mutual trust in a relationship. It is something that must be built and maintained, not something that happens as a result of one or two interactions. There are four steps to building rapport with customers.

  1. Break the ice. When you first meet a customer, take a minute or two to get to know him or her. Don't start the conversation immediately with business talk. You want to put the customer at ease and help him or her relate to you first. It only takes a minute to comment about something general. Some possible ice breaker topics are:
    • The weather.
    • Mutual friends.
    • Families and/or pets.
    • Common business interests.
    • Avoid talking about religion or politics.
  2. Listen actively. Focus on what the customer is saying, listening for clues about what he or she needs or wants. Customers will respond to someone they know is paying attention to what they are saying.
  3. Mirror the customer. If you share some common mannerisms, like posture and tone of voice, the customer will feel more comfortable communicating with you.
  4. Be sincere. If you are not sincere when you talk to the customer, he or she will pick up on that, and any rapport that has already been established will disappear.
    • Be yourself.
    • Show you are genuinely committed to your customers.
    • Treat customers with genuine respect.
Author: Janie Sullivan

Janie Sullivan, MBA, MAEd, has been teaching adult learners for over 20 years. She has taught online over 15 years, specializing in writing, communications, and small business applications. Janie directs the Center for Writing Excellence where she offers writing, editing, and formatting services for writers. She has been published in several newspapers and magazines as well as multiple online sites. She teaches communication, business strategy, leadership, and management courses. Janie has published a book "Develop and Deliver an Online Class." This is the third book she has written about writing and teaching online. She also has published a novel and an anthology of short stories.

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