Building a good rapport with your customers to gain long-term business relationships

According to the Market Research Society, building rapport is essential for effective customer communication – here’s how do it.

Rapport is the connection built between two people.

It’s the act of ensuring that those around you feel comfortable as well as accepted. In order to establish a good rapport we must know how to connect with others regardless of their age, gender, ethnic background, mood or the situation.

Building and maintaining a strong and healthy customer relationship with all of your clients is also crucial to the success of your business. Through forming these long-term relationships, the business automatically stands out  from its competition.

The Market Research Society advises that your overall goal as a business should be to understand your clients rather than expecting them to understand you. You can simply achieve this by listening more than talking. Through listening you are more likely to show that you actually care about the client. You also need to have self-awareness and consider what it would be like to be a customer – how would you expect or want a business to treat you?

Related: How to maximise sales through the art of listening

Dedication and time are the two factors that are key to building sound customer relations, so make sure you prioritise them.

Four important business relationships principles

Mark Morris, a professor of business management and entrepreneurship at Brigham Young University-Idaho has this four principle approach to business relationships.

The first principle he introduced is, ‘A friend, friend is a win-win’. He advises businesses to always think beyond what a client can do for you in a business relationship because having a transaction mindset can make you lose out.

If you build and invest in these relationships over time rather than treating them as transactions they can reward you in the long run.

The second principle that Morris presented is, ‘Try not to burn bridges but build them’, even if it doesn’t start well. Burning a bridge may mean that you can’t cross that bridge again. And you shouldn’t give up and push a client aside if you cannot seem to connect with them through a business relationship.

Ensure you build a good rapport with your employees too, as they can also become potential clients in the future.

The third principle of the approach is to, ‘Beware of dreaming alone’. You must identify a common vision between both yourself as a business and your client – you both need to be on the same page in order to be able to understand each other.

The last principle simply asks, ‘Where is the love?’ Morris invites you to ask yourself where the love is in the relationship.

Customers can easily recognise if you are there to make money or if you are there to actually help them so a bit of care and dedication must be shown to the client.

That way, the client is more likely to trust and appreciate you as a business as they are reassured that their needs will be met and they’ll keep coming back.

Related: Eight smart ways to build relationships in business

Matching and mirroring

Tony Robbins, an American author, entrepreneur, philanthropist and life coach teaches us about the strategy of matching and mirroring as a method of building good rapport.

Matching and mirroring is when you deliberately take on someone else’s style of behaviour in order to create rapport. This is a way of becoming highly tuned to another person. Robbins speaks of achieving this through:

  • Your voice tone, or the ways in which you sound. This could be the speed and volume of your voice, for example.
  • Speech patterns – pick up the key words or phrases your client uses and build these subtly into your conversation. Do they like detail, or talk about the bigger picture?
  • Rhythm of body movement and energy levels
  • Body postures and gestures

He says that rapport is powerful and created by a feeling of commonality:

‘When we feel that we have something in common there is a spark’.

The crux is that people don’t buy products, they buy feelings. As a business you should be aiming to make your customers feel valued by investing your care and time into them; once you do this your business will reap the benefits.

Overall, to build a good rapport with your customers you must do more for your them than anyone else by adding value. After all, happy customers are better for your business.

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