Stop Ignoring Your Customer:
Six Techniques to Building Customer Rapport
By Laurie Brown
a question for all of you. As a customer, how many of you have had a
bad customer service experience? Hmm. Looks like it's all of you.
So think about it, if all of you have had a bad experience, it means
that most likely all of your customers have had one too.
customers have had a bad experience, then consciously or
unconsciously, they are affected by it. Have you ever noticed that
some customers come in with an attitude — a chip on their shoulder
or an emotional wall up? In these situations, when your customers
are on the offense, like so many other service providers, you end up
feeling defensive. But, it isn't necessarily about you. It is based
on another experience with another person they have dealt with. So
what can you do to remove the chip and break down the wall?
your customers warmly and sincerely. A truly warm welcome can be
totally disarming. Imagine walking into a restaurant and being
greeted as a friend or member of the family— someone who was
grateful to have you walk in to their place. No matter how good the
meal was, you would still be happy you went there. The experience
would have been positive enough that you would gladly give them
though greeting your customer sounds so basic, aren't you amazed at
how often people fail to do this properly, leaving you feeling
ignored and poorly treated? Remember you only have about five
seconds to create an impression — make sure it is a good one! A good
greeting not only starts things off on the right foot, it can also
build a strong foundation for the future.
are the elements of a good greeting?
an attitude check. Before you start your workday, do a personal
inventory. How you are feeling? Are you tense? Are you rested? Did
you just have a frustrating drive in to work? Did you have an
argument with someone? Be aware of how you are feeling and what you
are thinking, and leave any negative emotions at the door. You’ll
find it is too hard to automatically treat others well when you are
battling with your own problems.
Immediate customer recognition. Don't wait even a
couple of minutes to acknowledge your guest’s presence. If you are
in proximity of your customer, say hello. If you are with another
customer you can still acknowledge them. Nothing is more frustrating
than waiting for someone to notice you. A simple nod of the head,
eye contact or a brief comment will let the person waiting know that
you have seen them and will soon be with them. Whether you are the
janitor or the CEO, say hello to the customer as soon as you can. No
matter what your position — you’re in the customer service business.
Make the greeting warm and sincere. Customers have
sincerity radar. They can tell if you are “faking it.” One of the
best ways to ensure that your greeting is warm and sincere is by
expressing your gratitude. If you are not truly grateful that this
person chose your establishment, you need to remember where your
paycheck is REALLY coming from. The more that you can feel
appreciative that this person has decided to do business with you,
the better you will treat them.
Handshakes are optional. It is usually standard
practice to make sure that everyone gets a handshake, but the
fact is, there are many cultures that find a handshake offensive.
With the world getting more culturally diverse, the best tip is to
wait with your hands at your side until the customer makes the first
move and then respond by doing what they do, whether it’s a
handshake, a hug or a bow
Avoid asking, "How may I help you?" In a sales
situation, this question allows the customer to say, "just looking,"
at which point you are already at a disadvantage. It’s better to
start off with, "How are you?” or a compliment on something they are
wearing, such as, "great glasses, where did you get them?” or even a
comment on the weather. Conversations like these can often help you
start building rapport. But if your customer doesn't like small talk
get to the point quickly.
Understand your customer. Begin your relationship
with the true goal of finding out their wants and needs and then try
to make sure that you fulfill them. Working with this goal foremost
in your mind will help define every action you take.
matter what your business, your customer has needs that are spoken
and unspoken. This means that you need to listen carefully. Listen
with your ears, eyes, heart and mind. Listen to the words they are
saying, observe their body language, listen to their tone to
understand the emotional content, and be aware of what is not being
said. Effective listening will help you deeply understand your
customer. If your goal is to meet and exceed their needs, you can
create a loyal customer who will tell their friends and family about
you and your business.
Following these six steps will help you start building greater
rapport and trust with your customers. The sooner you build rapport
and trust, the sooner you can remove that chip from their shoulder
or start tearing down their wall and create a "customer for life."
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