As a sales or marketing executive, your ability to relate to your customers in a way that creates a strong sense of understanding and trust is vital to your longevity. You can learn how to build rapport with them so they not only buy the products or services you're selling, they also buy into the reasons your business exists. In other words, they support your mission.
You could see a 306% higher lifetime value from your customers if you build rapport and form an emotional connection with them. You'll not only have devoted customers, in some cases, they'll spend twice as much as those who label themselves as merely "satisfied" with your brand.
Here's how to build rapport with your customers.
1. Follow the Golden Rule
Everyone's heard of the Golden Rule.
Treat others as you would want to be treated.
Adopt this practice with your business and treat your customers like you, yourself as a customer, would want to be treated.
Few would argue that ethics are directly linked to a company’s long-term success. So it makes perfect sense to apply the Golden Rule to your business. That includes your customers and your staff.
If you treat your customers well, they'll be happy and more likely to continue doing business with you. Plus, you'll get their stamp of approval when they talk to friends and family.
If you treat your staff well, they'll be motivated to do a better job, which then circles back to your customers and their happiness.
Set a Standard for Success
It's invaluable to have solid standards to abide by when you make business decisions. Companies (both big and small) come and go, so if you have a set of ethics in order, and you follow them in all your business practices, you'll have an advantage over your competition. Here's how to build rapport with some actionable tips that can't miss.
- Build and protect a good reputation.
- Don't mistreat others to scale the corporate ladder.
- Treat everyone you deal with fairly.
- Go beyond what's required of you.
- Continually improve the customer experience.
Whenever you're faced with making a decision, always return to the Golden Rule. As your company grows, continue to exceed your customers' expectations and treat them as you would want to be treated. It may not be the fastest road to success, but it will provide the foundation for long-term prosperity.
2. Be Authentic
According to a study by the globally recognized Boston Consulting Group, authenticity is one of the main qualities that attracts customers to a brand. Millennials are on board with the concept, too. It's right up there with customer loyalty programs when choosing a company to support.
For your brand to be authentic, you'll need to be reliable, respectful, and real. Do what you say you're going to do. Treat your customers and co-workers with care, and remain down to earth, no matter how successful you become.
Authentic brands energize consumers. When they become emotionally invested with your authentic brand, they'll buy your products even if there's a less-expensive alternative readily available. As a result, you'll likely have more loyal followers and more profits. So it pays—literally—to be authentic.
One great way to show the authenticity of your organization is via social media. In an era of transparency, how you make your product is just as important as how you treat your customers. Consumers want to engage with brands that are honest about their business practices. They don't want gimmicky, in-your-face sales pitches that oftentimes come across as distant and shady.
Let your customers see how your business runs from an insider's perspective. Here are some ideas:
- Reveal various parts of your manufacturing process.
- Share photos of your staff at work.
- Provide helpful tips for the best ways to use your product or service.
- Help your customers solve their problems with step-by-step instructions.
According to John Tschohl, founder and president of the Service Quality Institute:
If you make it your aim to build rapport with your customers by involving them in your day-to-day operations, they will give you back ten-fold the information and friendship you need to be a success.
When you strive for authenticity on a daily basis, you're laying the groundwork for a long and prosperous life for your business.
3. Set a Personal Tone with Your Communications
Every customer wants personal attention, so call them by name. It makes them feel special. This technique is rather simple, and it helps build rapport quickly. That's why it's at the heart of any modern-day marketing strategy, no matter what channel of communication you're using.
American writer Dale Carnegie once said:
“A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”
Depending upon how you interact with your customers, there are a variety of ways to personalize your communications. Let's look at how to build rapport with a few of the most popular methods:
Direct Mail Personalization
Direct mail is an effective marketing medium in its own right. When you add personalization, it gets even better. More than 84% of consumers said they’d probably open mail that's personalized. That's enough reason to make sure you apply it to your next direct mail marketing campaign.
There are lots of ways to personalize direct mail. Headlines, envelopes, and images are a few of them. Plus, you can use variable data printing (VDP) to automate the process so you're not sending the exact same piece of mail to everyone on your mailing list. For example, with VDP, you could reference a customer's nearest store and include a coupon code for that particular location.
Smart digital marketers know email has an impressive ROI. In fact, it's been the king of digital marketing for the past 10 years, and it's proven more effective than social media. That's reason enough to include it as part of your next marketing campaign. When you add some personalization, the results get even better.
For example, if you add a customer's name to the subject line of an email, you increase the open rate by 20%.
You can also personalize your website pages and landing pages. Rather than giving all your visitors the same page to look at, create a personalized experience based on their unique preferences. That way, when a customer arrives at a particular web page or landing page, they'll receive a greeting by name, industry, location, etc.
Does this type of personalization work? Studies show that personalized content does 212% better than standard content.
But, Don't Overdo Personalization
Be warned, however, that you can have too much of a good thing. If you overuse your customer's name, your correspondence will sound calculated. You'll come across as someone who's trying too hard or you'll just appear to be fake with your intentions. It might even seem creepy.
4. Highlight Special Occasions
A great way to build rapport with your customers is to remember them at important moments in their lives. Here are some popular times to send a message reminding your audience how special they are to you.
Birthdays. Many brands choose to remember their customer's birthday as a way to send along a memorable message with a free redemption offering, bonus product, or discount code.
Anniversaries. When did you first start doing business with a customer? Mark down that day as a special one to remember and send along a word of thanks. As with birthdays, it wouldn't hurt to include something of value, like a free offering or discount coupon.
Holidays. Pick a particular time of year (like the Christmas holiday season) and send a message of thanks with a "gift" of choice. If you'd like to take it a step further, pick a unique national "holiday" that may or may not relate to your business. For example, you could pick National Brownie Day to send your customers a box of baked goods. If that's not feasible, you could simply send a happy email message on International Day of Happiness.
Referrals. If a customer refers another customer to you, reward them by sending something of value—a finder's fee, if you will.
For No Reason at All. Do you really need a reason to say thanks? Surprise and delight your customers with a special thank-you gift for no reason at all.
Automate Special Occasions
To save yourself time—and to assist in the process of never forgetting a worthy customer—set up automated emails to deliver heartfelt messages at specific times. For instance, when a customer makes their first purchase from you, you could have a congratulatory email pre-written, personalized, and ready to arrive in their email inbox.
Automation is helpful in remembering and acknowledging milestone occasions, but it's even more impressive if you send a handwritten note during these times.
5. Send a Handwritten Note of Thanks
Few things say you really care more than a handwritten note of appreciation. That's why the greeting card industry is still booming with approximately $8 billion in annual sales. People buy cards, they sign their name and write a brief note inside, and they address the envelope, oftentimes by hand.
From a business perspective, the same principal applies. When you send a thank-you note to a customer, you're taking the time to show you care. As a result, you'll stand out as a merchant who really appreciates their customers.
Naturally, if you're talking about a large number of customers, the task of sending hundreds or even thousands of thank-you notes becomes unreasonable. Consider sending digitally handwritten messages. Digital handwriting looks like the real thing and it shows that you care enough to make the effort to select the appropriate handwriting style.
Simply Written helps you build rapport with digitally handwritten notes. Business handwriting has never been this easy or effective. Our patented technology uses the natural variations of real handwriting to help you create connections that last a lifetime. To see the technology for yourself, request a free printed sample today.
6. Work at Building Trust
Your customers will trust you if you do what you say you're going to do. That trust, over time, builds a genuine rapport.
About 80% of shoppers said they grew to love a brand over time. But it took great products, outstanding customer service, and successful buying experiences—plus positive reviews and recommendations from others—to get there.
Your customers will be pleasantly surprised when their order arrives early. They'll also be delighted by some "freebies" inside the box. Then, a week after delivery, you check in with an email that asks how they're enjoying their new product and to see if they have any questions. You didn't promise those things, they just showed up as better than expected additions. That makes you look good.
The important thing to remember is that you don't want to use the underpromise-overdeliver principle as an excuse to promote a lower level of service or product benefits. Don't set the bar low just so you can easily top it. Rather, set ambitious goals and take them further to make your customers happy.
If you do these things consistently, you'll demonstrate how to build rapport, trust—and achievable expectations—from your customers.
Treat Their Information with Care
When customers give you their personal and/or financial information, they're also giving you their trust. Don't betray that trust by losing or abusing their information. They don't want to have to provide their details over again, nor do they want to receive an endless flow of annoying emails or text messages from you or any other businesses you might give their contact data to.
7. Make Your Customers Feel Special
While all of the aforementioned tips will help make your customers feel special, in closing, here's some more advice to help win over your following:
- Respond to inquiries as quickly as possible. Don't make your customers wait long for a response. You'll build rapport when you get back with them quickly.
- Focus on the customer at all times. You may want to spotlight the happenings of your brand (a natural inclination), but keep your focus on your customer at all times.
- Never make excuses. Own any mistakes you make and assure the customer you're going to make things right by them.
- Make your customer feel good about their purchase. Sometimes people buy a product, then question whether they should have. Erase that doubt immediately with a congratulatory note about why they just made a great decision to purchase your product or service.
- Ask questions. Be friendly and get to know your customers. You'll impress them when you care enough to ask them about their day, etc. Be sure you take the time to really listen to their answers, though. Otherwise it just seems fake.
When You Build Rapport With Your Customers, You Build Your Business
It takes time and effort to build rapport with your customers. If you follow the advice in this article, however, you'll get there sooner than later.
Follow the Golden Rule and apply it to all your business practices—both internal and external. Be authentic in your everyday endeavors and offer your customers a transparent view into the inner workings of your brand. Then personalize your communications with your customers and remember to thank them for their loyalty. A handwritten note is always a great way to show how much you care.
Finally, work at learning how to build rapport and trust with your customers and use as many methods of customer appreciation as possible to make them feel special. Along the way, you'll turn one-time customers into long-time supporters of your brand.