Whether you are part of a Fortune 500 company or a first-year startup, you strive to fit in at your company, cultivate relationships, forge friendships, and establish trust. Throughout every layer of your organization, you want to establish rapport quickly so you’re successful – and because it’s human nature! For anyone in charge of client success, it’s important to establish a great relationship with each of your customers also.
Every client is different, but at the end of the day, people are people. Relationships build businesses and one key to building great relationships is rapport.
Below are five ways our digital marketing agency’s Accounts team builds rapport with customers. Hopefully this can serve as a guide for any Account person looking to improve their client relations:
1. Being accessible while setting boundaries
Keep your channels of communication open. The more ways a client can communicate with you, the more secure they feel about your commitment to helping their business. Talk to clients when they want to talk, within reason and based on your availability. Customers are generally understanding of your time boundaries and appreciate you being respectful of their time also. Respond to client communications within 24-48 hours. At the very minimum, even if you’re not ready to answer all of their questions, acknowledge that you received the customer’s email. By responding immediately, it feels more like you’re having an actual conversation, which can help build the relationship and rapport quicker than the alternative of leaving your client waiting and wondering if you saw their request.
2. Bring value with every interaction (have something new to say or give a reminder)
You’re both hoping to get something out of this relationship. Start off strong by finding a way to give your customer something that will be useful and meaningful. Get to know people. Find out what’s affecting their business, what they are concerned about daily. Understand their priorities, and you’ll be able to bring them meaningful value. Value creates rapport, and while it doesn’t have to be something extreme; sharing an article or a piece of advice on something highly relevant to them is often more than enough to show that you are in their corner.
3. Manage expectations and be consistent
Building trust with clients can be difficult. A simple mistake or broken promise could destroy years of built up trust. To avoid this, never let your clients down. Never deceive your clients in any way and be reliable. If you say you’re going to do something, then do it, whether that’s delivering a product or showing up for a meeting or phone call, it shows you value your clients’ time.
The basic rule of thumb: avoid over-promising and setting unrealistic expectations. Instead, set realistic expectations and aim to over-deliver. Doing this is a great way to impress potential and existing clients! It not only builds rapport, but greatly increases the chances that they will continue to work with you.
4. Being consultative and honest
You’ll likely have a hard time building rapport if someone suspects you’re holding back. Start with candor. You can communicate business information about your revenue, or reveal something personal that makes you a bit more vulnerable. By being candid, you can quickly develop rapport with others, as they know they can trust you’ll always have an unfiltered response. From there, your consultative approach to solve problems or address requests will be much more appreciated.
When setting clear time frames for meetings, projects, and deliverables, just know that things will change. Maybe not always, but there will be a hiccup of two along the way. You need to be ready. If anything changes, honesty is key. Pick up the phone as opposed to an email and reset expectations as quickly as possible. This is critical if you want a great relationship with your client.
5. Being friendly
When dealing with angry customers, you should apologize quickly and upfront. A genuine apology will help calm them down. It also goes a long way towards rebuilding goodwill. Also, if you call your customer contact and the person is busy, don’t worry. They will call you back. If you press, you could turn off the client quickly. While many people will tell you not to take “no” for an answer, this isn’t always the best advice in the role of an account person.
Above all else, empathy is an important factor when it comes to building rapport. The way to exhibit this is by making an empathetic statement. Allow the person to talk, then mention that you feel the same way or that you’ve dealt with a similar issue, problem, or situation (if you have). Follow up by telling the person that you understand their struggles and, don’t forget to mention that you’re there to help and that you have their best interest at heart.
Interested in working with our awesome and incredibly talented Accounts team? Please contact us!