When it comes to business, the customer is always king.
Companies survive and grow on the basis of how they are perceived by the customers.
The flow of sales is dictated by the demand for products, the growth of the company is dependent on existing customers staying loyal to the brand and new customers joining in, the reputation of the company is dictated by the feedback that customers give.
In short, customer behavior influences almost every aspect of a business, which is why it becomes so important for companies to strike a chord with their customers and keep them satisfied.
Building rapport with your customers makes them feel comfortable and helps you win their trust.
Without building rapport, it is impossible to establish a long-term association with a customer, since people do not go shopping repeatedly for brands they do not trust.
Moreover, having a good rapport with your clients contributes to your positive image in the market, which would give you an edge over your competitors.
Especially in case of Business Outsourcing Companies, a high quality of customer service is necessary to build the brand.
In this article, we will discuss a few simple techniques that call centers can use to build rapport with their customers, and how they should go about it to ensure that they get the best possible results.
1. Know your customers beforehand.
Agents need to do their homework before making any particular call.
Information about the customer in question is often provided to the agent, but the insight derived from that information is what separates the best from the average.
The best employees will be able to model their approach to the conversation based on the profile of the customer, and personalize it so that it has the most powerful impact.
There are different ways to pitch to people of different ages, professions, interests and histories.
Knowing what way works with each client is important to ensure a high rate of success, and this can only happen if there is thorough knowledge of the customer beforehand.
2. Shorten wait times as much as possible.
No customer likes having to wait to get connected after they have called in to report an issue, seek a clarification or provide feedback.
Ideally, call centers should have agents manning the phones at all the times, so nobody has to wait to get connected.
However, during the peak hours, the best you can do is try and minimize the waiting times as much as possible.
Scheduling call-backs, providing swift solutions and staffing extra agents during the business hours are some of the ways you can ensure your lines stay open to calls for the majority of the period.
3. Focus more on listening than speaking.
Active listening skills are the most important part of building rapport.
It allows you and the customer to be on the same page, and creates an environment of mutual understanding which is essential for establishing the trust.
Agents must be trained to listen to the customers without unnecessary interruptions, show interest in their problems and take the most important notes that they make, so that they can be referred to later.
Agents also need to cultivate the patience to listen attentively even if the customer is taking too long to explain their problem, and pick up the clues from what they hear rather than trying to enforce their own view by talking themselves for the majority of the time.
4. Bear a positive approach to any problem.
Positivity is an essential trait of a call center employee.
It is necessary to pull sales through, get proper feedback, resolve customer issues, build long-term associations and establish rapport with the clients.
While addressing problems, agents who are able to maintain a positive approach are far more likely to get the issue resolved than those who are more concerned with finding faults or shrugging the issue off.
This attitude rubs off on the customer as well – customers are going to trust you only if you stay positive and assure them of the results.
5. Gather data about the customer to be accurate in conversation.
Best call centers needs to be using software that compiles comprehensive profiles of each customer before they are contacted.
Not only is this necessary for the agents to know more about the person on the other end of the line and carry a conversation smoothly, it also helps in taking data-driven decisions, such as deciding on the best way to pitch a product to a particular client by taking into account his information such as background and age, his previous buying history, key phrases from the previous conversations with the same client, likes and interests, current requirements, and so on.
6. Establish an emotional connection with the callers.
There is no better way to establish rapport than to connect emotionally with your clients.
The easiest way to do that is to put yourself in their shoes.
Ask yourself what your customers really wants and why they need it.
Try to solve their issues by seeing the problem from their perspective as well.
In case things do not work out the way you planned, be genuine in your apology.
Putting in real effort will translate into an emotional connection.
Once you have that, you have a solid rapport with that particular customer, and you can then use this relationship for mutual benefit.
7. Ask questions to show interest.
Asking relevant questions during a conversation is a sign of displaying interest in what the other person has to say.
Agents should be encouraged to ask questions, to understand the specific needs and requirements of the customer on the other end of the line.
It is also an indicator of how intently the agent is listening to the problems being mentioned, and has a positive impact on the customer.
Doing so makes the customer feels like the agent takes personal interest in their problems, and helps to solidify the relationship between the two.
8. Run off-script if necessary, but do not sound mechanical.
The worst thing you can do is to give the impression that your part of the conversation is merely being read off a script.
Customers want a more personalized approach to their problems, and they want to feel like they are being treated as individual entities rather than a statistic in a particular group.
Agents needs to be able to take decisions on the spot, and sometimes continue conversations beyond the scripted lines, in order to establish rapport with the customers concerned.
Customers are more likely to trust a warm, cheerful approach over a generic script, so agents need to retain the human touch in order to get the customers to associate with what they have to say.
9. Address customers with respect.
The onus is on the call center agent to show respect to the customer during and after a call is made.
The impression you create in the mind of the customer is of paramount importance if you are hoping to have a good rapport with them.
In this regard, you must quickly determine what values the customer holds most dearly, and adhere to them during every subsequent conversation.
Even if a customer is complaining, expressing frustration or being rude on the phone, agents must answer respectfully and politely, since the reputation of the firm is at stake.
10. Start from the first call and never end.
Building a rapport is a continuous process.
First impressions matter, so you have to get the customer to like you from the very first call.
However, you cannot simply switch off once you have gained their trust, because establishing a good relationship means working hard to keep it that way.
Just like personal relationships, business relationships can be dynamic and it changes the course if something goes wrong. Therefore, you must look at the long term objectives and evolve in the rapport you have built within the passage of time.
The Case Study
We have outlined the ten most important ways to build rapport with your customers.
These practices have to be followed by all agents for the results to show.
Also, agents should know more about their customers and how to approach them using the call center software to gather data and derive insights. Taking data-driven decisions can go a long way in ensuring the success.
To demonstrate how key these efforts are towards cultivating a more service oriented approach, let us take the example of Shelmod Solutions, a telemarketing agency providing the call center solutions for an established company.
In this case study, we will focus on the situations they were in with regards to the challenges they faced in their operations, how they implemented strategies to overcome those challenges, and the results of such moves.
We will also see whether or not the company saw gains come out of it in the short and long term.
The Problem Scenario
Shelmod Solutions was coming across a deterioration in their relationship with their customers over the last couple of years.
Customer attrition rates were increasing, new business was hard to find, customer satisfaction levels were down compared to the previous years’ surveys, and the general sales figures were also stagnant.
In this scenario, their competitors were benefiting and taking over the lead in the market.
Shelmod was looking to bring about changes in their operations, so that they could have a better rapport with their customers and establish trust, so that they remain loyal to the brand.
The challenges faced by the company are listed below.
1. Customers had to go through significant holding times and waiting periods if they called in during the busier periods of the day, which often resulting in customers choosing to go to a competitor rather than waiting for their chance to talk to an agent.
2. The software being used did not compile profiles of customers comprehensively enough to give agents an idea of how best to approach a more personalized pitch.
3. Agents were so engrossed with staying on-script that they sometimes came across as generic and mechanical.
As a result, customers were not attracted to their pitch and did not listen to what they had to say, despite them outlining the features as planned.
The solutions that were proposed are as follows.
1. The company took up a more dynamic approach to staffing and scheduling to ensure more people were ready to take calls during the peak hours, in a bid to reduce wait times for the customers and provide them with more prompt service.
2. They decided to invest in the best call center software which would present trends according to the data about every customer and modify the conversation to fit perfectly with them individually.
3. Agents were encouraged to keep the conversation dynamic in order to build rapport with the customers.
If that meant going off the script to engage the customers additionally, they were welcome to do so as long as it yielded the results. They were given the autonomy to make that decision themselves during the call.
After the new protocol was put in place, new technology was brought in and training was provided to agents to use it properly and devise new strategies while on call, it took the company a year to cover up the investments made for the same.
From that point on, they saw overwhelmingly positive results.
Quality of service was reported as having improved by over 20%, customer attrition rates were down year on year, and revenue generation through sales started growing at a much better rate.
Within the next three years, they were back to being the leader in providing the telemarketing software solutions.
The company was successfully able to pull back its original customer base, and was attracting new clients as well. They had built a good rapport with their existing customers, so they were assured of their loyalty.
Thus we can see how companies build rapport with their customers, and why that plays such an important role in the business.
Using the modern call center software solutions to derive intelligence, companies want to know everything about a customer in order to serve them better.
Following the tips given here will help your company build rapport through the outsourcing companies.