How To Build Customer Rapport: Tips For Asking The Right Questions
Building rapport is key to building a connection with a prospective customer. This stage of the sales process is what builds mutual trust, but it can be difficult for sales reps to ask the right questions. Because of this, they may resort to generic icebreaker questions that lack a personal touch.
While these questions are easier to ask, they make it harder to have genuine conversations that build customer rapport. But what are effective rapport-building questions? Keep reading to learn how to ask the questions that will help you form a good business relationship!
What Is Customer Rapport?
Customer rapport is getting to know your clients on a more personal level. It’s a foundation of trust and understanding that you’ve formed with another person or group. Rapport takes time to build and earn. By asking the right questions and showing attentive listening, you can form solid rapport.
Benefits Of Building Customer Rapport
All companies will have moments where they fall short or make mistakes. But if you already have a foundation of trust with your customers, they’re less likely to toss you aside for the competition. They’re also less likely to reply to you with objections or rebuttals about your sales pitch.
Building customer rapport is a sales skill that also helps lead acquisition and conversion. Clients value good customer experience and are willing to pay more for it. If you build a reputation for proactive customer service and attentive listening, you will attract more potential clients!
How To Build Rapport With Customers
Wondering how to build rapport during sales interactions? These five simple ways will help you form professional, trustworthy relationships with clients.
Give customers more personalized service
Saying standard greetings during sales calls is part and parcel of the process. However, it can feel very generic and unenthusiastic. Something as simple as calling your customer by their first name and introducing yourself by your first name can put a personal touch.
Subtle changes like this one can make service more personal. Simplify the process of sending personalized emails and messages by using automated marketing tools. These can draw on your customer database for more efficient replies.
Show commitment to their wants and needs
Customers can be wary of marketing strategies and may have mistrust of customer service, especially if they’ve had bad experiences in the past with other companies. Show them that you’re working to solve their problems by offering different channels for support.
One way you can learn more about their short and long-term goals is by investing in revenue intelligence software. This will gather more data about customers and give you insight into what potential solutions they need.
Offer proactive customer service to clients
Don’t wait for your customers to come to you with their problems. One of the best ways to build a strong client relationship is to show that you keep their best interests in mind. Ask them if there’s anything you can do for them or if they’re experiencing difficulties, then offer solutions.
Get customer feedback
Getting input from your customer base is key to building trust. Ignoring their feedback makes your sales interactions one-sided. No client would be happy staying with a company that didn’t pay attention to their opinions. By making them feel heard, you can build customer loyalty and reduce churn rates, a.k.a. the rates at which your customer base stops buying from your business.
What Are Rapport-Building Questions?
Rapport-building questions are questions that build common ground with other people. They typically have unique and memorable answers that give more insight into a person’s life and thoughts. While they aren’t deep enough to build a more meaningful connection, the back-and-forth nature of these questions makes them more engaging.
Anatomy Of A Memorable Rapport-Building Question
The best questions for building rapport in sales should have these qualities:
- Personal: Generic questions are easy to blow off, but asking more specific questions shows that you pay attention to them. This interest makes it a more meaningful conversation for your client and makes it more likely for them to give trust-building responses full of information.
- Respectful: Asking your potential customers specific and personal questions doesn’t mean you should push them out of their comfort zone. Don’t ask them questions that are intrusive or inappropriate.
- Distinct: Questions that are a bit more quirky and unexpected can feel more genuine. This can catch potential clients off-guard and make them more likely to give an honest answer. Honesty creates the personal bond that separates this from other transactional relationships!
15 Questions To Ask Your Customers To Establish & Build Rapport
Not sure what to ask your customers to build rapport? Here are 15 examples to help you out, and why they’re so effective.
1. Is it true what they say about living in [city/state]?
This can be phrased to bring up certain stereotypes about their location, like “Is it true what they say about living in New York, that it’s pretty much a city where no one sleeps?” Open-ended questions like these give them room to elaborate about a place they’re familiar with.
2. Since you live in [city/state], do you go to [local attraction] all the time?
This is another location-based question that shows you pay attention to where they’re based. It also gives you the chance to ask follow-up questions about which attractions they deem exciting or a hard pass. While unrelated to your company’s services, it shows that you value their opinion.
3. If I had the opportunity to pass through [city/state], what would be your top recommendations?
This kind of open-ended question demonstrates interest in their opinions. It also offers more insight into things that they value. Do they suggest nightlife hotspots or family-friendly attractions? Are their suggested activities geared towards travel, cuisine, or fashion? These small personal tidbits can be brought up again in the next interaction to show your active listening.
4. Is [city/state] a good location for [customer’s industry/company/profession]?
Reflective questions like this one will show that you pay attention to their professional concerns. It’s simple, but it’s effective at showing that your company knows how to cater to client needs.
5. I’ve heard [nearby restaurant/city/state] has amazing [food item]. Does it deserve the hype?
This simple question can feel very refreshing and human. It’s not related to company services or sales, which gives it a more genuine vibe for a trustworthy relationship.
6. What’s your commute like? (Do you drive, take public transit, carpool, etc.)
Many people bond over the agony of commuting! Bringing it up is one of the most basic yet effective questions for forming relationships with prospects. It’s a question that can help you show a more sympathetic side, seek their opinions, and offer solutions.
7. Is [city/state] where your company is located, or do you work remotely?
Remote work versus site-based work is a long-standing concern with professionals. It’s become even more important since the COVID-19 pandemic. This question offers them an opening to briefly talk about the pros and cons of their current work setup.
8. When’s the best time of year to visit [city/state]?
This may appear to be a generic question, but many people love to share their opinion about the best times to visit their locality! There are many factors that come into play: tourist volume, weather, events, and so on. All of these have different levels of importance to customers, and what they value is always a useful insight for a good client relationship.
9. My [niece/son/grandchild] wants to become a [profession]. Do you have any advice I should pass on?
These kinds of career-related questions can seem very serious. However, many people take it very off-handedly and are delighted to offer insight about their field, especially to young newcomers.
10. I saw you used to work in [different field/profession/industry]. How was the transition?
Everyone can relate to the joys and difficulties of switching jobs. This question provides an opportunity for your client to both gush and complain about their new work.
11. You tweeted about going to [conference] — have you been before? I’m debating whether or not to go, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Career-related questions are an easy way to demonstrate interest and build rapport without sounding generic. This gives them a chance to talk about their likes and dislikes about events, and could be useful for finding out more about their customer preferences.
12. My friend used to work at [current or former company]. Do you know [name]? What was it like working there?
One of the basic ways that we build relationships with other people is to ask if they may know someone based on a common employer, field, or school. This lets potential customers open up about mutual connections. It also tells you about what they find valuable in a workplace and the kind of environment they prefer.
13. As a rep for [company], I talk to a lot of people in [customer’s profession], but you’re the first I’ve met who’s ever majored in [unexpected major]! How’d that happen?
A small quirk often makes for an interesting, personal story. If your customer majored in an unexpected subject, asking this can feel more personalized without being out of bounds.
14. I read on your LinkedIn that you spoke at [event] — really impressive. Do you have any future speaking events lined up?
This is a question that indicates interest in their profession and the level they’ve achieved within it. While this may seem like one of those simple ‘yes or no’ types of questions, it also opens the door for them to elaborate. What do they have planned? Why don’t they have any future events at the moment?
15. I noticed you have your X certification. What was the process of getting that like?
Certifications can indicate both professional expertise and personal interest. They also take a certain level of skill and time to complete. Asking them about it gives them an opportunity to talk about their achievements and share knowledge about their experiences.
Building customer rapport means ditching the standard icebreaker questions and getting to know your clients better. By showing that you value their thoughts and using a more personal approach, they are more likely to trust you and be open to your pitches.
Try forming your own questions based on our standards for a good rapport-building question. Ask your customers these next time, and see the difference when they warm up to you!