4 Tips For Building Rapport With Contact Center Customers

Written by KOVA Corp

Regardless of the type of contact center you run, it’s always a good business practice to train your employees to work to establish rapport with customers during every contact, whether over the phone or online. If customers feel that they have a friendly relationship with an individual contact center agent, those positive feelings will carry over to the company itself.

But how can agents convey that warm, helpful attitude to customers? Which steps can they take, not only to provide great customer service, but to actually begin forming a positive relationship with each customer?

We’ve assembled a list of 4 tips for building rapport with contact center customers.

1. Train agents to mirror the customer’s tone

Researchers tell us that in order to appear empathetic, people often mirror each other’s body language – if a friend is sitting with her elbows on the table, yours might just end up there, too. It’s no different in a phone or online interaction. The more similar and familiar an agent sounds to a customer, the more their sense of rapport will grow. Train your contact center workforce to listen carefully to the tone, rate, and style of speech during a call, or to analyze the language used by a customer online, and then respond in kind. If a customer doesn’t use technical jargon to describe their problem, then the agent shouldn’t either. If the customer speaks very slowly, have agents slow their rate of speech down, as well. Showing this consideration for the customer can go a long way towards building that rapport.

But in cases where the customer is irritated or upset, it's best to also clarify to your agents that while mirroring speaking characteristics is okay, it is not okay to mirror negative emotions. Instead, teach your agents that it's best to remain calm, understanding, and helpful in all situations.

2. Teach employees to show customers that they’re listening

Customers want to feel like their concerns have been heard. Train your contact center agents to give verbal nods – brief comments like “mm-hmm” or “I see” - throughout the conversation, so that the customer knows they’re listening. And once they’ve finished explaining their situation, have your employees restate their question or concern – while showing empathy. Rather than simply repeating the issue back unemotionally, agents should demonstrate that they care, saying something like, “Your order never arrived? That’s terrible, Mrs. Smith…” That small gesture of understanding will be a foundation for great rapport.

Using the customer's name has more impact on a customer's experience instead of using proper titles such as sir and ma'am. By using the customer's name, the agent will be able to create a more personal feeling, and connect better with the customer.

3. Allow your agents to assert control of the situation

If a customer feels that this empathetic agent is empowered to take real action on their behalf, they will be much more reassured than if they feel no one person cares enough about them to follow through. Even if the caller does need to be transferred, if the initial agent lets the customer know that they have taken ownership of the issue through a positive, emphatic style of speech, the customer will feel less like they are lost in the system, and more like they have been put on the right path by a friendly advocate.

4. Provide a sense of immediacy or reassurance

In every reply your contact center workforce makes to a customer, be sure that they convey either a sense that the issue will be taken care of right now, or, if it will take a bit longer, a sense of reassurance that it will be dealt with as soon as it’s possible. Providing that extra comfort of knowing when something will occur will cement that rapport your agent has worked to build with each customer.

When practices such as these are put in place, customer service levels will soar, and your contact center performance will increase as well. Check back on Kova Corp's blog for more blog posts on call center agent tips, helping to take your customer service to the next level.

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