Building rapport with customers through better communication

Building rapport with customers can help with difficult situations and it’s all down to communication.

Have you ever been in one of those meetings where someone just keeps misunderstanding you? No matter how hard you try, they just don’t seem to get what you are about? That’s rapport – or should I say, lack of rapport. Rapport completely transforms business relationships, making it simpler to achieve exceptional results.

Although we notice and build rapport subconsciously, it is not simply a matter of chance. You can set out to build rapport with colleagues, customers and clients, and it’s not hard to do so.

Natural rapport occurs when we “click” with another human being and it is effortless and easy to communicate and make ourselves understood. We often feel that we are on the same “wavelength” as another and they just “get” us and this is often how we make our friendships outside of the work environment.

Of course, this type of natural rapport does not occur with everyone we meet. Luckily there are specific skills we can learn that enhance rapport and increase our effectiveness in making connections with others.

We all see the world differently as we have all had varying upbringings and experiences leading to our own unique beliefs and identity. When we build rapport with someone we are looking to understand, respect and acknowledge their own unique way of looking at the world. We do not have to agree with the view, simply recognise and respect it.

Match with your customer and how they’re communicating

In order to build rapport we want to match the way we communicate to the way the other person likes to receive information. Excellent communicators truly acknowledge the other person by matching their body language, voice tone and words and giving them the attention they deserve. This then allows them to complement the other person rather than copy them, the intent being to share and understand, to a small extent, the other person’s world.


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It’s worth mentioning that matching is not the same as mimicking or copying customer behaviour. Matching is as much about empathy and reading customer reaction – then using it to alleviate emotional situations.

Listen to customers and what they’re really saying

If we want to match effectively, we need to really listen to the person. Not just to the words the person uses, also how they are saying it. If we listen acutely we can pick up all kinds of things about the voice such as the tones, stresses, pauses, rhythm and pitch as well as the actual words that are said. We can then match our tone to that of the other person. This is incredibly effective to establish rapport on the telephone.

Look and react accordingly

The final element that is vital when establishing rapport face to face is using your eyes to properly observe the body language of the person. Body language, such as posture, gestures, facial expressions and eye movements are often referred to as non-verbal messages. These are proven to be far more influential in putting a message across to another person than the words that are used. We can notice the body language displayed by a person and match it and this is an excellent way of acknowledging them and increasing rapport.

Building rapport is one of the most useful ways of developing effective business relationships, both externally with customers and internally with each other. We use these skills in more of your communication skills training courses. It makes things simpler and easier as energy is focused on understanding each other with a curiosity and desire to get on and make the relationship work. It is the essence of truly successful communication as it allows trust to develop between two people.  It is so powerful because it occurs primarily at a subconscious level, leaving the person feeling understood and valued.

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