A study by TrackVia reveals that CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is known to improve customer retention by 27%.

Yes, maintaining cordial rapport with customers is that important.

Customer rapport helps in building customer loyalty. Further, like a bonus, a loyal customer will always give you genuine feedback on your product quality or prices.

Take an example: ABC is an established business supplying bread to major restaurants in the town. XYZ is a new entrant business selling the same bread at a lesser price. Since ABC has built customer rapport over the years, it won’t be easy for its clients (major restaurants) to shift to XYZ solely based on price. In a worst-case scenario, it may happen that the clients would call up ABC & say ‘Hey, your price seems to a bit on the higher side as compared to XYZ’s’.

So, how can a small business owner build rapport with her/his customers without investing in a team or hiring an agency?

Some unconventional, easy & practical ways of building rapport with customers are listed below:

HOW TO BUILD RAPPORT WITH CUSTOMERS

1. Start a Meeting with a Cup of Coffee

In face-to-face customer meetings, a simple ritual of starting with a cup of coffee or tea can work like magic. Customers (or humans for that matter) crave for attention & offering a cup of coffee signals them that they are worthy of seller’s attention. Biologically as well, coffee can stimulate brain & increase the alertness level.

2. Don’t Jump to Business Right Away

Whenever you talk to a customer in person or over the phone, start with asking informal questions like “How are you?” “How is your family?” “How is your little one?” “Isn’t the road traffic horrible today?” “Saw yesterday’s match?” etc.

The aforesaid questions will be enough to trigger an informal discussion & set the tone for rest of the meeting. Further, such informal discussion will make the customer believe that you are not a regular ‘money-oriented’ guy & she/he can trust you with business.

In simple terms, meet a customer just like you meet a friend.

3. Choose Voice Over Text to Communicate Over Phone

Even for a trivial exchange of information, choose to voice call rather than pinging on messenger apps. Because voice calls will signal to customers that you value them & therefore made the effort to voice call. Also, voice call avoids incorrect interpretation & promotes frank discussion.

4. Meet in Person Once in a While

You may be busy but trust me when I say that meeting in person will pay you rich dividends in long-term. Meeting in person breaks the ice & fosters strong business relationship. Trust is a powerful term in business & face-to-face meetings can help build this trust faster than anything else.

5. Talk Like a Subject Expert

You must talk like a subject expert. But, you can talk like a subject expert only when you know the technical aspects of your products. If you are into selling bread, then you ought to know about the variety, textures, nutrition etc. of bread.

Talking like expert will make you more trustworthy & improve rapport from the business point of view. And, if time permits, then you may try sending weekly email updates covering your industry.

6. Surprise Customers

Customers (just like humans in general) are fond of surprises. So, you may try stuff like mailing them physical greeting cards on birthdays & festivals (no emails please!), sending free product samples, conducting customer get-to-gather etc.

7. Spend More Time on Field

Delegate operational responsibilities & spend more time on the field. Talk to end users(consumers), gather feedback, network & market.

In short, be more accessible to your customers

Related: Proven Ways To Deal With Difficult Customers