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The importance of building rapport for customer relationships, trust and more

Create that trusting bond between agents and callers that will set calls off on the right path from the get go and create good customer relationships, helping you improve service, increase sales and resolve issues.

The importance of building rapport for customer relationships, trust and more
Building rapport with customers means your agents have to be able to create a bond that demonstrates that each – the customer and the agent – trust and understand each other’s feelings and where they’re coming from.
In a call centre environment it’s an essential way of building good relationships with customers, reflecting well on the image of your business and helping to increase sales and customer service performance.
This can involve the type and tone of language used during a call, right through to something as basic as getting the customer’s name right and sets your agents up to handle calls successfully.

Get the customer’s name right

It sounds so obvious and is one of the first things an agent should tackle, but capturing the caller’s name (if you don’t know it already) is important and shows an agent is treating them as a real and unique individual, rather than a statistic on a screen.
Just as important is getting the pronunciation of a name right. Failing on this front can even cause offence, so it’s crucial agents ask at first if they’re not sure and then make sure they remember it. The same applies to names that can be said in different ways or shortened – for example saying “Katy” instead of “Kate” or “Steph” instead of “Stephanie”.
Technology that provides screen-pop information boxes on the screen when an agent is connected to a customer can dramatically help agents in this regard. If a customer is dialled from a data set or has previously been in contact with an agent before, this information will readily be available for the agent to use at the beginning of the phone call.

Use notes or information previously left on a caller

If agents have notes or information at hand regarding a caller, in addition to any notes about them or their situation, agents can pick up where a previous colleague left off.
Not only does this cut back on wasted time by having to find out potentially a lot of the same information as before, it prevents the customer being irritated by having their own time wasted through having to repeat themselves. Your agents and organisation will come across as professional and help to complete an overall smoother process.
Simple box fields on a customer’s account that allow agents to leave whichever notes on a customer they feel is necessary will help achieve this by presenting the information to a following agent on their screen, impressing your caller and improving customer service.

Equip yourself with important pre-call information

When agents are going to be dealing with calls that are more complex in nature or heavy on information, it significantly helps if they are pre-equipped with details prior to being connected to a customer.
In the case of an outbound campaign, utilising preview dialling will help your campaign’s effectiveness in such scenarios. Agents will be able to preview important data attached to the customer before they click to initiate the call to be connected.
This strategy of outbound dialling is particularly popular for customer retention purposes or in B2B campaigns. When agents are ready for their next call they simply click to load the next record, allow time to preview the information that will instantly load to the screen, and then click again to initiate contact.

Drill in to agents the importance of tone and naturalness

The language and tone used by an agent can set the mood for the rest of the call and have a real impact on how it pans out.
Just put yourself into the shoes of a customer on the other end of the phone and think how you feel if you hear a warm, welcoming and upbeat tone. It makes a big difference to your perception of the agent and how it seems they are treating you, making you far more likely to respond in a polite manner and have more patience.
Meanwhile, demonstrating a naturalness shows you are a real and normal personality. For example, making polite comments about any background noise or showing communality about a holiday the customer has just been on or going on, by talking about one you have just been on or going on, can make the customer feel comfortable and find a common ground with you.
Of course, there are a time and place when this will not be required, but it’s down to your agents to use common sense and judge when appropriate.

Allow customers to vent

An angry customer is usually the toughest type of caller an agent will have to handle, with rapport being very difficult to build compared to ‘ordinary’ calls – at least initially.
How an agent handles the caller in the early stages has a big impact on the outcome at the end of the call, typically resulting in either the customer being even more irate or (hopefully) being calmer. Allowing the customer to vent without interruption lets them get their issue off their chest, rather than risk exacerbating the situation.
What it also cleverly does is bide the agent time to figure out a solution to the caller’s problem, whilst also thinking of the correct tone and language to use that will calm the caller down. Technology that provides call centre managers with silent monitoring and in-call coaching facilities can ensure on those even more difficult calls when reasoning and understanding is simply not working, an agent can be given a helping hand by their superior.
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