Creating Loyal Clients Through Trust and Rapport

Trust, Rapport and Creating Loyal Clients

The words ‘trust’ and ‘rapport’ seem to be in common parlance within professional services businesses as if they are automatic givens, like ‘email’ and ‘smart phone’, yet only the shrewd and knowledgeable businesses truly understand the significance of these two key words to growing a sizeable quality client base.  Going back in time, rapport was not a common feature of the advisor-client relationship. If you consider medicine for example, rapport was often deliberately missed out, and in banking it was only considered as an ‘add-on’ if the customer was rich.  Fortunately times have changed and with the advent of social media, more people appreciate the importance of rapport, which leads to trust and, in turn, creates the all-important ongoing loyal client relationship, whereas rapport is called many other things in this brave new world of internet marketing.  When done well it transforms the fortunes of an average professional advisor’s business practice.

Why we trust Rapport more than the actual Person

This is because people buy feelings first and the product or service second.  In fact the majority of people making a commercial decision, however big or small, always tend to trust their intuition consciously or subconsciously.  An advisor may have impeccable qualifications and an impressive track record in business, but if he or she doesn’t send out the right vibes any prospective new client is unlikely to want to forge a relationship with them and is likely to keep searching.  Trust, of course, can only be created if there’s rapport in the first place.  Rapport is about harmony, good feelings between individuals and an understanding that is empathetic, but how can you create this from scratch?  One important point is that you cannot fake rapport.  Perhaps you could do this and get away with it very short term, akin to confidence trickery, but unless it’s the real thing you will always get caught out.  In any case, it’s highly unlikely any professional advisor would get much satisfaction building a business on sand rather than stone.

How you create Rapport easily and quickly - 4 Top Tips

1 - Matching versus Mirroring

Matching is about being in the same ball park, where mirroring is behaving exactly like the other person.  Now think about this; if you were sitting on a train and the person opposite you was copying your body language to the letter, would you perhaps want to move your seat or call the guard?  At the very least you are likely to feel most uncomfortable and the last thing on your mind would be a sense of rapport.  The only people who can get away with mirroring where it creates instant rapport is children, and normally they would have to be your own or within the same family.

Matching, however, is something very different and is extremely potent.  It’s something retailers still have a major difficulty with.  Smiling at each and every customer who walks into the store is not matching, it’s a sheep-dip process and, overall, will not be very successful.  Naturally, if the customer is smiling and you smile back - that’s fine, but what if they have a neutral expression or a frown?  To truly match the person, you’d need to offer back a similar expression.  This never seems right in business, but will actually work more effectively than the ‘just smile at everyone’ strategy.  Imagine meeting a potential client for the first time, rather than stretch your hand out for the standard ‘handshake habit’, maybe pause a couple of seconds to see what they want to do first.  Look at their face and match their expression - with one critical difference - if they’re frowning or have a negative look, do not mirror this.  By all means also look a little serious, but at the earliest opportunity improve your expression in a positive way and see if this prompts them to improve their expression too. (This is called Pacing and Leading).

2 - Shared Values

The other thing that creates rapport is shared values and beliefs.  This may not always be possible.  For example, you may be aware that a particular client is a member of a political party that you have no allegiance to, so then ensure you don’t discuss anything political and do find other values that you are able to share, even if it’s just about a magazine you both read or a movie you both rate highly.

3 - Trivia Alignment

A quick way to start the rapport connecting process apart from matching body language, facial expressions and share values, is picking up on trivia.  Maybe the client shops at the same store as you, or a member of your family does, which could now spark the initial conversation.  Do they have an accent similar to your best friend or a school teacher that you owe a great deal to?  The trivia element is an easy and rapid way to spark initial rapport.

4 - Eye Contact

Careful here, eye contact is one of those things that’s so powerful, too much of it can be a bad thing.  However, lack of eye contact is probably all together worse.  Whether you’re comfortable with giving eye contact or not, it’s important that there is some eye contact.  It should not be for a sustained period, which is not recommended.  If you notice that the other person seems very comfortable with eye contact, and you’re equally comfortable, then rapport will soon become very evident.

An interesting aspect to the social media revolution is the lack of human connection that young people are creating in their lives, preferring instead to ‘connect’ by texting, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and so on.  Be aware of this because, though it’s questionable, if these same people are potential clients they need to see you as someone aligned with their own choice of communication style in order that rapport may be forged.  However, the downside is that you may be viewed as unprofessional and therefore there’s a disconnection that takes place.

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