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Making a Connection

Filed under Corporate, Hospitality, Service Culture

Making a Connection

The best kind of service you can offer your customer is one that is based on making a connection. Sales executives will tell you that sales is 98% rapport and 2% product and sales. Here’s what I do when I want to make a connection.

  • Eye contact. I’ve stated this before, and I can’t reiterate it enough. We need strong eye contact in our interactions with our customers and clients. If we seem distracted or preoccupied, then we come across as less trustworthy. I should make a disclaimer. While eye contact is crucial in our culture, there are cultures out there in which making eye contact is not the best way to communicate. In parts of South Asia, for example, men and women should not make eye contact with one another, as this has a different connotation than it does here. However, as a general rule I’d argue that we need more eye contact.
  • Listening. You can be a slick talker, with a great vocabulary and a poetic way of speaking. But if you don’t know how to listen, your smooth-talking is useless. Learn how to listen. Practice listening. Pay close attention to your client’s body language and his or her words. Once you know where they’re coming from, you can make better decisions about how to say what you need to say.
  • Input. I’ve recently been reading Tina Fey’s new book Bossypants. It’s hilarious and surprisingly insightful. One excellent point she makes is that you should always add something to a conversation. Asking questions is important, but you shouldn’t only ask questions. She gives the example of improvisation–the acting style where two or more actors make up a scene in the spur of the moment. She says one of the biggest rules of improv is saying “yes, AND.” This is true in all business settings as well. We can say yes to our clients, and add an and. “May I have a glass of water?” — “Yes, and would you like lemon with that?” Add something of your own, to let the customer know that you don’t expect them to do all the work.
  • Sharing. Don’t be afraid to share a little something about yourself, without overdoing it. Does your client have a photograph of their children displayed prominently on their desk? It can’t hurt to mention your children, too. Connect with the client on a human-to-human level, not just on a business level.

What do you do to connect with your customers and clients? Please, take the time to share with us!

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