3 Steps to Building Rapport with Clients in a Hybrid Work Environment
Recently, the workforce has undergone a series of transitions. COVID-19 has forced companies to quickly adopt a digital transformation within their organizations and people workforce. Even in industries that formerly prohibited working remotely, working from the comfort of ones home seemingly became the norm overnight. With the release of the COVID-19 vaccine, many companies adopted a hybrid working solution, allowing employees to both work from home, while also choosing an in office environment as well. In this new day and age, companies now have a host of difficult challenges to over come, with relationship building at the core of them all. Healthy relationships sit at the center of everything we do, so it left me wondering… in this dynamic environment, how do we continue to connect and build relationships with our clients? Well, you’re in luck! Check out theses 3 ways you can build rapport with your clients virtually and in person.
Why Is It Important to Build Rapport?
Rapport is a relationship in which the people or groups involved are “in sync” with each other, understand each other’s feelings or ideas, and communicate smoothly. In other words, when people or teams get to know and like one another, they become friendly and open with fostering a more collaborative work experience.
How Does One Build Better Rapport?
Rapport building takes time, commitment, and dedication. The most successful way to build rapport is to start off by focusing on all 3 key fundamental areas; active listening, intentional relationship building, and consistent delivery. These are the things that people talk about the most when describing a great experience with Strive and their own internal organizational needs.
1. Listen to your clients and stakeholders
One of the most valuable and underrated methods to building rapport and relationships with a client is listening. It is easier said than done, but with practice can be one of the most successful tools in your toolbox. During client discussions and one-on-ones, ensure that you are practicing the 3 components of active listening (comprehend, retain, respond). In a remote environment, we are unable to rely on body language, so try focusing on not only what the client is saying, but how they are saying it. This should give us an understanding of what they are trying to convey. Retain the key points and the emotions the client is trying to express. Reiterating what they stated in a clear and concise manner, while avoiding overuse of jargon is key. Listening to our clients ensures that they feel understood and heard.
2. Create space for relationships
In this hybrid and dynamic work environment, it is easier than ever to lose sight of relationship building that naturally would occur sitting in a conference room or chatting at a coffee machine. Now to build relationships, we need to be intentional. Most experts agree that 70 to 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal 1. Luckily, with the shift to a more hybrid environment, we can now safely meet in person, as well as utilize other digital mediums. Maximize this opportunity to host a happy hour, lunch, or quick coffee in a responsible and safe manner, such as on an open restaurant patio. The change of scenery can foster a change in conversation and create a shared experience that will translate into smoother communication in the digital space. Alternatively, set aside time at the beginning of a meeting or throughout your day to connect with your clients or peers. This can be a quick “ping” or “slack” message asking them about their weekend, seeing if they need help on a task, or talking about a favorite sports team event. We can, and should, utilize all these tools to support rapport building. A client who feels a deeper connection to you is likely to be more collaborative.
3. Deliver results
While this may seem straight forward, it tends to be overlooked. The ability to deliver impressive results is often what separates successful consulting companies from the others. Delivering results is, after all, what we are hired to do. If you are successful in 1 and 2 above, delivery should be straightforward. You will have a list of key objectives, pain points, and deliverables the client not only expects, but you can build on. Alternatively, listening and relationship building become moot points if you or your team is not delivering or following through on commitments, contractually or otherwise. Continual delivery and follow-through will ensure a client is satisfied.
Although the future of traditional small and large business models is still unknown, understanding the fundamentals in successful relationship building is key in making sure we’re prepared for whatever life throws at us. Active listening and creating the space needed to foster genuine relationships, all while continuing to deliver your best results, will set you and your organization up to be the best of the very best.
Interested in learning more about how Strive put’s their clients first?
Here at Strive Consulting, we foster an active, innovative culture, providing the coaching, mentoring, and support our employees and clients need to work at the top of their game and succeed, personally and professionally. Understanding that the corporate world has changed and been challenging on all parties involved in the workplace, Strive is here to provide guidance and assist in any way we can. Strive Consulting is dedicated to being your partner, committed to success.