Clientbook Blog
March 7, 2023

Best practices for building rapport with your retail clients

Before COVID hit, shopping with retailers had been thought of by many as an enjoyable, stress-relieving experience—a safe space to forget your cares. However, in the aftermath of the pandemic, studies are showing that today's consumers are finding their in-store shopping experience to be far less glamorous than it used to be. 

In a Theatro study conducted right after last year's holiday shopping season, 40% of U.S. consumers reported that shopping at physical stores is less enjoyable than it used to be before the pandemic. The majority of survey respondents listed "poorly trained or prepared retail staff" as the reason for this, with the next highest reason being "inadequate staffing levels."

With so many of today's shoppers fed up with retailers, there's no better time to train your sales professionals to focus on building trust and client rapport with each potential customer who comes into your store. 

In this article, we'll cover why building relationships with clients is important and offer best practices on how you can build rapport with your clients over time. 

Why should retailers focus on building relationships with clients? 

The main goal of any retail business is to earn money. So why should your sales team spend time building rapport with clients when there are deals to close and products to sell?

While it may seem counterintuitive, the more your associates focus on building strong relationships with clients—and less on pushing a product—the more likely a client is to buy, and the more money they'll actually spend.

A PwC report found that U.S. consumers are willing to pay up to 16% more for a product or service if the business offers a great customer experience. What's more, a Harvard Business Review study found that customers who trust a brand are 88% more likely to become a repeat customer.

When there's mutual trust between your sales professionals and your clients, they'll be transported back to the days before COVID when shopping was a fun and exciting experience. That sense of trust will create a meaningful connection to your store for your clients that will keep them coming back for more. 

In short, taking the time to foster good rapport with clients can lead to repeat business, word-of-mouth referrals, and customer loyalty.

How to build rapport with clients 

Now that we've established that building relationships with customers is the key to success for any retailer, let's go over some best practices and examples of rapport building with your retail clients.

Establish your expertise to earn their trust  

The foundation of rapport is trust, and the best way to earn it from a client is by establishing yourself as an expert on your products and industry.

For example, if you own a furniture store, you could share with clients which interior decorating styles are popular today and showcase how to pair pieces to create that look. By doing this, you'll elevate your brand and position your store as the place to find the experts your clients need. 

That's why training your sales team with everything they need to know about your products is an important step for setting them up for success. Training them with effective communication tips on how they can best speak to the product and its advantages is key to establishing trust right from the beginning. 

Personalize every client interaction 

Next, today's shoppers want personalized experiences. In Twilio Segment's State of Personalization Study, 49% of consumers surveyed said they're likely to become a repeat buyer after a personalized shopping experience with a retailer.

This starts with your retail associates getting to know your client. Have them ask open-ended questions about their likes and dislikes. Train them on active listening so your clients feel heard and understood. By doing this, your team will learn more about what clients like best so they can make a personalized offer. 

The next time that client comes into your store, your associate should know their name, who they're shopping for, and exactly where to lead them with products and styles they'd like best. 

Hire sales associates with strong interpersonal skills

Another way to simplify the process of building strong rapport with your clients is to hire sales associates who have natural social skills. If building social connections doesn't come easily to someone, it's going to be very difficult for them to engage with your clients in a meaningful way.

When hiring a sales associate, look for someone who doesn't shy away from making conversation. You can usually pick out this trait in an interview from their tone of voice or facial expressions and how comfortable they are engaging with you. 

When your sales associate is comfortable asking thoughtful questions and connecting with clients on a personal level, they'll set your clients at ease and build long-lasting relationships that turn into repeat business. 

Make the most of retail technology 

Finally, remember that you don't have to go about all of this on your own. There are great retail technology tools designed for business owners like you that want to build meaningful relationships with their clients. 

Client management software can be a great resource for retailers ready to better manage their client relationships. If you're currently using manual spreadsheets and Rolodexes to keep track of your client information, using software will help you keep your information all in one place. 

Better yet, tools like Clientbook can give you automated reminders so you never forget to follow up with a key client or miss an important date in their life. 

Conclusion

When we're all living in the aftermath of a pandemic full of labor shortages and an uncertain economic climate, it's no wonder that today's consumers are wary of trusting businesses to treat them well. But by following the tips in this article—and taking advantage of smart tools like Clientbook—you can exceed their expectations and earn loyal customers who will keep coming back to your store. 

If you're ready to see how Clientbook can help you build strong rapport with your clients, book a demo today.

Continue reading

What is predictive AI?

Eight ways to master your customer follow-up