The digital age is more disconnected than ever. You’re more likely to meet a customer over the phone, email, or a video call than in person. And customers are too often reaching chatbots, phone trees, and robots—or maybe nobody at all. This makes personal connections more important, and more difficult, than ever.
A personal connection is a genuine one, beyond surface-level talk, that conveys a level of care and interest between two (or more) people. It’s a bond and it matters a lot in business. It is this personal connection that fosters trust, increases client satisfaction and retention, and improves your employees’ experiences. Customers who feel connected to a business are more likely to forgive mistakes, work through challenges, and recommend your business to their friends.
But how do you connect with customers when you can’t look them in the eye and shake their hand? Without body language, you can only rely on what you say and how you say it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t develop connections.
How to Connect with Customers
1. Be Available
This may seem obvious but the first step to developing customer connections is to be available where they need you, when they need you. That doesn’t just mean having the answers available, buried in some help docs somewhere. It means providing your customers with a real, easy avenue to talk to your business.
It should be clear when your team is available and how customers can reach you. Preferably you’d provide options—a business phone number, email, and website chat. This is something big businesses often do wrong when it comes to their customer service. They’ll provide you with extensive docs, links, and forums, but no way to contact them. And they can afford to do this because losing a customer isn’t a big deal to them, they have thousands. But losing a customer is a big deal for you. Don’t bury your support, give it to your customers willingly and they’ll thank you for it.
On the back end, you want someone to be there to answer your incoming communications! Whether that is an in-house receptionist, a virtual receptionist team like Abby, or you (though we don’t always recommend you answer your own phone), someone has to be ready to answer your customer’s calls.
2. Make it Personal
Personal connections are, well, personal. While this may be a business phone call, it’s important to make it clear to your customers that you care about their individual experience. Ask your caller how they’re doing and really listen to their answer. Take a moment to get oriented before getting into business.
Here are some easy examples of ways you can connect with your customers quickly and easily:
“How’s your day going so far?”
“It’s been a while since we’ve seen you! I hope things have been going well since your last appointment.”
It doesn’t have to be complicated, you just want to spark a conversation! And when you respond to what they say, avoid generic answers that end the conversation. Instead, respond directly to what they said so you can kick off a conversation. If they gave a generic answer, go with something with more oomph than “great” like “fantastic” or “that sounds amazing!”
Remember, a personal connection is just a bond between two people, with your business somewhere in the middle. It’s an opportunity to bring a little human back into your business and win loyalty all at the same time.
Avoid distractions. Give your customer your full attention for the duration of the call. Throughout the conversation verbally confirm that you’re listening with phrases like “Just to confirm…” and “I absolutely understand!” Since your customer can’t see you (unless it’s a video call) you want to make sure to indicate to them regularly that you’re listening.
When they’re done explaining the reason for the call, and if it makes sense, summarize it back to them so they know you understand. Let them explain their reason for calling or the problem they want to solve before you jump into problem-solving mode. Even if you have an answer ready, it’s important that they feel heard.
4. Offer Praise or Support
Everybody loves compliments and support—and there’s nothing that does more for developing customer connections. Compliment them on details about themselves they’ve shared like their weekend plans, name, taste, etc.
If they’re angry or frustrated, empathize with them. Tell them you understand and you care about addressing their issue. Let them know that you care about their experience.
Here are a couple of examples of how you can use praise or support to connect with your customers:
“What a great name! My aunt/friend/daughter also has that name…”
“I actually use that same product; I absolutely love it. Let’s figure out how to make sure it gets to you on time.”
“I would also be frustrated if that happened to me.”
“I’ve actually had a similar experience and I understand how frustrating it is. Let’s get this fixed and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
5. Follow Up
The end of the phone call doesn’t have to be the end of your connection with the customer. In fact, building personal connections with customers and winning over their loyalty is a long game. It isn’t done in a single conversation. Here are a few ways you can build that personal connection through your follow-up.
- Email them a summary of your conversation and any actions you’ve taken. Include that it was nice to meet or talk to them!
- Provide them with a direct line to you (if you’re able) via phone or email. It’s easier to build connections between people, with the business in the middle, than between a customer and an entire customer service organization.
- If there are next steps, provide them.
- Send a thank you note if it makes sense!
How Abby Connect Can Help You Connect with Customers
At Abby Connect we’re customer service experts—from our receptionists to our CS team and everywhere in between. We believe in the power of personal connections.
We’re especially skilled at steps 1 and 2—helping your business be available and make connections. Our live virtual receptionists will answer your calls and chats, filter out the calls you don’t want, forward, take messages, schedule appointments, and more. And our customers get dedicated teams of 5-10 receptionists because we practice what we preach. We help you build relationships with your customers while we build personal connections between Abby and your business. That way, when we answer the phone for you, we’ll sound like we’re sitting in your office.