Meeting a new client for the first time can be challenging; especially when they have a reputation for being difficult.


What is the best way to establish a positive relationship with a demanding client who doesn’t always get along with others? 

What do you do? How do you build a good rapport?


Each situation is different, but there are many ways to build excellent rapport with customers and almost anyone you come across.

Research. First, know who you are talking to. Do as much research about the individual and/or customer as you can prior to meeting them. Discover their hot button issues and pain points, their likes, dislikes, and hobbies. Any knowledge or common ground you can establish will help you relate/understand and develop a solution that better meets their goals.

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Memorize Names. Often when dealing with a customer, you interact with more than one person. Make it a point to memorize their names. Using their names in conversation will show that you took the time to listen. They aren’t just another customer and their needs are important.

Empathize. We can say that we empathize with the customer, but have you really put yourself in their shoes? Feel their joys and pains; relate to them on a deeper level. If you are genuine, it will show.

Reset and Relate. Each time you meet, take 2-3 minutes to let them blow off steam or share excitement from a previous meeting. Let them control the direction of this time to see how they are doing; gauge their mindset, mood, and body posture. Reset the anxiety level and they will feel relaxed around you.

Positive Vibes. Everyone is always happy, right? NOT! Sometimes we need to choose to be the positive energy in a world/workplace full of obligations. If you choose to be happy, others will want to be around you and, in turn, you will feel better too. Optimistic drive and constructive solutions will make you their “go-to” person.

Build Trust. Everyone is given the benefit of the doubt when they first meet. Trust should be consciously cultivated. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you say you will call on Thursday at 3:00pm, DO IT! Let them know that they can depend on you. If you cannot be trusted with the small things, you definitely will not be considered with the larger things. Sometimes this comes in the form of being a vault. If they know you will keep confidential items confidential, they will let you into a tighter circle.

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Be Honest. As children we are taught to always tell the truth. As we became older, it becomes easier to tell a half-truth to avoid of trouble. Customers want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly – but be prepared to provide recommendations to the bad and the ugly.

Herd Mentality. Generally speaking, people act the same way as others in their position – following a standard. Subconsciously, we may consider what decision someone else in our position would make; would they pick solution A or B? How would a director manage that? While we should be mindful of processes, procedures, and roles; herd mentality can be a slippery slope. Don’t just follow the crowd. Make recommendations based on personal/customer knowledge to aid the customer decision making process.

Establishing excellent customer rapport is a conscience decision; one we could all use a reminder to work on from time to time (self-included).

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