We all know that building a great rapport with clients is the key to retaining them, elemental to successfully running an MSP. In most cases, that’s easier said than done.

Building relationships is easy to theorize but can be difficult to achieve. But, as long as your clients find you trustworthy and genuinely concerned about their business goals, you can set yourself up for success in the highly personalized MSP space. Need advice? Here are some rapport-building tactics that have worked well with our clients.

1. Share their priorities

Rapport is all about finding common ground and being on the same wavelength as somebody else. In order to share their priorities, actively listen to what your client has to say and look for shared experiences. This will give you more to talk about in the initial stages of communication.

Identify the places where their business and your business have commonalities. Demonstrate that you’re interested in their business priorities. Find out what they are concerned about on a daily basis—the “what keeps you up at night” topics—and then ideate what you can do to help them meet their needs.

2. Facilitate two-way communication

Before setting the agenda for a meeting with the client, internally review your recommendations for relieving their biggest pain points. After a candid review, you must finish each Quarterly Business Meeting with these must-have recommendations. Also, never forget to prepare a long-term strategy that focuses on improving their operational efficiencies. This will make them feel valued.

Each meeting is an opportunity to understand everyone’s stake in the conversation. Little things like putting them in touch with maintenance issues they may face in the future can make a big difference to your relationship with the client.

3. Sharpen your ‘People Skills’

If you are in MSP space, you are not going to meet your client every day. This is where brushing up on your people skills during telephone or video calls comes in handy. When a client voices his or her issue, it is important to articulate that their concern is understood.

Learn to unhook after a tough call. Leave the last call behind and start afresh. Sometimes, a simple, genuine apology at the appropriate time can defuse a difficult client and break down the barriers to building rapport. You can always use your personal experiences to build a connection with a client.

4. Be empathetic and polite

Showing empathy is a crucial part of building rapport. If the client has just explained a frustrating problem, begin a response with a short, direct statement of intent. Saying something like “I realize that this situation is difficult, but let’s get this problem sorted for you…” will reassure the client that a dedicated engineer is taking ownership of the problem. This approach allows you to communicate a sense of action, turning a negative into a positive.

Focus on fine-tuning your emotional intelligence to become more empathetic and understanding.

5. Offer Incentives

Reward your clients when they refer business your way. Offer them discounts or credits each time you win business from their referrals. Sending them a congratulatory note on a company milestone and offering them a discount on special occasions are easy ways to make your clients feel special.

6. Value their opinion

It’s not enough to feel positive about your client; you must show it in your actions. Allow clients to suggest ideas and weigh in on new services that you may consider offering. As we all know, client feedback is crucial. One way to monitor the rapport between you and your client is to gather feedback regularly with tools.

7. Stick to your words

Trust builds rapport. And, to build that trust, you must keep your commitments and always follow through. Be careful not to make promises you might not be able to fulfill. Staying true to your commitment will set you apart from other players in the MSP space.

Final Thought: Maintaining rapport with clients is an ongoing process. Sharing your clients’ business values and investing time to create mutual trust is a great place to start.