Paraphrase to Build Customer Rapport

There are two ways to paraphrase, says Dianne M. Durkin, a trainer and consultant. One is to listen for and repeat a customer’s key words and phrases. “We all have key words and phrases that we use on a regular basis,” says Durkin. “Listen for these and use them when you respond to a customer’s inquiry or problem. Using the customer’s own language really gets their attention and helps you build instant rapport.” In fact, she adds, “it will work just as well in your conversations with managers and coworkers.”

The second paraphrasing technique that Durkin recommends is what she calls the “checkpoint summary.” This involves listening carefully, and taking notes if necessary, to make sure that you really understand the customer’s problem or issue. “At the end of every customer conversation, you should say, ‘Let me just repeat to you what I understand to be the problem,’ and then paraphrase the issue as you understand it. That just clarifies the whole conversation and ensures that everyone is on the same page,” Durkin says.

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