Keen to improve customer retention? Check out these critical skills your team need to make it happen

Keen to improve customer retention? Check out these critical skills your team need to make it happen

A key aspect of running a business is having the right strategy for winning and KEEPING your customers, right?

Customer demands change all the time, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that!

If your customer needs are changing continuously then you need your team to have the ability to adapt quickly. If your team fall behind or get complacent, a competitor may swoop in as the hero and steal your best clients right from under your nose.

It can be hard to develop and retain a high performing team that nurture your customers in just the right way. It’s one of the hundreds of considerations you continuously need to have as a Business Leader. There’s just so much to think about!

At POD HR & Training, we like to carry the weight for our clients and take the pressure off, helping to up-skill their team so they reach their maximum potential. We do this by not only looking at their skill-sets, but also by teaching them mind-management techniques.

Great customer relationships are driven by connection, which means you need your team in a good frame of mind to put your customers in a buying frame of mind.

We love this work so much, so we wanted to bring to your attention some vital must-haves when it comes to your team’s skills and attributes if you want success.

If you don’t have these ingredients, you’re missing masses of profit potential! In fact, in operational, customer facing, or telephone based environments these are deal breakers.

Customer shaking hands with a sales person

1. Rapport building

I know, I know. This is obvious. Rapport is everything in sales and business.

However you may be surprised to hear about how many companies I help that THINK they have this nailed and yet are completely unaware of how much MORE they can improve.

I don’t doubt that your team are already great with people (why else would you hire them?!) but this doesn’t necessarily mean they have great rapport skills. In my experience, being a people person is great when everything is plain sailing, but as soon as the tide gets rough they lack the fundamental skills to hold steady on their course.

So, what’s rapport and why is it different to just being a good conversationalist?

In essence, rapport is ‘when people are like each other, they like each other’.

This means your team need the flexibility to adapt themselves to anyone and everyone. One rule will never fit all.

During NLP training, we always start our courses with rapport building. Being capable of quickly building rapport with someone can have a significant impact on how someone thinks and feels with rapport.

Prior to my NLP journey I was in exactly the same situation. I thought I was amazing at rapport, and to a degree I was pretty capable at getting into rapport with people! However, now I’m a Master Practitioner of NLP I know I was missing some key elements that could of won me far more business!

Rapport is so important I’ve actually written a whole article about it and the steps to establishing an advanced level of rapport, so make sure you have a look at it here.

Team member taking payment at a shop till

2. Influential language

The words that your team use with your customers, and more importantly the WAY they say them, makes or breaks their success.

Certain phrases and ways of expressing language holds deeper meaning and influence to our minds. In order to be memorable, our communication needs to reach the deeper mind (which you may know as the subconscious). That’s what will make your team stand out from your competitors. When you team can speak the language of your clients, and therefore their subconscious, more of what you say will be accepted and trusted.

One of the best NLP tools for sales is The Milton Model. These are several language patterns which appeal to our deeper minds.

An example of this would be ‘cause and effect’.

Which one of these do you think is more influential:

“You’re increasing your awareness of how to get the best out of your team”


“Because you’ve decided to read this article, you’re increasing your awareness of how to get the best out of your team”?

It’s subtle, but the word because is extremely powerful in this cause and effect statement. If your customer facing teams can use this in the right way, they’ll be more believable and far more influential.

It’s so simple, but you’d be surprised how powerful it is.

If you listen to what’s around you in life, you’ll start to notice how many people try and tell others information and just expect them to listen and do what they ask without offering a reason why.

If you tell someone, “It’s better to do this like that” their mind will put up defenses. There’s no answer to WHY it’s better to do it that way.

Our minds crave justification for doing things a certain way, so by adding the ‘because’ it sounds far more powerful. Just a simple, “because it will save you time”, is enough.

This is just one example of a language pattern in The Milton Model. There’s also complex equivalence and mind reads, as well as a few others that could be of use.

Our bespoke training packages on the Power of Language provide sales and customer service teams with everything they need to seduce customers with words that directly appeal to their needs. Not only will they win the clients in the first sales meeting, but they’ll learn to develop a life-long relationship so you win your clients for life.

There are other NLP courses that can teach you similar principles, so we’re not the only provider if you choose to go elsewhere.

If you’d like to learn some tips you can share with your customer service team or sales team, you can check out our article on how set you apart from the competition here…

Sales executive talking to a customer and building rapport

3. Avoid poisonous language

Just as there are certain words that really help, there are some words that really hinder you and are destroying your customer relationships bit by bit.

So, what word is destroying your credibility?

It’s simple: BUT.

Have you experienced this as a customer? You’re trying to get your point across and ask them about their services and you get this:

“I understand what you’re saying, Sir, BUT we don’t have any record of that.”

All that sentence does is build up positive empathy and completely eradicates it with the use of the BUT. It’s kind of like saying “I do, but I don’t”.

It may sound stupid to say one word can affect how a customer sees you, but it can be the reason they go with your competitor.

If you can remove this destructive word from your teams vocabulary in this sort of context, your customer relationships WILL improve. I guarantee it.

Your customers want support, not resistance. That word is a big red flag.

Another two words you need to avoid are “Should” and “Must”.

I can almost feel your confusion. How could you possibly remove those words? They imply authority, right?


All your customers will hear is your team member pointing their finger and bossing them around.

They don’t cultivate an enjoyable relationship, because customers like to be heard and consulted with. They don’t want to be told.

Even without booking any training for your team you should start listening to their use of language and give them small hints and tips where they can improve.

Sales team executive talking to a customer over the phone

I’ve only picked 3 critical areas to talk about in this article but the truth is, there’s a HUGE list I haven’t spoken about. However, given this is an article and not a book, I’ve got to keep it brief! If you want to find out more about other language techniques you can read up on our sensory language techniques here (Why are Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques so powerful in business?)

Another key aspect of smashing your customer strategy is the tonality. In other words, the way your team say the words. There’s an NLP Technique called embedded commands which makes your message extremely powerful because the changes in sound appeals to the subconscious. You can find out more about that in our article about making sure your message is heard here.

If you’d like to speak to us about our Powerful Language Training days, email me to arrange a quick consultation chat at natalie@podhr.co.uk. Usually these calls will take about 30 minutes and are completely free with no obligation to book!

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