I remember sometime back, I had a conference call with some guys in New Zealand, it was the time when some interesting cricket match going on between India and Australia. And I was asking them about what they thought, and it sparked out with a small snippet of conversation, and this guy was remarking how it always pleased him if Tendulkar made century against Australia. And it did make rest of the conversation little lighter. Atleast it always ensures that the customer will not shout at you. Somehow it lightens up the whole thing.
Nothing works better than trying to find some hook, with which you can connect and relate to the customer. I really think it goes a long way in building relationships. Most importantly it makes the conversation more interesting.
I dont know how it works for other relationships, but trust me it definately works for marketing.
So go and find the hook... :)