First impressions are important, yes. But in business, image is everything and how you are perceived plays a vital role in your success. Although what you do to present yourself and your business is important, it is ultimately your customers and those your business comes in contact with who will do most of the work creating your reputation.

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Hebi65

Image courtesy of Pixabay and Hebi65

Your response to their voice is the best way for you to help your business maintain a good image and reputation.

Here are a few questions to help you maneuver your way through your online reputation maintenance:

1.Where do you show up?
Search your name and business on review sites regularly to see what is being said. Even if you haven’t created a profile, you may still be receiving feedback. Being unaware of what is being said is dangerous to you and your business’ image; an appropriate response to a review can help you recover dissatisfied customers, show others who may see the feedback that you are an engaged and interested business owner, and will ultimately protect your business’ image.

And remember, what you are providing on your website or online profiles may not be what consumers need to have confidence in doing business with you. Filtering the negative and only providing positive may have a negative affect on how others perceive you. Consumers want to see how you handle issues and opposing reviews. Let them see it. Show them what kind of a business owner you are.

2.How will you search out feedback?
For some businesses, it may be more difficult to get people to give you feedback. This just means you may need to get a little creative and thinking of ways to get feedback in ways that will work with your clients. What would work for your customers? A phone survey? An email questionnaire? Giving your customers an incentive works well, too; not only will you get their feedback, but you’ll also keep a repeat client.

3.What will you do with feedback?
Create a system – even a simple one – of what you will do with incoming feedback. Be ready to deal with incoming suggestions, comments, and reviews from all the ways you may receive them. Not everything said is something you need to listen to take to heart, so have a filtration system. Negative feedback from a longtime customer is invaluable and something worth harvesting and learning from. And although a first-time client may not have the length of experience working with you, all feedback is valuable. Even if it’s something you don’t think needs fixing take the opportunity to reevaluate and decide on making necessary changes.

4.How will you adjust?
Being prompt about responding to customer’s complaints will go a long way in proving that you really do care about what your customers have to say. Even if it’s a problem you can’t fix immediately, acknowledging the issue and letting them know when you have made a change will still help. Giving an apology or simple sympathy for the experience they had and offering to make it right will go a long way in preserving your reputation, even if the issue is never able to be resolved on their end. Customer service follow through will prove your integrity as a business owner and may just be what another potential customer is looking for.

Also, be quick to thank customers for reviews. People are far more likely to complain than they are to compliment, so when someone takes the time to express their thanks for the way you do business, it’s important for you to remember to return the favor and thank them for supporting your business.

While you will not always be able to control what people think of your business, you can influence their view of you by how you listen and respond to feedback.

© 2011 Propel Businessworks (SET) – All rights reserved.

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