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What sets the BBB apart in a sea of online review sites?

November 27, 2018

We live in a world where consumers can air out their frustrations with a business on so many different platforms; it can be nearly impossible for a business owner to keep up with the threads of reviews and complaints. There’s a number of review sites, such as Google and Facebook and, don’t forget, there’s the Better Business Bureau website.

BBB was established in 1912 — way before the days of social media — and our process for complaint and review handling has come along way. But in a sea of online review platforms, it’s easy for business owners to become overwhelmed.

First, it’s important to note what BBB does. BBB is much more than a complaint portal, though it is important to what we do. Vetting and resolving complaints helps to serve our core mission, which is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. How do we advance this? We have several tenants that we abide by to help with this cause, one of which is calling out and addressing substandard marketplace behavior if and when we notice a pattern of complaints.

Beyond this, BBB is here to celebrate best practices in the marketplace by featuring exemplary accredited businesses on our social media platforms. Accredited businesses have agreed to uphold BBB’s Standards of Trust, and have undergone vetting that includes checking licensing, which supports our overall mission. We also work closely with community organizations and media outlets to help educate consumers and business owners on scams, how to avoid fraudulent activities, and how to improve business development practices.

Perhaps the function BBB is best known for, however, is our rating system. Businesses are assigned a grade on a scale of A+ to F. We look to see if businesses are meeting our standards based on certain rating elements we identify. This includes vetting a company’s advertising truthfulness, ensuring proper licensing, looking for transparent business practices, and, of course, tracking a business’s complaint history.

This brings us back to how BBB handles complaints. What sets us apart?

When a consumer makes a complaint against a business on BBB, that complaint does not automatically lower the business’s rating. BBB takes into account how that business is responding to the complaint, how long it takes for the business to respond or take action, and if the business makes a good faith effort to resolve the complaint. We give business owners the tools to make it right with their customers and remain in good standing.

This same process applies to accredited businesses and non-accredited businesses because accredited businesses cannot pay for their rating. A business that is accredited and racks up numerous complaints without resolve faces revocation and is just as likely to get a lowered rating as their non-accredited neighbor.

Finally, it is worth pointing out how we verify incoming customer reviews, whether positive or negative. First, when we receive a review, we send an email back to the reviewer to verify the email address and person is real. If we never receive that validation, we don’t post the review. If we do, we then give the business a chance to verify that customer and comment. If the business gets back to us within 10 days, we will post the review as “BBB Verified.” If the business does not get back to us, BBB will still post the review, but not as “BBB Verified,” which is key to maintaining transparency with our consumers.

In today’s digital era, many websites offer a platform for complaining, but not the solution. BBB wants to improve marketplace trust, which is why we try to connect the consumer with the business owner to remedy the problem(s). This gives consumers the chance to feel heard, while giving business owners the opportunity to advance their brand image, improve customer relations and keep a positive rating intact.

Jeremy Johnson is the Eastern Idaho Marketplace Manager for the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific. Contact the BBB at 208-342-4649 or email to info@thebbb.org.

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