The Better Business Bureau is one of my go-to places when researching a product or service company I’m considering purchasing from. This is a common practice among consumers-in-the-know, who don’t want to chance being led astray by a business with poor or zero scruples. A great Better Business Bureau ranking can make all the difference in the world, especially for SMEs who’re struggling to make their way in the marketplace.
Just because your “about” page and social profiles look good doesn’t mean you handle sticky situations with professionalism. And, just because you put a smile on for each new person who saunters through the front door doesn’t mean you’ll treat them that way when when they come back with a problem — serial killer Ted Bundy was well-known for being kind and affable, until he got people alone with him!
Having no rating at all can be just as bad as having a poor one. It only takes a moment to register once you’ve met all the criteria, and they’ll send you notifications when both complaints and praise are bestowed on your business. The organization did fall under some scrutiny a few years back, having been outed for giving better ratings to businesses who “donated” to the cause, but that practice has since been nixed.
Here’s some great tips for improving your Better Business Bureau ranking:
1. If you’re not a member, sign up.
It won’t necessarily be easy, but it’s not that difficult either. Check out BBB.org and you can get started on their checklist right away. It takes a while, but shows the organization that you have nothing to hide and actually want to be on the end of their radar — the positive end, that is! You need to have been in business for a year or more. Once you’ve got that accreditation, you can post it on your website, in your store, and on all your marketing materials.
2. Stick to the Better Business Bureau’s code of trust.
Basically, just avoid being dishonest in your advertising and in how you do business. Don’t screw people over or mislead them (this includes even the unintentional). The BBB has a set of trust standards that are pretty easy to follow:
- Build Trust
- Advertise Honestly
- Tell the Truth
- Be Transparent
- Honor Promises
- Be Responsive
- Embody Integrity
3. Embrace BBB complaints and deal with them fairly and objectively.
How often does a consumer complaint slip through the cracks because it came to a front line employee first, and you or management never got the opportunity to address it? This scenario happens far too often. Consider that complaints made to the BBB give you a great opportunity to see exactly what a jilted customer said, and the issue that led them to complain about you — completely unedited. Don’t screw up the opportunity to do better when this opportunity presents itself.
4. Constantly work to improve your business based on BBB rankings and feedback.
Complaints happen. Sometimes they’re not honest complaints either. But, how you deal with them can help or hurt your Better Business Bureau rankings, and also help you fix problems with your products, policies, and staff. BBB complaints fall within categories
such as honesty in advertising, billing and collection, delivery issues, warranty issues, or problems with a particular product or service. When BBB complaints arise, this isn’t a bad thing, because you get the chance to view your business through a customer’s eyes instead of your own narrow minded vision. You can’t fix everything, but if honesty and ethical issues are brought to light, it’s time to smarten up and throw stubbornness out the window.
5. Respond to complaints and go out of your way to resolve them.
Better Business Bureau rankings exist for the customer, not for you. Despite what I’ve been saying about how valuable feedback from the BBB is, they’re there to protect consumers from businesses who like to sell things, then turn incommunicado at the first sign of consumer distress. When you receive a complaint, you’ll be asked by the BBB to respond to it within 14 days. After that, another request will be sent out giving you an additional 14 days. Don’t mess this up, as failure to respond will negatively impact your score and the fact that you didn’t answer will be prominently noted on your profile. Imagine what customers think when they see this, especially if you sell expensive or otherwise risky products or services that may require warranty work or the customer being forced to ask you to honor a satisfaction or money-back guarantee.
If you haven’t got it already, what’s holding you back?
Getting a BBB accreditation may take time, but it’s time well spent when you can proudly post that recognition on your site, in your business, and in all your promotional materials. Best, an isolated incident or two won’t destroy your business, complaints expire every three years.
Main Image Credit: Smash!/Flickr