The continuing relevance of the Better Business Bureau is an issue that usually sparks a lot of controversy. Supporters argue that the Web incarnation of the BBB provides searchable, current information on many businesses, and that the BBB still serves as a resource for finding trustworthy, reliable businesses. Detractors say that the BBB model is no longer relevant — that reviews and other reputation information available on the Web through search engines are more detailed, useful, and timely than anything provided by the BBB.
There is probably some truth on both sides. There isn’t much reputation information available from the BBB online, just a description of the business and principals, the number of complaints processed and the number resolved. You’re not told what the facts of each complaint were, and you don’t know how the issues were resolved. My personal experiences with some BBB-approved businesses were less than satisfactory. These businesses were not outright crooks, but customer service never seemed to be high on their priority lists. Consumers looking for information about a business will often find much more and better reputation information, including the specifics of complaints, on the Web at various review sites like Angie’s List, Trip Advisor, Insiderpages, Rust Reviews, Yahoo Local, and Yelp.
The one area where the BBB still excels is in the resolution of consumer complaints. A consumer can take a complaint to the BBB, whether the offending business is a BBB member or not. Again from personal experience, the one time I complained to the BBB, I got swift action from the company and a quick and fair resolution to my complaint. This is after I had tried to work unsuccessfully with the company’s customer service department.
Since the BBB doesn’t make any money from handling customer complaints, the organization will have to adapt its business model to better compete with the many forms of social media providing reputation information to consumers. Since surveys have shown that most consumers find peer reviews more credible than ratings from organizations, the BBB has its work cut out for it.
If you have any questions about managing your online reputation or improving your Internet marketing with better reputation management, please call me at 979-531-8300. You can also use the Contact form to send me an email.
- BBB Reveals America’s Most Complained-About Businesses (dailyfinance.com)
- Auto Insurance Company Analysis (articles.onlineautoinsurance.com)
- 100th Year Anniversary of the BBB (businesspundit.com)
- BBB Issues Phishing Scam Warning (denver.cbslocal.com)
- Scam alert: E-mail claiming to be from BBB is a fraud (seattlepi.com)