The Internet is full of information about virtually every product and service imaginable. While this is a benefit for consumers – everything necessary to make a purchase decision is effectively a few clicks away – the opposite can be true for businesses. With so much data to consider about countless companies, how can your brand possibly get ahead?
For most small businesses, finding a way to establish a foothold in a competitive market isn't easy. The current recommendations for search engine optimization and digital marketing are vast, and with so many different avenues to follow, choosing the right direction from the start is easier said than done.
Regardless of which path you choose for your marketing, one of the most important things you can do for your business and its reputation is to focus on trust. And nothing evokes trust in consumers like Better Business Bureau Accreditation.
What Is the BBB?
The Better Business Bureau is a non-profit organization dedicated to advance marketplace trust by providing an open forum through which consumers can voice complaints and resolve disputes.
While commonly believed to be one national body managing business-consumer relationships and interactions nationwide, the BBB is actually comprised of over 100 local, independently incorporated regional organizations. The BBB is active in all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, all provinces and territories in Canada, and in Mexico. Several local branches exist in most states; New York, for example, has two – one serving Upstate New York and the other encompassing greater New York City. The local branches of the BBB are overseen by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the hub for BBB organizations across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Today, over 13 million consumers utilize the BBB to search for trustworthy businesses. A good standing with the BBB can make or break a small business, drawing the line between a reputation that can be trusted and one that can't.
What Is BBB Accreditation?
While the BBB lists businesses of all kinds in its directories, companies can make sure they stand out by applying for BBB Accreditation. Customers find value in this kind of acknowledgment, with one study noting that consumers are 62% more likely to trust a business with BBB Accreditation than one without. The Accreditation process provides extra vetting, reassuring customers that a company has been verified by an outside, impartial body.
The Benefits of BBB Accreditation
Any certification for your business, whether from an industry body or a third-party local resource, can be beneficial. BBB Accreditation provides this advantageous upside, adding an extra vote of confidence. This can be especially important for small businesses working to build a reputation and curry favor with area consumers.
There are several key advantages to BBB Accreditation that can benefit any business.
A Better Reviews Page
Simply viewing the page of an Accredited Business versus an unaccredited one indicates a clear demarcation. The review pages of Accredited Businesses feature a full business name, verified contact information, business category and industry, links to websites and social media, duration of accreditation, a quote request feature, and review submissions. These pages also feature a statement about BBB Accreditation.
Improved Search Engine Optimization
The text on BBB review pages is always up to date with the best in modern SEO practices, ensuring pages that rank highly on Google. As BBB reviews are professionally created, they use a proper balance of keywords to improve rankings in the SERPs and send traffic to your review pages.
With a high domain authority and a household name, the BBB is trusted by consumers and is likely to be seen in search results. With website information for easy contact and the ability to request a quote or bid, customers are far more likely to reach out, make contact, and lay the foundation for a relationship with your business. This leads to a lower bounce rate and increased customer engagement.
The BBB Accreditation Seal
Only businesses that have been accredited by the BBB can use the Accreditation Seal. When placed on a website or social media page in addition to a presence on the BBB page, this symbol adds an extra layer of trust for customers making a purchase decision.
Centralized Conflict Resolution
No business can satisfy customers 100% of the time. Instead of dealing with conflicts yourself and risking PR problems or exacerbating the issue, the BBB can mediate these situations for Accredited Businesses. With a dispute resolution process that can preserve a business' reputation, complaints can be handled quickly and efficiently.
Access to Intelligence and Analytics
Staying on top of how your business is performing is critical to success, and whether online or off. The BBB can help here, offering intelligent, valuable analytics that can move your business forward. The BBB can provide comparisons to other industry players, a review of advertising, and exclusive co-branding and marketing advantages. The BBB also partakes in a Google Adwords program to help businesses jumpstart a campaign, increasing visibility and boosting the effectiveness of an online presence.
Whether you can benefit from one, several, or all of these advantages, pursuing Accreditation has a lot to offer you and your business.
The BBB has a dedicated application process that is maintained individually by each member BBB organization. This can vary slightly based on the local organization, with specific rules pertaining to an invitation to apply, duration of the business, or anything else seen as a priority in a particular state or metro area. Be sure to check the local rules before moving forward with an application.
However, in addition to organization-specific policies, all businesses seeking approval must meet the basic requirements outlined by the BBB in all stated categories. Business must demonstrate that they meet or will abide by these standards, all of which are at the cornerstone of what the BBB values. By showing that these principles are key to acceptance, the BBB can communicate the same to consumers, giving Accredited Businesses a step up.
A Foundation of Trust
The following criteria are designed to emphasize a positive marketplace track record.
- At least six months of operations in the current service area
- Fulfillment of all licensing and bonding requirements, to be provided to the BBB upon review
- No presence of government actions that go against the ethics of the BBB
- Lack of unsatisfactory reviews and a current BBB rating of at least a B
- Maintenance of a positive relationship with the BBB, including maximizing all Accreditation requirements and cooperation with BBB activities.
Honesty in advertising is critical in establishing a trustworthy experience and is accordingly a tenet of the BBB. This is why all businesses seeking Accreditation must:
- Comply with all local and national advertising policies
- Follow the BBB Code of Advertising and demonstrate compliance as requested
- Abide by all BBB industry self-regulatory codes
- Utilize the BBB logo and name in accordance with policy
- Avoid portraying any inaccurate depictions of sponsorships, memberships, endorsements, or testimonials with other businesses or organizations
Truthful disclosure of relevant information is very important for businesses of all kinds and is a big part of the reputation the BBB seeks to uphold. All Accredited Businesses agree to:
- Provide any material business facts without misrepresentation in both written and verbal communication
- Maintain consistent availability of written content related to business operations that is clear, accurate, and comprehensible
Nothing about contact information or company policies should be confidential. Transparency of this kind of data is required for BBB accreditation.
- Communication of all aspects of the business are required for BBB Accreditation, including contact information, information about owners and company leaders, banking and business references, professional licenses, and a full business description
- Clear disclosure of contact information, contract terms, warranty or guarantee information, limitations on purchases, refund policies, any recurring charges or subscriptions, and total transaction costs
- Disclosure of all information related to e-commerce, including product labeling, shipping terms, full opportunity to review transactions before purchase, and access to a receipt
Respect for Promises
Keeping promises to customers is a key part of acting as a trustworthy business. All BBB Accredited Businesses are expected to:
- Fulfill all contracts as drafted
- Honor stated representations and clear up any mistakes as soon as possible
Answering customer requests and queries is a critical part of maintaining a positive reputation. Responsiveness is a valued part of the principles of the BBB, with requirements including:
- Prompt response to any complaints followed by the BBB, including resolving customer complaints in a timely manner and providing an answer that is respectful, addresses all issues, and offers appropriate support for a business' position
- A good faith effort to handle all disputes in a reasonable manner, including mediation if requested by the BBB
- Compliance with all requested or determined resolutions
- Cooperation with the BBB to promptly handle all issues in a customer-forward way
In the digital age, privacy is more important than ever. The BBB expects that all Accredited Businesses will take appropriate measures to protect customers' personal information.
- E-commerce operations should disclose what information is being collected, how it will be used, if it will be shared, any policy changes regarding information, and how it will be kept safe
- Business must maintain an ability to secure sensitive data using appropriate measures and compliance with industry standards
- Business must show respect for customer preferences, including methods of contact
Businesses that are Accredited by the BBB should display integrity in all aspects of business, including agreeing to refrain from activities that go against the interests of the BBB.
While these requirements may sound daunting, they should be at the heart of every successful and quality business, regardless of a desire for Accreditation. Living up to these guidelines frames your business as a trustworthy, dependable brand, guaranteeing to your customers that you hold yourself and your practices to the highest caliber.
Spreading The News
You know the benefits, you've been through the process, and you're finally the proud recipient of BBB Accreditation. What now?
Once you receive the Accreditation, you need to share! The benefits of a boost to your reputation can't be felt until your customers are aware, and waiting for them to find out organically isn't the best option. To spread the word:
- Post on your social media pages about your accomplishment, including Facebook updates, Live posts on Facebook and Instagram, and Twitter posts
- Incorporate the BBB logo onto your website
- List Accreditation in your bio on social media and your website
- Create a press release or blog post regarding your accomplishments
BBB Accreditation is a big deal, so lean into it, making sure your customers are aware of your standing.
Giving your business a step up over the competition is always something to desire, and aiming for BBB Accreditation is a wonderful way to do this. As an honor that requires the utmost in trustworthiness, customer respect, and integrity, there's no better way to help your business stand out. With additional benefits like improved search engine optimization and better lead generation, there's a lot to gain from BBB Accreditation. When you secure your acceptance, your business – and your revenue streams – will thank you.