The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been “advancing marketplace trust” since 1912 by rating businesses based on metrics such as trustworthiness and performance. Its grading system has changed a few times since its founding, but its goal remains largely the same: to empower consumers with information on businesses, brands and charities.
In the past decade, the BBB has become overshadowed by other websites that claim to be the best customer review platforms. In fact, some business owners believe that the BBB is now irrelevant due to the rise of competitors such as Yelp and Google Reviews. However, this could not be further from the truth. Better Business Bureau reviews and especially BBB accreditation and a high BBB rating continue to provide value to organizations of all sizes and industries.
The BBB’s online directory remains one of the best review sites for various reasons. It is a great resource for consumers keen on getting more information about businesses. Additionally, companies find it valuable because of its review generation and business reputation management potential.
The ABCs of the BBB
Contrary to popular belief, the Better Business Bureau is not a government agency. The BBB is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide consumers with helpful information on businesses, brands and charities.
Apart from being one of the best review sites online, the BBB also gives companies the opportunity to be discovered by these consumers through the directory on its website.
Better Business Bureau Reviews: How They Work
Customers can leave reviews of businesses whose products or services they’ve obtained. A star rating is then given to represent how satisfied they were with their marketplace interaction.
The BBB’s efforts to substantiate feedback before publishing make it one of the best customer review platforms. This is in stark contrast to some of the so-called “best customer review platforms” like Yelp and even Google Business Profile that publish all and any reviews without measures to ensure their factual accuracy.
To leave BBB reviews, users can log into their BBB account and search for the business they want to give feedback on.
The BBB team assesses all BBB reviews to ensure they come from real customers. To prevent misuse of their service, the BBB:
- Validates the reviewer’s email address.
- Sends the review to the business to confirm that they’ve interacted with the reviewer.
- Scrubs reviews to remove personally identifiable information and inappropriate language.
However, the BBB makes it clear that it cannot and does not guarantee that all BBB reviews that appear on business profiles are accurate and truthful. For this reason, businesses need to keep an eye on their Better Business Bureau ratings and reviews, dispute them if needed and reply. Unfortunately, this can be time-consuming and challenging to do unless you have a team dedicated to online review monitoring and business reputation management.
Online reputation management software or the help of reputation management consultants can make the online review monitoring process easier for businesses on BBB and elsewhere. Typically, online reputation management services include online review monitoring and review generation, the latter being critical to balancing negative reviews with positive feedback.
Who Reads Better Business Bureau Reviews?
Some entrepreneurs believe the BBB is best for businesses catering to older customers. However, a BBB listing or profile still values those who target younger audiences. While Gen Y and Z may prefer reading reviews on social media platforms, the BBB remains a go-to destination for reviews across all age groups. This is hugely thanks to its reputation as a trustworthy and unbiased source.
Additionally, potential customers within a specific service area will likely read reviews on local businesses regardless of age. This is helpful for local SEO. What’s more, according to Rize Reviews’ Senior Reputation Manager Tim Clarke, a BBB listing and accreditation still holds value for all age groups “…because they still have great search results on Google for branded searches. When people Google a business, the BBB page usually comes up on page 1 if not page 2.”
Better Business Bureau Accreditation and Listing: What’s the Difference?
Business owners who want to register on the BBB website have plenty of benefits to look forward to, including the option to create a free listing or apply for accreditation.
Free Listing on the BBB Website
Another reason why the BBB is considered one of the best review websites for businesses and not just consumers is the ability to list businesses at no cost in its directory. This option allows you to:
- Claim your business profile.
- Enter your business name and contact information.
- Create a description of your company and what you offer.
- Provide a few more details, such as your start date, business entity and website.
To list your business for free, you’d need to apply with your local BBB office. You can do this online by looking up which one serves the jurisdiction in which your company is located.
Better Business Bureau Accreditation
Meanwhile, to become accredited, you’d have to:
Determine if you’re eligible: The BBB will not consider accrediting businesses that do not meet its requirements. These include:
- Having been in business for a minimum of six months.
- Possessing all required licenses and bonding in your area.
- Adherence to government and BBB advertising codes and laws.
- Having no unresolved customer complaints.
How To Start the BBB Accreditation Application Process
File an application: You can apply online or reach out to your local BBB office. To find it, visit the BBB website and enter your location. Then, visit the local office’s website and follow the application instructions. You might need to apply via phone, email or an online form. You will be required to provide information about your business, such as its name, address and number of employees.
Get reviewed by the BBB: Your BBB office will conduct a rigorous review of your public records and other sources to determine whether your business is trustworthy. Being BBB-accredited proves that your organization adheres to the BBB’s Eight Standards for Trust. To qualify for accreditation, your company will need to:
- Have a positive track record.
- Advertise honestly.
- Be truthful.
- Be transparent.
- Honor promises.
- Be responsive to complaints and concerns by addressing marketplace disputes.
- Safeguard your customers’ privacy.
- Embody integrity.
As part of the review process, you will be interviewed by a local BBB representative over the phone or in person.
Pay the accreditation dues: You’ll need to pay accreditation dues once your application is approved. The cost of accreditation, which is charged annually, pays for the BBB’s operational expenses. It does not guarantee high Better Business Bureau ratings. While the BBB was once accused of being “pay for play,” it has since revamped its process and rating system to ensure fairness and prevent misleading consumers. The fee varies among local BBB chapters. A factor in determining the amount is the number of people employed at your business.
Is Better Business Bureau Accreditation Worth It?
One of the many benefits of having a BBB profile is how user-friendly it is. Consumers can look up the names of specific organizations in the directory of business profiles on the BBB website. Alternatively, they can search for businesses by category and narrow their search further by location.
Apart from maintaining high Better Business Bureau ratings, you should also consider getting BBB accreditation. Doing so goes a long way toward strengthening your online presence and instilling trust in your target audience. In addition, having a free listing gives you the following:
Exposure: The BBB website gets more than 220 million visits annually. Having a listing on one of the most visited and best review sites increases your chances of being found by potential customers. Your listing also serves as a name, address and phone number (NAP) citation, which may help your website rank better in organic search results. Since your NAP on the BBB matches your Google Business Profile, Google will use it to verify that your information is correct. This is helpful for local search, as well as for brand-name searches.
Social proof: In a 2021 Bizrate Insights report, 91 percent of the respondents said they read online reviews before making a purchase. Good reviews left by satisfied customers give your target audience peace of mind about the quality of your product or service and the integrity of your company.
Opportunities for engagement: Businesses can respond to reviews on the BBB website. Doing so is a great way to showcase your customer service and communication approach.
It improves relationships with customers and improves your online reputation. It’s also critical to respond to negative reviews and not just the positive ones. In fact, a survey by BrightLocal revealed that 88 percent of respondents would be likely to use a business that responds to all reviews. Additionally, a Harvard Business Review study found that replying to reviews improves companies’ ratings.
Many reputation management consultants recommend getting listed and obtaining Better Business Bureau accreditation. According to a report published by the BBB, about 400,000 local businesses in the North American region received accreditation in 2020. These businesses got on the BBB bandwagon just in time: That same year, search for online retailers on the BBB website rose by 383 percent.
Additional Benefits of Being BBB Certified
Accreditation delivers the same advantages as a free listing as well as these additional benefits:
Use of the BBB Seal: A 2022 analysis of trust seals by the Baynard Institute found that online shoppers ranked the BBB seal third in a list of badges that instilled the most trust. The Norton Seal and the Google Trusted Store badge took first and second place, respectively.
Only accredited businesses can leverage the BBB seal for marketing purposes. For best results, display the seal on your website or landing page alongside other trust signals and SSL seals. This will let website visitors know that your business is legitimate and trustworthy. You can use the BBB seal on flyers and other printed promotional materials.
Dispute Mediation: Timely and fair resolution of disputes helps businesses retain their high BBB rating. As an accredited BBB member, you benefit from mediation services provided by the BBB.
A link back to your site: While this link is nofollow, it still helps you get referral traffic to your website. Additionally, the BBB is considered a highly authoritative site by Google. Its Quality Search Guidelines also mention that a low rating on the BBB may indicate a negative reputation. For this reason, it’s important to keep your ratings up.
The BBB does not offer a review monitoring service to either free or accredited members. Business owners who want to leverage their BBB membership should consider using online reputation management software to keep track of reviews that need to be responded to or contested.
Another option is to hire a trusted digital marketing agency. One with experience using BBB accreditation for marketing will not only provide a review monitoring service but also repair damage from negative feedback.
Make the Most of Your BBB Accreditation With Help From Rize Reviews
Rize Reviews offers a full suite of online reputation management services. This includes BBB integration for review generation, which, according to Clarke, can help clients generate 4- to 5-star reviews on BBB. Our online reputation management software also integrates with over 100 more review websites. Monitoring them all is easy, thanks to a customizable and easy-to-use dashboard.
We also have an additional service: custom responses. Our writer will provide personalized review responses 24 hours a day on weekdays, so you can be confident that all feedback is addressed promptly. Partnering this option with our review monitoring service ensures timely, personalized replies that help improve customer satisfaction.
To learn more about our reputation management and review generation solutions, call us at 866.325.0303 or fill out the form to get a free demo.