The Better Business Bureau, otherwise known as the BBB, is a private organization that provides consumers with information on businesses and helps them settle disputes in the US, Canada, and Mexico. More notably, the BBB accredits companies that comply with specific criteria, such as customer service standards and ethical business practices, that demonstrate these businesses’ commitment to their customers. For this reason, BBB accreditation is an important step in winning the trust of consumers and stakeholders.
If you recently launched a business or are an established, consumer-driven enterprise looking for a way to boost your company’s reputation and improve your relationships, BBB accreditation is a great place to start.
As a BBB-accredited business and advocate for online payment security, Privacy leverages many resources across our Customer Experience and Compliance Teams to monitor and address all customer concerns. In this guide, we will discuss the BBB accreditation process in more detail and offer tips from our experience working with the organization.
What does BBB accredited mean?
The overall mission of the BBB is to promote marketplace trust by providing accessible information around companies’ performance ratings, consumer education, and business best practices. The BBB shares three key rating scales to help consumers glean a more holistic view of a prospective company: accreditation, letter grading, and star ratings.
If the BBB accredits a business, the business has met a specific set of criteria known as the BBB Accreditation Standards, which include honesty, integrity, responsiveness, and several other pillars. In short, if a business is accredited, it has demonstrated a commitment to its customers’ best interests.
The BBB also gives many businesses, accredited or not, a grade based on the A through F letter grading system. The grading system is based on an evaluation made by the BBB and is largely dependent on a business’s attention to resolving customer complaints.
Finally, there is a star rating system based on consumer reviews, with five stars being the highest. Anyone can navigate directly to a business’s BBB profile and leave a one-through five-star review on the page. Each review contributes to an average star score visible on the company’s profile, providing comprehensive, firsthand context from consumers.
Is BBB accreditation important?
BBB accreditation is important because it signals that a business meets a high standard of customer care, follows local and federal laws, and is deemed trustworthy. For consumer-driven businesses, it’s crucial to have a positive reputation in the eyes of consumers, potential partners, and other stakeholders.
For consumers, knowing that a business has been accredited can foster credibility and move prospective consumers down the consideration funnel. According to a study conducted by the BBB, 70% of consumers who recognize the BBB seal deem the business reputable, and 66% believe it to be honest and ethical. Immediately demonstrating a reputable, honest, and ethical operation is vital in building consumer trust, especially when handling finances and collecting personally identifiable information (PII), as Privacy does.
From a business standpoint, the BBB also provides several marketing benefits to accredited companies. For example, they will list your business in their Accredited Business Online Directory, set you up with an Accredited Business Profile which appears at the top of Google’s search engine, and provide you with a lead generation tool.
In some industries, bank partners and regulators may audit BBB complaints to ensure adherence to relevant regulations. If you’re operating in the online payment security space, like we are at Privacy, you may need to partner with banks or other financial institutions to launch and grow your product. Ignoring complaints and failing to provide efficient customer support could result in pushback from an oversight partner. A BBB accreditation shows partners that you resolve complaints appropriately and care for your customers.
The same goes for investors. Those looking to invest capital into your business may want to see that you have BBB accreditation. There are many steps that go into ensuring your business is ready for accreditation, and stakeholders may find comfort in knowing your business has proactively taken the measures to build trust and credibility with your consumers.
Is it bad if a business is not BBB accredited?
It’s not necessarily a red flag if a business is not accredited by the BBB. However, taking steps to get your business accredited shows customers that you are committed to giving them the best experience possible.
"Most startups will start as unaccredited, and may even receive an initial rating of an F due to small or nonexistent customer support teams,” says Rob Wnorowski, our Compliance Operations Lead. “Don't panic! As a company scales, and support/compliance teams scale, resources should be allocated to cleaning up unanswered and unresolved complaints. It's never too late to go from an F to an A within months.”
Gaining accreditation can also be a way to stand out in a competitive market. Of the millions of enterprises in North America, only about 400,000 are BBB accredited. Therefore, operating a business accredited by the BBB can be a key point of differentiation within your industry.
Although BBB accreditation is not the only mark of an ethical business, consumers and other stakeholders certainly look out for such recognition. In the next section, we’ll discuss the accreditation process in detail.
How can a business get accredited by the BBB?
Sometimes the BBB will make contact with a business to encourage them to apply for accreditation. Regardless, to start the accreditation process, you will need to apply online through their online portal or contact your local BBB office. You can find your nearest chapter by searching BBB’s directory.
The BBB outlines particular parameters that make a business eligible for accreditation. A company must first work closely with the BBB to ensure they are qualified, and then pay a fee to receive official accreditation.
According to the BBB’s eligibility requirements, these top-level criteria must be met for an application to be considered:
- You have been in business at least six months
- You have the required bonding and licenses in your jurisdiction
- You have no unresolved customer complaints (If you do, BBB can help you resolve those)
- You have no governmental ethics violations
- You fulfill all contracts and promises made through business practices and advertising
- You follow governmental and BBB advertising laws and codes
Additionally, adequately resolving customer complaints often requires collaboration between various internal teams. We asked Rob to advise businesses looking to receive and maintain accreditation. “Getting BBB accredited is Step 1, and arguably is not too difficult to achieve after a cleanup of unresolved and unanswered complaints. But resources need to be allocated and the momentum built up needs to continue in terms of maintaining accreditation and a high rating. And this is done with strong customer support and compliance teams that provide clear, quick, and helpful responses to customers during the first line of resolution - before the customer even escalates to BBB.” We’ll dive into what this process should look like in the next section.
Resolving BBB Complaints
All BBB complaints filed during your business’s lifetime must be resolved to be considered for accreditation. As a result, this step can be the most challenging of the listed BBB requirements to fulfill if your business does not have a dedicated Customer Support Team or capacity to settle what could be years of unresolved customer complaints.
If you’re a new business interested in accreditation, it’s best to set up a Customer Support Team as quickly as possible and settle every BBB complaint as it comes in. If you’re an established company, this could be a time-consuming process that might be best tackled collaboratively by a dedicated Customer Support or Compliance Team. In any case, it is crucial to maintain records of all communications with your customers should you need to provide the BBB with proof of attempted resolution.
Having an internal system for resolving customer complaints should be your first line of defense. However, once the BBB receives a complaint, you will need to work closely with the organization to resolve your customer’s issue. This step is best tackled by an internal Compliance Team.
How to resolve a BBB complaint:
- Access your company’s complaints through BBB’s Complaint Hub
- Craft a response to your customer (acknowledge the customer’s concerns, state the facts as you see them, and explain the actions you can and cannot take to resolve them)
- Submit your response through BBB’s online portal
- BBB and customer will review and accept your response, or appeal it
- If appealed, you’ll need to draft a follow-up clarifying any outstanding asks from the customer and submit it back to the BBB/customer for review
Although receiving a BBB complaint can feel daunting, it can afford your business an opportunity for growth. Responding to a customer complaint as efficiently and effectively as possible shows customers that you acknowledge their feedback and are dedicated to building a truly customer-driven service. The customer feedback may also provide direct learnings for product improvement and grounding for new audience research.
BBB Accreditation Cost
A business must pay an annual tax deductible fee, called Accreditation Dues, to cover the accreditation application review process, monitoring fees, and overall support for the organization’s continued service to customers.
The cost depends on your company’s size, the date it was established, and whether you have a corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship. You will need to contact your local BBB office for more insight into what accreditation costs might look like for your business.
Privacy Virtual Cards for Online Payment Security
Our mission at Privacy is to build secure online payment products that protect our user’s finances. Privacy offers the first virtual payment card that enables consumers to transact online without ever having to expose their financial account or debit card information. Our features enable users to mask their debit and bank account numbers at checkout, set spend limits on purchases, and pause and unpause cards on demand.
Privacy is BBB-accredited
While protecting our consumers’ online payment security is at our core, Privacy commits to doing everything we can to ensure our users’ feedback is heard and addressed. So, is BBB accreditation important? For us, absolutely. In order to foster consumer trust, it’s crucial we hold ourselves accountable for creating a customer-centric operation. In fact, Forbes named Privacy as one of the “Top 100 Most Consumer-Centric Companies of 2022”, further highlighting our ongoing commitment to prioritizing our customer experience.
Looking for ways to protect your finances and make secure payments online? Sign up for Privacy today!