Is getting accredited by Better Business Bureau the “ no brainer” it appears to be?
Starting a new company? The Better Business Bureau is another thing to ponder– Better Business Bureau is a service for consumers and businesses that provides information relevant to a company’s reputation for service and responsiveness. Businesses that have high standards in those areas can apply for accreditation from the agency. Such an accreditation means that the BBB has determined that the business meets a level of emphasis on customer service which includes a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB accredited businesses pay a fee for such review/monitoring and for support of BBB services to the public.
The BBB makes it easy for consumers to file complaints with the Bureau regarding any company that uses improper business practices. The ability to make such a complaint to an impartial third party helps consumers and other businesses feel more comfortable entering transactions with a company which may be otherwise unknown to them.
Part of the accreditation fee supports the BBB’s efforts in advertising its review services and its existence. It is the Bureau’s belief that all business will be served in a using a self-regulation model as opposed to intrusive government regulation. The BBB works with other similarly purposed organizations to set standards for a range of industries which include advertising, food packaging and electronic retailing.
On the other side of this is the fact that BBB has come under fire in recent years for “selling” its grades to businesses. ABC did an investigation into the company that can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0w6Oick8x48
For consumers it can never hurt to lodge a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. At a minimum, it forces a response from the company about which the consumer is complaining, and may lead to a resolution of the issue that is beneficial to the complainant.
The real issue for businesses is whether the cost of joining, or being accredited by, the Better Business Bureau is a justifiable expense. Consumers trust the BBB, so the enhanced perception the accreditation provides may well be worth it, especially for new businesses without a significant track record. Naturally, this value may diminish in the future if controversy continues to swirl around the BBB and if it comes to be seen as a “pay to play” organization.
As with any other “discretionary” start up expense, an entrepreneur has to consider if this is the highest and best use of scarce resources, and may well want to consider this as merely part of his marketing budget, rather than as an absolute necessity in starting his new business.