I’ve had plenty of customers ask whether they should become a member of the Better Business Bureau over the years. There was a time any responsible business manager or consultant would say “of course”. Consumers trusted the Better Business Bureau. Other businesses trusted the Better Business Bureau. Everyone trusted the Better Business Bureau.
The mission of the Better Business Bureau was to create trust between the consumer and a business. A member business joined the Better Business Bureau and agreed to a set of Better Business Bureau standards. Complaints about a business were forwarded to the business and a reply was expected in short order to answer that complaint.
The Better Business Bureau also warned about business scams as soon as they were reported to them and to this day, remain one of the best sources for local scams and rip-off schemes. You will see your local newspaper, television, and radio station use the BBB for verification and advice.
While the Better Business Bureau has served us all well since 1912, they no longer have an exclusive in the review business. In the digital age, we have Yelp. We have Google reviews. We have Facebook reviews. We have Amazon reviews, Foursquare reviews, Angie’s List reviews, Epinions and more. Today, we turn to websites and social media for most everything we do.
We’ve discussed this before, but for the purposes of this story, let me share these facts again.
- 91% of online adults use search engines online.
- 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
- Every one-star increase on Yelp translates to a 5%-10% increase in revenue.
Yelp, Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and the rest of the website where people can leave reviews have eclipsed the Better Business Bureau in a number of ways. Yes, the Better Business Bureau websites now allow reviews in place of just complaints. However, the BBB was very late to party with this feature. Search for businesses large and small on a Better Business Bureau website and you will be want to find a review anywhere. Instead, you will find the complaints written about the business (if any) quite easily.
Now take a look on Yelp, Facebook, or any of the newer review sites. You will see complaints as well as compliments. You will see a rating. You will see stories from consumers good and bad. Those comments and those reviews are there for free and that is the big difference between the Better Business Bureau and the online review sites. The Better Business Bureau charges a membership fee to businesses based on their size, anywhere from $500 to $1500 a year. Membership fees is how the Better Business Bureau has supported themselves since their inception. Yelp, Facebook, Google and the other websites are advertising supported, so therefore free to businesses and consumers alike. Yes, you can pay for more photos and better position and exposure with the online sites, but there are no membership fees needed to participate.
This is not a slam on the Better Business Bureau. They have served the American consumer and business community well for over 100 years. The Better Business Bureau has served as both a community interest and a marketing vehicle for business members. I just question whether in 2018 if your $500+ is better spent marketing your optical business elsewhere.
Share your thoughts and experiences below.