BBB A+ Rating: Is the Better Business Bureau Rating Still Relevant?

Since 1912, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been a nonprofit organization with the self-described vision of “an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers trust each other”. For over a century, the now iconic BBB A+ rating torch logo signified to consumers that a business or charity had been thoroughly reviewed and vetted by the organization, and therefore was deemed trustworthy.

In our digital age, increasingly more consumers are turning to online reviews of companies prior to making any purchasing decisions. That said, a brand’s positive online reputation is crucial for success. Likewise, reputation management is essential for any company to succeed in the competitive online marketplace. In this article, we’ll delve into whether the Better Business Bureau A+ rating is still relevant.

What is the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a nonprofit organization with no governmental affiliation that functions as a rating and review website for consumers. Since its inception over a century ago, the BBB has maintained a  reputation as a stalwart champion of marketplace trust.

As an organization, the Better Business Bureau states its mission to be as follows:

  • “Setting standards for marketplace trust
  • Encouraging and supporting best practices by engaging with and educating consumers and businesses
  • Celebrating marketplace role models
  • Calling out and addressing substandard marketplace behavior
  • Creating a community of trustworthy businesses and charities”

What is a BBB Accredited Business?

The Better Business Bureau outlines eight accreditation standards for any company to uphold in order to be granted the “BBB Accredited Business” seal. At its own accord, these standards were created by the organization to determine what it believes constitutes a reputable business. Examples from the BBB criteria include truthful representation of products and/or services, possessing a positive performance history in the company’s local marketplace, and maintaining ethical advertising and selling practices.

After a company submits the initial contact and business information form, it is then vetted by the aforementioned eight BBB accreditation standards. A recommendation to either “approve” or “deny” the company is then made to the Board of Directors. The company is then contacted regarding the respective decision. Lastly, said company must pay the Better Business Bureau what it deems annual “accreditation dues”. These annual fees depend on the number of employees at a company and the respective local chapter of the BBB and can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

How Does the BBB A+ Rating Work?

The Better Business Bureau has a letter-grade rating system in place, providing consumers with an indication of how reputable a respective company is based on BBB criteria. Companies are given a grade ranging from “A+” to “F”. For decades, having a BBB A+ rating was coveted by businesses because of its significance to so many consumers. 

However, over the last decade or so, the Better Bussiness Bureau has come under scrutiny in the media for irregularities in its ratings. In fact, it has come to light that some accredited companies have had the BBB A+ rating despite problematic business practices

Consumers Have Alternative Rating and Reviews Sites

Yet, in our digital age, increasingly consumers have a myriad of alternative relevant resources to turn to for ratings and reviews such as Google Reviews, Facebook reviews, or Yelp. Reviews on these sites are important because they are written by previous customers, and assist with establishing credibility and trust with consumers.

Based on research, in July 2022 alone, Google accounted for 83.84% of the worldwide search market. Suffice it to say, companies would be well served to ensure that they had a favorable online reputation across all the major ratings and review sites. As more people become digitally savvy, they are more inclined to trust consumer opinions online. Building and fostering a positive online reputation is crucial for any company to maintain a positive brand identity in the eyes of consumers. 

The Takeaway

Today, a company having the BBB A+ rating isn’t as relevant as it once was, especially with younger consumers. For older consumers, the Better Business Bureau adds credence to the overall level of trustworthiness of a company. Ultimately, it’s up to the discretion of individual business owners to decide if they want the added expense of the Better Business Bureau accreditation.

In today’s highly competitive digital marketplace, an integral element to success for any business is a solid, positive online reputation. Companies that exude credibility and trustworthiness with a great online reputation tend to attract more consumers, in addition to other components such as excellent web design. With an overall positive impression, a company gains more attention, more traffic, and increased sales ensuing success well into the future.

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