As a businessperson, I have always been concerned that customers get the best information available about my company to assist them in deciding if they want to hire us.
Of course, we provide a lot of information for consumers with our advertising, our website and this blog. However, I think customers should seek out a third-party opinion when making a choice, not only of basement waterproofing companies, but of any service they need to engage.
There are many third-party sources available but I have long believed that one of the best is the Better Business Bureau.
The Better Business Bureau was founded in 1912 to help consumers report and seek help with dishonest, unfair or just plain bad business practices. The BBB consists of 112 independently organized local Bureaus throughout the United States and Canada that are coordinated by the Council of BBBs located in Virginia.
The BBB has a long-established system of rating business based on responses to customer complaints, among other things. Recently, the BBB has been testing an addition to this service: direct consumer reviews as a way to let consumers benefit from the experience of others.
Chicago BBB Now Features Reviews of U.S. Waterproofing
I am very pleased that the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois has recently approved the addition of consumer reviews to its website.
President Steve J. Bernas explains in a recent article on the BBB website: “The new Customer Review feature has been in development and testing for over one year by several BBBs around the country. Their experiences will help our BBB integrate your customer’s comments into the Business Review pages.
“The rationale for this new feature is based on the fact that people like to know what other people’s opinions are. Customer comments have become expected sections on most websites that serve the buying public. Many commerce websites have sections that allow customers to rate products and services.”
Bernas adds, “Because the BBB is focused on being a primary provider of information about good, ethical business, our inclusion of customer comments is a natural progression of what people now expect for an online service and rating provider.”
The BBB will review customer comments in the rating for privacy concerns and inappropriate language. The reviewed business will have the opportunity to respond to the comments, as is done in other online ratings services.
Third party commentary on reviews will not be allowed.
In order to give readers a snapshot of other customers’ experience with the reviewed business, a reviewing customer will contribute to a pie chart on each business by responding to two questions:
Characterize your customer experience with this business: Positive, Neutral or Negative
Would you recommend this business to a friend? Likely, Undecided or Unlikely.
Reviewing customers will be able to write about their experience with a business and rate the business to a scale of 1 – 10. All of this input will be used to generate a “star rating” for the business on a scale of 1 – 5.
“We believe,” adds Bernas, “the combination of validated Customer Reviews and the existing curated letter-grade rating system provides customers the most powerful business evaluation method available.”
Chicago BBB Ratings Based on National System
In 2013, the Council of Better Business Bureaus adopted policy allowing customer reviews on BBB sites. The Council set forth the following qualifications to accept consumer reviews:
- The reviewer’s name, email and ZIP code must be included;
- If the BBB has no record of the company, the reviewer must supply sufficient information to locate it;
- The reviewer must have had a “marketplace interaction” with the company;
- The review must relate to the marketplace interaction by commenting on goods or services provided or offered; and.
- The reviewer has not filed a complaint or written a previous review about the same business regarding the same interaction.
The BBB will decline to include a review for only two reasons:
- If the review includes inappropriate language or personal information to the extent that editing it out would change the substance of the review; or,
- If the review is unintelligible or incomplete. The BBB will give the customer an opportunity to provide the missing information before rejecting the review.
Of course, the BBB does collect membership fees from companies but it does not sell advertising so there is no pressure on businesses to advertise to “improve” their reputations on the BBB site.
I’d like to compare the BBB’s new review system with the other third-party source of consumer information that I admire, Angie’s List. Angie’s List also publishes consumer reviews and rates businesses based on a number of legitimate criteria. It is, however, a fee-based service and even though the cost is reasonable, access is limited to those who enroll and pay. Customer reviews, as well as company ratings and information, are free to all consumers on the BBB website.
Then there’s that other no-cost source of customer reviews, Yelp. We’ve written about Yelp several times in this blog so I won’t rehash it here but between Yelp’s questionable practice of concealing some reviews in favor of others and their recent very public difficulties, I am doubly glad that Chicago consumers now have the BBB as a source of unbiased customer opinion.
So, we welcome the new review system from the BBB and look forward to having our customers make use of it. As of this writing our first review has yet to appear but we believe it will prove a useful tool for consumers and businesses alike.
Of course, the BBB will continue its system of rating businesses with a letter grade based on such factors as the company’s history in business and its response to and resolution of complaints. Consumers who are unable to resolve an issue with a member business may still file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the BBB will do its best to make sure the problem is resolved.
At U.S. Waterproofing, we are proud of our long affiliation with the BBB as we are of our Accredited status and “A+” rating. We are especially proud of the fact that we received the Chicago BBB’s Torch Award for marketplace ethics in 2006. We believe that the BBB is an effective representative of businesses and advocate for consumers and recommend that any prospective customer, whether considering us or one of our competitors, include the BBB in their research.
Our company has been in business for 57 years and in that time has become one of the nation’s largest and most successful basement waterproofing and foundation repair companies in the U.S. We got there by doing right by our customers and we have more than 300,000 of them who are happy with our work.