Is the Better Business Bureau still relevant to consumers on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram at a time of almost immediate response?
For more than 110 years, the office has been built to build trust between consumers and businesses, and it says it still demands its services. The North Central Texas office had more than 4,295,021 inquiries on its website last year, and more than 62,353 complaints were processed. 90% of these complaints were resolved.
But many young consumers go to Twitter, Instagram, or other social networks to make their complaints public. In a few seconds, their responses can be seen by the corporate social media groups that control traffic.
And some companies, even well-known ones, are no longer bothering to join the BBB.
Take a favorite Texas, Buc-ee’s. The convenience store took off in April because it collected 100 BBB complaints in April 2006 – a small number that seems to be the number of people who stop at the locations of large convenience stores and gas station chains every day.
However, the BBB denies on its website that Buc-ee does not respond to complaints filed with the agency, which began in 1912.
“At the store level, our managers have the power to make decisions,” Jeff Nadal, Buc-ee’s chief adviser, said in an email in April. “We choose not to address issues through the BBB or any other social media platform. As we know, most social media complaints are false. We believe that good old-fashioned resolution is the best option for us.”
The same goes for Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, which says it works directly with dissatisfied customers.
The carrier ranks 1.14 out of five stars for customer feedback and gets an F rating on the Better Business Bureau website and has chosen not to be a member of the agency. “We do not respond to customers via the BBB, as stated on their website,” a Southwestern spokesman said in an email. “In many cases, we respond directly to customers.”
David Beasley, Dallas BBB’s vice president and chief operating officer, says what sets Better Business Bureau apart is its core services. Human is the first, second technology company, whose conflict resolution services are made by real people who check that the company has treated the consumer correctly, Beasley said.
“You can yell at that black hole, but that company won’t help you try to fix your problem,” Beasley said. “So the BBB has somehow cornered the market and is still able to provide direct support to consumers.”
The Better Business Bureau in North Central Texas employs more than 45 people at its Elm Street office in 29 Texas counties, serving 5.6 million consumers and 120,000 businesses. According to Beasley, the basic business fee for joining the BBB is $ 500 per year. As a 501C-6 organization, the Better Business Bureau relies on membership fees, which vary depending on the size of the business.
BBB viewers are consumers who are reaching a stage in their lives where they are “buying a house or a pool or a really expensive repair,” Beasley said. “It simply came to our notice then. So it’s no surprise that an 18-year-old doesn’t know what the Better Business Bureau is. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be pivoting to meet the needs of the market. “
Monica Horton, a spokeswoman for Better Business Bureau in North Central Texas, said in an internal study by the BBB agency that 88% of consumers who reported BBB were more likely to buy in an A + or A-rated business.
The agency said it is following closely the complaints filed on its website. “We do our best to verify and verify that the person who submitted the review was actually the company’s customer,” Horton said.
Scams are fairly common, and that has been the final focus of the agency, he said.
A key event
Business professor Rajashri Srinivasan at the University of Texas at Austin says the network’s complaints arose in 2009 with a major incident.
Canadian musician Dave Carroll then opened the box with his Taylor guitar in his hand to find it completely demolished after an airline flight.
He complained to United Airlines, but nothing came of it, so Carroll posted a series of three videos on YouTube called “United Breaks Guitars” about a $ 3,500 damaged guitar.
United Airlines reported a 10% loss in market value at the time. And while there is no evidence that the videos have hurt United financially, they have certainly not helped.
Srinivasan says social media was not taken up before that because YouTube had just released it in 2005. Yelp complaints and Google feedback were uncommon.
Now young consumers generally turn to Twitter, Instagram or TikTok when they want to complain in real time, Srinivasan said. He said companies control social media in a variety of ways and try to respond to consumer complaints.
“Social media is a new platform for consumer complaints,” Srinivasan said. “The Better Business Bureau is similar to the previous generation of technology. It’s not very clear whether they will continue to be important in the next two years.”
The BBB says it’s not just for older consumers. In fact, online fraud makes it even more important, Horton said.
Many North Central Texas businesses still rely on the agency, including Dallas-based AT&T, which has an A + rating but only 1.11 out of five stars in the BBB’s consumer rankings.
“At Better Business Bureau, our mission is to be a marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other,” Horton said. “That’s our goal.”
Six Flags Corp., based in Arlington, has an A + rating, but is only 1.08 out of 5 for consumer reviews. The company has closed 1,282 complaints in the last three years, according to the BBB website.
His top priority is to provide a safe and enjoyable experience, said Brad Malone, Six Flags Over Texas and marketing and communications manager at Hurricane Harbor.
“The Better Business Bureau is one of the largest third-party review sites that provides an outlet for our guests to send valuable feedback,” Malon said. “This also provides us with a neutral platform to resolve concerns directly with our guests.”
And the BBB says it’s aimed at the newest generation of consumers. Horton said young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are at higher risk of being cheated.
“Older people are what people think, because losses are usually bigger, but online shopping was our 1st scam, followed by cryptocurrency,” Horton said. “These are all scams that look like demographics.”
Fraud and fake advertising are two areas that the BBB is breaking, Beasley said. The agency is also working on its search engine optimization and site traffic so that consumers can immediately see business ratings when they search for a business.
“We’re confident that our technology will get us to a point where a consumer needs us,” Beasley said.