8 Core Values That Separate Good Businesses From Great Businesses
For more than 100 years now, BBB has been dedicated to one cause: creating a marketplace where buyers and sellers trust each other.
For business owners, understanding this vision is critical. Nothing has a greater effect on a business’s bottom line or is of higher value than customer relationships built on trust. However, those types of relationships don’t come easily and every business struggles with determining how to best create them. The BBB “Standards for Trust” give Accredited Businesses, like your business, a foundation of values that you can build upon to turn first-time customers into lifelong brand advocates.
Here are the eight standards that your business committed to uphold when you first became accredited, along with some thoughts from actual Accredited Business owners on what it truly means to follow them.
1. Build Trust
The fundamental connection of trust between consumers and businesses is now more important than ever. The latest Edelman Trust Barometer study for 2018—which globally measures people’s trust in government, NGOs, media, and businesses—shows that trust is at an all-time low in every category.
The good news is that businesses rank second as the most trusted organization, ahead of both government and the media. This gives your business the opportunity to stand as a source of credibility in a world of fake news and misinformation.
Edelman’s study reported that “nearly 7 in 10 respondents say that building trust is the No. 1 job for CEOs, ahead of high-quality products and services.” No flashy product, service, discount, or perk can fill the void where there isn’t consumer trust.
“Without trust, you don’t have anything,” said Justin Grohnke, Accredited Store Manage of Beggars Pizza. about the impact trust has on his business. “Without trust, you don’t have a business. Without trust you don’t have customers—you don’t have employees.”
2. Advertise Honestly
Each year, numerous companies are sued for millions of dollars because of unsubstantiated advertising claims. Whether you do your own advertising or go through a professional agency, always ensure that any information you put out about your products or services is accurate and truthful.
“Avoid misleading customers by creating the false impression of sponsorship, endorsement, popularity, trustworthiness, product quality or business size through the misuse of logos, trustmarks, pictures, testimonials, or other means.” (BBB Accreditation Standards)
The BBB standard to “advertise honestly” is in direct alignment with the policies of many other professional organizations, such as the Federal Trade Commission. You can refer to BBB’s Code of Advertising if you ever have any questions about what constitutes honest advertising. When it comes to marketing your business, always remember this age-old adage: “Say what you mean and mean what you say.”
3. Tell the Truth
There’s no quicker way to lose your customers’ hard-earned trust than to lie. Similar to the standard above, this means conveying honesty in all that you do and not just in advertising alone. And though we typically think of this standard as an outward initiative, it first starts internally with creating a culture of trust among your employees.
“I think that a company like ours, if we hadn’t done the right things, we wouldn’t have been in business for 39 years,” said Charles Strader, Accredited Business Owner of Nashville Used Music. Strader expressed the importance of teaching his employees to act with integrity. “That’s what I teach my salespeople—to tell the truth about anything that you’re selling—the truth about everything.”
For tips on how to hire people of integrity, check out this BBB article, “6 Ways to Hire For Honesty.”
4. Be Transparent
It pays to be transparent and if your brand isn’t, then consumers will hunt elsewhere for information about your business. Findings from a study by Label Insight found that “56 percent of consumers say they would be loyal to a company for life if it provided complete transparency. Additionally, 81 percent say they would be willing to sample a brand’s entire range of products if they were comfortable with its degree of transparency (Label Insight, 2016).”
Zappos.com, an Accredited Business and highly successful online shoe retailer, lists transparency as one of their brand’s official core values. The company has gained public praise from Entrepreneur.com and others for giving tours of their headquarters and providing vendors with complete visibility into their business.
Your efforts to be more transparent won’t go unnoticed by your customers—as evidenced by what one customer had to say about her experience in working with an accredited auto business in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“Birchwood Auto’s service is professional and above board,” said Blenda C., a customer at Birchwood Automotive Group. “They keep you in the loop and there are no surprises. You can tell they work together as a team.”
5. Honor Promises
Your business is only as good as its ability to deliver on its promises. BBB defines “honoring promises” as the responsibility Accredited Businesses have to “abide by all written agreements and verbal representations.” Broken promises lead to broken trust.
“I believe that you have to deliver what you tell your customers—you need to overdeliver what you tell your customers, said Don Kennedy, President of the accredited Don Kennedy Roofing Company, on what it means to honor promises with customers.
In the roofing and other home remodeling industries especially, completing a project on time is a promise that no business can afford to break. Kennedy’s customers are grateful for his continued commitment to uphold this promise and all others his business makes.
“They keep their promises and do the work on time—[I] would highly recommend Don Kennedy Roofing to anyone looking for a good, quality roof,” says Robert M., customer at Don Kennedy Roofing Company.
6. Be Responsive
Being responsive is critical to building trust regardless if it’s answering your phone, replying to customers’ questions via social media or email, or responding to a complaint or negative review online.
Negative online reviews are one of the areas in which you should be most responsive. Bright Local’s 2017 “Local Consumer Review Survey” found that “85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations,” and 30 percent judge businesses based on how they respond to reviews. Here are six tips from BBB’s “Guide to Becoming the Most Talked About Brand” to help you when replying to negative reviews:
- Automate the process
- Respond in a calm state
- See criticism as an opportunity
- Say, “I’m sorry”
- Don’t make excuses
- Educate your customers
Responding to customers conveys the message that you genuinely care about their needs and want to make things right if there’s a problem.
7. Safeguard Privacy
Personal data privacy is at the forefront of the minds of digital consumers everywhere. The recent data scandal surrounding Facebook, along with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) going into effect, are just two examples of how important data privacy is to consumers.
Respect your customers’ privacy, keep their sensitive data secure, and continually update your company’s policy so that it is current with any new laws and regulations. This is especially important for businesses in industries like healthcare, legal services, and finance.
8. Embody Integrity
Your business can best develop this final standard by making the other seven BBB Standards for Trust an important part of who you are. Integrity comes through action and is more dependent on what you do, not what you say. Show your customers your organization embodies integrity by approaching every situation with honesty and respect.
No Better Formula for Success
We hope you’ll continue to follow these eight standards and share them with your team as a reminder of what your business stands for. There truly is no better formula for success. Don’t just settle at being a “good” business—be great by recommitting to follow these standards. Rick Vine, Accredited Business owner of Vine’s Plumbing & Water Restoration, said it best.
“To be BBB Accredited, it simply means to be honest, to be giving, to be the best you can absolutely be.”
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