The Importance of BBB Accreditation In Residential Heating and Cooling
There is nothing worse than feeling like you have been taken advantage of as a consumer. It can often leave you feeling powerless. Unfortunately, this is an all too common occurrence throughout the home service category. In particular, the residential heating and cooling sector. You hear the nightmare stories of HVAC companies performing maintenance on a heating and air conditioning system only to have it stop working a week later. As an established residential heating and cooling company, we often are left fixing the mistakes. This is just one example about why we always recommend to consumers to check a heating and cooling companies rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) before hiring them to perform service on your home.
About The Better Business Bureau
Founded in 1912, the Better Business Bureau is designed as a self regulated non profit organization. Each community’s chapter is independently operated throughout the United States and Canada. The idea behind the Better Business Bureau was to establish a list of ethical guidelines that local businesses must adhere to in order to become accredited. While the Better Business Bureau is not a governmental agency, accredited members must submit dues. This has often left the BBB subject to controversy as some claim accredited members are paying for their higher ratings with the organization.
How The BBB Rates Businesses
Up until 2008, the Better Business Bureau rated companies based on only two grades, “Satisfactory” and “Unsatisfactory.” Then in 2009, they moved to a new rating system that resembled more of a school grade. The new ratings ranged from an “A+” to an “F”. The Better Business Bureau grades local companies on 16 different factors with 8 relating specifically to trust.
How The BBB Resolves Disputes
When a consumer feels they have been mistreated in accordance to Better Business Bureau standards, he or she can file a dispute. All disputes follow strict guidelines set in place by the BBB council, and are implemented by the local BBB chapter. The role of the Better Business Bureau is to serve as a neutral party throughout the mediation and potential arbitration process. Ideally, all parties work together to try and fix the dispute.
Changes In The Landscape of Online Directories
With the rise of residential home service directories such as Angie’s List and Yelp, many consumers feel as if the Better Business Bureau has become outdated or replaced. However, as the internet continues to evolve, many of the new home directory sites have shifted focus on how the generate revenue. This has affected the overall quality of the way they rate businesses.
Not All Reviews Are Created Equal
One of the major benefits of the way the Better Business Bureau vetts reviews is by verifying the reviewer. This process provides companies with a safeguard from potential competitors or consumers with disingenuous motives. Sometimes a couple of illegitimate bad reviews can often cause a heating and cooling companies overall rating to tank. It is important to ensure that the majority of your reviews come from quality reviewers as most consumers now depend on these ratings when making the decision on who to call.
Lead Gen vs Accredidation
Many of the newer online directories may appear to offer similar information and ratings on service companies, but it is important to notice how and why these business are structured the way they are. Unlike the Better Business Bureau, who is a non profit organization that seeks their operating revenue through membership dues, online directories generate most of their revenue through selling ad space and potential job leads. This business model can often put an emphasis on generating web traffic at all costs in return for sacrificing the quality of the traffic itself. Over time, reviews are not being vetted properly which can directly impact the decision making of the consumer.
The Importance of Reading Reviews On Multiple Sites
Just like analyzing any type of information, the more sources you use to verify, the better the information usually is. Even though we recommend starting with the Better Business Bureau’s website, it is also important to read reviews on other sites. This can provide a check and balance for each source, and will provide a much wider perspective on what past customers are saying about a particular heating and cooling company.
Take The Time To Read The Reviews
Rather than just skimming through the average ratings on each site, take the time to read what the customers had to say. Many times, if you see a consistent trend among complaints, there is a good chance these claims may have some truth to them. A lot of the time consumers will be able to gauge the authenticity to someone’s claim. Anyone that has worked in customer service understands that there are some consumers that can be a little unreasonable at times. This can be especially true for someone writing a review online. The anonymity of online reviews can often be a double edged sword. Try not to put too much stock into one review, but seek to find overall trends about how consumers feel about doing business with a given company.
How Did The Company Reply To Negative Reviews?
Most online review sites will allow companies the ability to respond to an online review. This can often be a major indicator of how a company views their customers. A reputable business will often always look to make things right with a customer. It is also important to remember that there is always two sides to a story. When you encounter an open online exchange between a disgruntled consumer and a business owner, try and look at the dispute from each side. This can help you as consumer gain some context on what exactly happened, and how proactive a company should be in resolving the dispute.
No Business Is Perfect
After all, we are all humans. Every now and then, even the best make mistakes. This can be said for any industry. When it comes to home service, remember that it is not about the mistake itself, it is about how the company made good on the mistake. Good luck.