Founded more than 100 years ago, the Better Business Bureau, which seeks to help consumers find and recommend trusted brands, has seen a lot of changes. Facebook, Twitter, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor and other social media forums and websites today give customers a large platform from which to issue complaints and exchange information.
“It has certainly complicated business,” said Mountain States BBB President and CEO Pamela King.
To better help its members, King has made technology engagement a Mountain States BBB cornerstone.
“Our mission is to create trust between buyers and sellers. People would rather talk about a company than to a company,” King said.
That may be, but the Mountain States BBB often finds itself helping members with dispute resolutions. “Our job is to try to come up with a solution so both parties feel satisfied with the resolution,” she said.
King, who assumed her role in 1997, was instrumental in growing the Mountain States BBB’s team and increasing its technology presence. When King joined the organization, seven employees handled most complaints by phone. Today, it has 18 employees including search engine optimization researchers who help boost members’ Google rankings.
The Mountain States BBB serves 38 counties in Wyoming and Colorado. Its accredited members have increased from 1,700 in 1997 to more than 3,500 at the close of the 2012.
Thanks to the web, the organization is dealing with many more “instances of service” today than ever. That measure is up from 34,000 in 1997 to 1.1 million in 2012. Approximately 800 area businesses apply for accreditation annually.
King has put a strong emphasis on ethics in her tenure. The Mountain States BBB is one of 10 original BBBs in what is now a 25-organization strong Center for Character Ethics.
The centers organize national speakers and ethics-based programming for area businesses. Several of the centers, including the Mountain States BBB, host a Torch Awards for Ethics each year. In the Colorado/Wyoming area, the Torch Awards for Ethics have recognized area businesses committed to ethical practices for 14 years.
Also, through a partnership with Fort Collins Rotary Club, the Mountain States BBB each year awards a $5,000 ethics scholarship to a high school junior or senior. So far, $60,000 in scholarships have been awarded.
The organization also designed an ethics boot camp for Colorado State University freshman and connects university students to business leaders.
“I think there’s a really nice ripple effect in all of this,” King said. “The intent is to get kids interested in ethical decisions and give them an opportunity to talk to someone in the community.”