Digital Age a Critical Time for Businesses to Reestablish Trust in Marketplace
The digital age has placed tremendous pressure not just on large corporations but also on smaller local businesses. Consumers are understandablywary about the business climate today, concerned about privacy issues, fair practices and authenticity. These threats feel especially egregious in the Midwest, a region known for integrity, among other values. As in life, trust remains the common thread in every positive business transaction. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) provides Iowa businesses with the opportunity to join this “Marketplace of Trust.”
The BBB provides business support and recognition across Iowa with a primary office in Des Moines and two satellite offices in Cedar Rapids and Bettendorf. The organization focuses on building trust between businesses and consumers to create healthy and dynamic communities. To achieve this goal, a business must meet rigorous accreditation standards, an assessment that has formed the foundation of the Iowa BBB since its founding in 1940.
Though the accreditation standards were created on the national level, the Iowa BBB is an organization dedicated to serving the Hawkeye State and the Midwest lifestyle exclusively. Regional consumers have shown they trust the Better Business Bureau designation when shopping for goods and services.
“None of our scores are driven by how much money [a business] has given us or whether they advertise with us,” states Iowa BBB President Chris Coleman. “It depends solely on how they respond to complaints, what their advertising is like, whether governments have had any problems with them with their licensing. Those are all factored into the company grades.”
Not surprisingly, specific “Standards of Trust” remain the lynchpin of the accreditation process. These standards encourage building trust by establishing a positive reputation in the marketplace. Honest advertising is a natural tenet of these standards, as is telling the truth to honestly represent services and products. Transparency, a critical element in all society, is also expected, specifically open identification of the business and a clear disclosure of all policies.
Honoring these policies and responding swiftly and responsibly to any consumer grievance is also critical. Privacy is yet another national story with local implications, and the BBB Standards of Trust incorporate full personal protection against the mishandling of data as well as fraud. In general, business members are expected to “Embody Integrity” in all business dealings and marketplace transactions.
In 2016, the BBB took the initiative to combat the growing threat of privacy breaches by joining the EU–US Privacy Shield and Swiss–US Privacy Shield. This enables data transfers into US-based businesses to receive additional protection as well as assistance should there be a data transfer dispute. Businesses benefit from two decades of data privacy expertise and receive assistance in meeting the Privacy Shield requirements, including the certification and recertification processes. As in all disputes mitigated by the BBB, businesses can rest assured that all privacy-based inquiries and complaints will be answered promptly.
The BBB has also established the Institute for Marketplace Trust, an educational foundation that promotes trust in the marketplace through best practices, business ethics and consumer awareness.
The BBB Center for Character Ethics provides tools and resources specifically designed to construct a trustworthy business culture to benefit both businesses and their consumers. The Center for Character Ethics makes multiple tools available to businesses of all sizes. The “UncommonSense” Framework supports ethical leadership standards. The TRUST! Assessment is an all-employee tool used to diagnose and determine next steps for building a more trust-based culture. The TRUST! Framework is drawn from “high character” individuals who have established highly competent business practices. These programs culminate in the International Torch Awards for Ethics. Companies are honored annually for demonstrating extraordinary best practices, leadership, social responsibility and the highest standards of ethics.
The more businesses can institute a culture of trust, the less likely scammers and fraud agents will succeed with their goals to steal and defraud from Iowans. The Corporate Trust Roundtable provides businesses with a forum to exchange ideas and work together to establish a more trustworthy consumer-business relationship. Part of the Better Business Bureau Institute (BBBI), the Corporate Trust Roundtable is comprised of local business leaders who are dedicated to establishing the highest integrity in the business-consumer relationship.
Iowans have always valued integrity, hard work and fair practices. The Better Business Bureau was established on these same principles more than 100 years ago. This foundation, based on integrity, has never been more vulnerable to attack than in today’s digital age. The BBB continues to work diligently with business partners and consumers to keep the Marketplace of Trust an integral component of our Iowa culture.