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1BIII Moak,
Better Busi­
ness Bureau
(601) R56.0911 I (205) 758·8610
Circulation =115223
1,111111111111111111111 II \II \11111 III
Bill Moak
PreSident/CEO, Better Bureau of Mississippi, 46, Madison
80 What's ' . __:"'", who has been in business knows that·
you are not going to be able to satisfy
every person, every time. In our view,
it A
ethical businesses do everything they
II slon of
can within reason to satisfy their cus­
tomers' expectations. This should
start by communicating all the rele­
the Better
Business Bureau of
vant facts of the transaction, making
sure your customer understands them,
and being responsive to later ques­
Our mission is to be the leader in
tions, and havinga refund policy if cus­
advancing marketplace trust. We do
tomers are dissatisfied.
this by creating a community of trust­
worthy businesses, setting standards
for trust in the marketplace, encourag­
During your tenure,
ing and supporting best practices, cele­
what have you learned
brating marketplace role models, and
denouncing substandard marketplace about Mississippi's
. behavior.
business climate?
Mississippi is a tremendous place in
What resources do Min ourvlew, ethical businesses do everythlilg they can
which to do business. Most of our con­
you offer those with within reason to:satlsfy their custoPier's expect_Jons.Thls sumers are extremelyloyal, so ifybu do
your job right and keep communica­
bUsiness complaints? should start with,communicating all the relevant facts .. .or;
tion lines open, you could have a cus­
Consumers who have a dispute with
tomer for life. (On the other hand, this
a business can come to us for assis­
same loyalty can make it difficult for
Business Practices, which lays out spe­ ly, as some businesses cut back on
tance in settling the dispute. Our goal
new businesses to gaina foothold.)
cific things we expect from those busi­ basic services, they risk cutting back
is to be fair and impartial, and we do
Most business people have learned
nesses. Accredited businesses pay on people who help provide customer
not take sides. Consumers can file
that their most valuable assets are
fees, which help fund our services. service. These people are often the
complaints in two ways. We have a
their reputations, and that concept is
When they become accredited, busi­ "eyes and ears" of the business, and
national complaint system available on
very important to people here inMis­
nesses can use the BEB seal, a highly have a"lot to do with how view
our website, at, or con­
sissippi. Businesses that survive inour
trusted mark of excellence that has that business, and how responsive it is
sUmers can fill out a complaint form by
marketplace are also good corporate
been proven to add to customer confi­ to problems. There also seems to have
hand. Ifthe initial process still does not
citizens, and understand that people
dence in the business. Surveys have been a decrease in customer confi­
settle the dispute, we offer arbitration
here place ahigh value on dealing with
shown that - all other things being dence, as borne out by surveys. We
and mediation services.
local folks they know and trust.
equal- consumers would choose a believe some of these attitudes may be
business displaying the BBB seal over related to the recession.
How does the BBB
one which doesn't. Does BBB just serve
,benefit existing busi­
How does the BBB retailers?
In arecession, are
help resolve disputes ' No. The BBB servesall ofMississip­
business complaints pi's business community. Acommon
The BBB provides a unique and between customers
misconception is that org:mizations
valuable service: a (non-governmen­ up or down?
and businesses?
like the BBB are mainly for retail busi­
tal) mechanism for voluntary self-regu­
Business complaint leVels have been nesses, because those rely heavily on
lation. We work every day on behalfof Our process is valuable because we
slowly rising. For example, our BBB one-to-one contact between customer
the business community to make our can serve as a third party which can
handled 2,990 complaints from August and business. But in truth all business­
marketplace a better one. It is in the help strip away the emotions involved
2008 through July 2009. For the same
es have customers, even if they are just
interest ofall businesses to support in the dispute and get down to the
12-month period ending in July 2010,
. other businesses. The same principles
these efforts. Businesses can alSb seek facts. What we are looking for is an .
we handled 3,086. That's a relatively
of customer service apply, whatever
accreditation through the BBB. open dialogue between the business
modest increase of a little over three
business you're in. We have a lot of
Accreditation means that a business is and consumer. Often, businesses see
percent. That trend has been holding retailers among our 1,800 BBB
agreeing to abide by the BBB Code of complaints as a negative. But anyone
for the past several years. Unfortunate-
Accredited Businesses, but
also a lot of wholesale busi­
nesses, manufacturers and
"business-to-business" com­
panies. A lot ofbusinesses
ntightnotbe aware that we
can help settle disputes
between businesses, as well as
those between businesses and
individual customers. ­
What are the key
· components of
business suc­
Although there is not a sin­
· gle "magic bullet" to business "
success, I have noticed some
commonalities among suc­
cessful businesses. For one
thing, they are highly princi­
pled, and start out with strong
ethical principles held by the
founder or leader. These val­
ues are allowed (and encour­
aged) to percolate to all levels
of the organization. Secondly,
· they share the power instead
of concentratingall the deci­
sion-making in a single indi­
vidual or small group of indi­
viduals. Ifpeople have a stake
in the company's future, they
are more likely to make good
decisions which will make the
company better in the long
run. Arelated trait is empow­
eringpersonnel who have
direct customer contact to
make adjustments (within
established limits, of course)
which go "above and beyond"
in taking care of dissatisfied
customers. One other thing,
which might be the most cru­
cial: amission. Everybody
needs to feel they are part of a
concern which makes a posi­
tive difference, whether they
are making million-dollar pur­
chases or cleaning toilets.
When your employees get in
the car after a day's work, do
they feel like they helped make
the world a better place today?
Havinga good sense of mis­
sion is a key element of suc­
cessful businesses.
How has the con­
cept of "big box"
stores changed
It has not directly caused us
to change significantly, other
than to affect our source of
support from the local busi­
ness community. There are
logistical issues involving
complaint handling, and some
reporting challenges. Since
BBB's are by nature local
org:mizations, we have long
been supported by and provid­
ed services to local businesses.
"Big Box" stores have their
good points: more selection,
better prices, keeping local
people employed. But there is
little doubt that the arrival of
big box stores has profoundly
affected the business commu­
nities we serve by reducing
the number of "Mom and Pop"
stores in our communities;
one has only to look at any
downtown area for evidence.
It is often difficult for smaller
businesses to compete, but we
don't believe that the arrival of
"bigbox" stores inevitably
kills local businesses. Here is
where the values we spoke of
earlier come into play. Right
here in Mississippi, we have
seen that local stores can sur­
vive the arrival ofwell­
resourced big box competitors
if they have established their
reputations based on solid val­
ues. Of course I am biased, but
I believe it's the best place in
the world to do business!
- Interview byPerspective
- EditorSid Salter