In recent years, consumers and businesses have asked the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to create an option for customers to share feedback on business interactions. As a result, BBB serving Greater Maryland launched verified Customer Reviews on Jan. 5.

Differing from BBB’s traditional complaint resolution service, BBB Customer Reviews can reflect positive encounters, have no effect on a business’s BBB rating, do not seek a specific resolution and have a wider range of acceptable subject matter; a customer who files a formal BBB complaint may not post a Customer Review regarding the same experience.

Although Customer Reviews won’t affect a company’s rating, the BBB system built and tested a comprehensive process to vet and monitor Customer Reviews. Businesses should start watching their inboxes, because as part of the process, BBB will attempt to confirm the individual posting the review is indeed a customer. Personal data and inappropriate text will not be published. Customers are required to provide BBB with an active e-mail address so that bogus reviews are avoided.

Businesses will have an opportunity to submit replies, which also will be published. Reviewers will be able to add subsequent comments to their reviews at any time or reply to a business’s comment. Here’s how the process works:

  • Customer submits a review
  • Customer receives an e-mail and must click to validate e-mail address
  • Business is notified of review by e-mail or postcard
  • Business has three options: respond, do nothing, deny

If the business provides a response to the review, the review is then redacted, if necessary, and the review and response are posted immediately.

If no comment is received, the review is posted after seven days.

If the business denies the reviewer was a customer, BBB alerts the customer and asks for evidence of a marketplace interaction. The review is not posted unless or until evidence is provided to BBB.

A business may casually encourage customers to write a review. If the customer was offered an incentive for his/her review, those details must be disclosed in the review. Mass reviews or reviews received through automated platforms are not acceptable.

If you receive a customer review notification and have questions, or if you’d like to learn more, contact BBB at 410-400-4BBB.

Angie Barnett is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland. She can be reached at 410-347-3990 and [email protected].