Mount Vernon: SFDC Seminars Help Educate Businesses

Mount Vernon: SFDC Seminars Help Educate Businesses

Seminar addresses online ratings.

From left: Edythe Kelleher, executive director, Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, and Kelsey Owen, director of Communications and Public Affairs, the Better Business Bureau

From left: Edythe Kelleher, executive director, Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, and Kelsey Owen, director of Communications and Public Affairs, the Better Business Bureau Photo by Jerry Fill.

Local business people learned the benefits of using social media as an online marketing tool during last week’s Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation (SFDC)-hosted education seminar.

Kelsey Owen, director of communications and public affairs of the Better Business Bureau of Metro Washington and Eastern Pennsylvania discussed “Yelp Blues Got You Down? — Improve your online ratings and deal with trolls.”

SFDC’s mission is ”to promote the development and planning of the roads, mass transit, development, and business success of the Route 1 corridor.” Tracking progress of roads and building developments has become standard operating procedure for the SFDC. However, more recently it has expanded their online presence and invited members and others to attend business education roundtable subjects.

Owen illustrated through her presentation that BBB has a widely respected online business review and rating program. The BBB provides in depth business review and follow up coverage for participating businesses. According to its most up to date statistics, 5.3 million BBB business reviews were performed nationally.

Owen agreed that other online platforms offer business evaluation programs such as Yelp and Google Alert. However, she believes that the track record of the free BBB Business Review program is an especially effective and popular program. Among the features, the BBB program follows up on business reviews. It asks if the complaint is resolved. When there is an unresolved complaint, the BBB will follow up by contacting local government agencies and/or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about poor performance.

In her presentation Owen offered these remarks about the importance of online business reviews in establishing trust and confidence in a business product and/or service in the contemporary Online consumer marketplace:

“Today’s consumers prefer learning about your business from other customers — not you. A recent Nielsen survey showed us that 92 percent of consumers are turning to the opinions of friends and family over all other forms of advertising … And 88 percent of consumers trust online business reviews.”

“Social media can be a great tool for generating real conversations about your brand and building trust with customers and prospects. Instead of using social media as just another channel to promote your business, use it to build a community that believes in what you stand for.”

“Getting a bad review isn’t the end of the world. It’s how you respond to it that matters. A recent survey by Mintel, a market research firm, showed us that 57 percent of consumers are actually suspicious of brands that only have positive reviews.”

“People are not looking for perfection online. What they are really looking for is humanity and genuine responses, so a negative review can be a great opportunity to respond in a positive and transparent manner. Turn the comment around and highlight your strengths while also making the critic feel heard and acknowledged. Remember, help your positive reviews shine by always following up and answering your negative reviews in a timely, transparent, and honest way. Your future customers will be glad you did.”


BBB at a Glance: 2015 Annual Statistics

10,997,465: Total number of inquiries and website visitors

$347 billion marketplace transaction dollars (via processed complaints)

Conducted 170 investigations into business practices

3.5 million business reviews viewed

64,456 complaints processed

412,773 customer reviews and complaint details read

82 percent of the complaints the BBB received were resolved

Contact Info:

Kelsey Owen, Director, Communications & Public Affairs

Better Business Bureau serving Metro Washington DC & Eastern Pennsylvania

1411 K Street NW 10th fl.

Washington, DC 20005