With the anonymity of the Internet and scams circulating online, it can be difficult for businesses to prove credibility online. Websites, social networking sites, online advertisements and emails are all e-communications that businesses can use to help build consumer trust. Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington establishes eight staples of online reliability:
- Be open and honest. The key to building trust online is transparency. Openly identify the nature, location, and ownership of the business. List specific contact people on all business licensing records and website registrations.
- Be available and responsive. Add contact information to online ads; include multiple - if not all - contact options, such as addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and fax lines. Designate addresses as physical locations or post office boxes. Always include business names on voicemail greetings; also, ensure that caller IDs display real business phone numbers, not blocked or anonymous calls.
- Clearly disclose all policies, guarantees and procedures. Provide shipping details, including known delays or inventory shortages. Allow consumers to review and confirm transactions before sales are complete. Post-purchase, provide receipts summarizing transaction details. Abide by applicable product labeling requirements; visit business.gov for resources.
- Safeguard privacy and protect data. If collecting payment, personal history or other sensitive information - ensure that it is transmitted securely. Research Transport Layer Security or Secure Sockets Layer certificate providers. Protect data and avoid data breach threats; visit BBB's Data Security - Made Simpler site for free tools on securing information.
- Properly dispose of sensitive data. Safely discard expired paperwork at BBB's free document shredding events. Check the records retention schedule and www.akorww.bbb.org/secure-your-id for more details.
- Respect customer contact preferences. If customers say "do not call" or opt-out from receiving correspondence, promptly honor requests. Never share customer contact information with affiliates or outside parties, unless authorized to do so; if permitted, get written consent.
- Subscribe to BBB's Code of Business Practices. Visit bbb.org for more tips.