Monday, July 6, 2015

Internet Safety: How You Can Protect Your Small Business From Internet Crimes


Small businesses are becoming more frequently targeted in Internet based crimes by hackers who are increasingly sophisticated and threats that are more widespread. It’s easy for criminals to hack a small business's computer system, if it has a weak defense. Putting an Internet security plan in place will help lessen your risk and prevent criminals from accessing sensitive information like banking numbers, email accounts, customer information, financial records, etc.  

We’ve compiled a few tips and resources to help you establish cybersecurity precautions for your small business.

  • Train your employees.
    • Set clear expectations and rules regarding what can and cannot be installed or downloaded on work computers.
    • Make sure employees are backing up their work regularly.
    • Facilitate password changes on a regular basis and make sure employees know what constitutes a secure password.
    • Employees should be able to recognize suspicious links and emails and know not to open them.

  • Assess your computer network and formulate a cybersecurity plan. 
    • The FCC offers a Small Biz Cyber Planner that helps businesses discover and protect themselves from “growing cyber threats.”
    • Encrypt any confidential information.
    • Update your security software regularly. Bugs, viruses and malware are ever evolving. In order for your computer to remain secure, you need to stay up to date with security software.

  • Protect your customers by having and following a privacy policy. 
    • If you use the Internet to communicate with customers and collect their information, you could be putting them at risk. 
    • The FCC offers some best practices which can help your small business safeguard clients from online risks.
    • Keep any data retention to a minimum. Unless you need the information to deliver the product, don’t ask for it. The less sensitive information you have, the less risk to your business and to customers.
    • Talk to your customers and make sure they understand what information you need and why. If you keep track of purchase history to help make product recommendations, explain this. Additionally, try to make policies as simple and clear as possible. Oftentimes consumers skim through the fine print. Break it down into pieces of information that will be easily digested.


For more information you can trust, visit us at bbb.org/wisconsin, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hiring Tips for Small Businesses

Running a small business can often be stressful and especially difficult to do all on your own. It’s important to surround yourself with trustworthy and hardworking employees in order to grow your business and take some of the pressure off yourself.  
Here are some tips for hiring the best employees. Find the Right Fit – Look for someone who complements your work style. You don’t necessarily want them to agree with everything you do, but you also don’t want them challenging you every step of the way. Find someone who is a nice balance you trust their opinions but they have their own ideas as well.

Take Your Time - Allow plenty of time to find the right personnel for your company and don’t just settle because you are in a time crunch. If you are desperate for extra help and don’t have time to search through all the applications and websites, consider using a temp agency. This way you don’t have to commit to anyone in particular and they may end up working out for you anyway!

Define the Position - Make sure you know exactly what you need the new hire to do. Clearly articulate their responsibilities and what you expect of them, as well as what you can offer them (benefits, vacation, etc). This is a two-way street, you want them to be happy working for you so they give you their best work. Consider being more flexible either with hours or allowing some time to work from home. This makes your company more desirable.  

Search Outside the Box - Treat everyone you meet and speak with as a potential candidate. This doesn’t mean you are constantly interviewing but you never know who you will meet that might be perfect for a position in your company. Keep track of top contenders and their attributes – they may not work for your current needs but down the road something may open up where they are an ideal fit. Also, don’t put all the pressure on yourself or one person in the office to be the sole recruiter. Allow everyone on staff to keep an eye out for potential new hires as they already have a great idea of what it takes to work for your company.

Are you a business more than a year old? Becoming a BBB Accredited Business will help potential employees see that your company is a trustworthy and reputable business.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What to Do When a Customer Complains

We have all heard the mantra, "the customer is always right".  While this sentiment comes from a good place and encourages a positive attitude towards customers, it is quite simply, not always true. In fact, it can actually reward customers for their demanding and rude behavior. 

Encountering a rude customer, or a customer who wants something you cannot give them, is not an uncommon occurrence for business owners. It's important to develop a strategy when faced with these types of situations. It can mean the difference between a customer feeling satisfied or promising to never do business with you again.

  • Stay calm. No matter how angry or rude the customer is you never want to react similarly, as it could escalate things and make matters worse.  
  • Be a good listener. Try not to interrupt the customer until they are finished, as this will likely make them more frustrated.
  • Show the customer you were listening by summarizing their words back to them. Then ask questions to further clarify their complaint.  
  • Apologize. Regardless of who is at fault, a simple "We're sorry you've had such a frustrating experience" can go a long way.
  • Tell the customer what you can do. You may not be able to give the customer exactly what they want, but by offering an alternative suggestion you are showing the customer you would still like to do what you can to make things right.  
  • Know when to walk away. Sometimes there is no way to satisfy an angry customer.  If this is the case, all you can do is offer an apology and step away from the conversation.

Something else to consider: living by "the customer is always right" mantra can also be bad for your employees and the general company moral. Your employees come to work each day and help make your product what it is. Make sure your company policies support the employees responsible for handling customer grievances. They should feel respected and empowered. 

For more information you can trust, visit us at bbb.org/wisconsin, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn
. 




Friday, May 29, 2015

BBB is Giving You Leads for Business – Are You Taking Advantage?

As a BBB Accredited Business, you can participate in our Request a Quote program. When a potential customer is looking at your company report (BBB Business Review) online, they have the option to Request a Quote or proposal for your product or services. You can also put a link to the Request a Quote option on your website to easily get leads from people interested in your product or service. (Contact the BBB Member Hotline for more information at (414) 847-6060) 

Once the customer submits the request, BBB will send an email or text message notifying you of the request. From there, you can easily contact the potential customer, assess their needs and work with them to fulfill the request. This is also a great reason to encourage potential customers to look you up with the BBB. From there, they can request a quote for your product or services and, after the transition, can write a positive review of the product or services provided! 

Here is an example of how the BBB Request a Quote program works:


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Identity Theft Recovery Plan Helps Businesses

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently came out with a all inclusive resource for consumers and businesses dealing with identity theft. Here are the details and steps your business can take to help your staff and your customers. 

Maybe it’s a suspicious tax document flagged by your HR staff or a customer concern about an unauthorized charge. Identity theft can reveal itself in many ways. Regardless of the tip-off, there’s a new one-stop federal resource – IdentityTheft.gov – to help people report and recover from ID theft.
Last year, the FTC got more than 330,000 complaints related to ID theft. You probably received some, too, from employees, customers, family, and friends. In those initial jarring hours after people find out it’s happened to them, what they really need is a recovery plan – and that’s just what IdentityTheft.gov offers. 
It starts with four essential do-it-now steps to take at the first sign of identity theft. Once people have their bearings, the site walks them through “what to do next” actions, complete with checklists and sample letters.

Why the new approach? Last fall, the President signed an Executive Order calling on the FTC and other agencies to streamline resources to make it easier for ID theft victims to recover. By breaking it down step-by-step, IdentityTheft.gov connects people to government agencies and other groups essential to that process, including the IRS, Social Security Administration, local consumer protection offices, and credit bureaus.
And there’s more to come. Future enhancements to the site will let people create a customized plan based on their specific experience.
Speaking of steps, here are three things your business can do to help.
1.   Tell employees about IdentityTheft.gov. Victims of ID theft spend hours online and on the phone just trying to get accurate information. By organizing key resources systematically, IdentityTheft.gov can put them in the fast lane on the road to recovery. Consider naming a trusted member of your HR team to talk to employees about ID theft prevention and IdentityTheft.gov.
2.   Publicize IdentityTheft.gov to your customers.  Suppose a consumer contacts your company about an unauthorized charge or unapproved account. Many businesses already have a protocol in place for employees to follow. What about adding the simple step of mentioning IdentityTheft.gov?
3.   Talk up identity theft prevention and recovery in your community.  Everyone knows someone who has been the victim of ID theft. That’s why identity theft prevention and recovery is a perfect pet project for your industry association or community group. Start by taking the simple step of sharing IdentityTheft.gov in your professional circles and on your social networks.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Why Customer Reviews are Good for Business

The recently released Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal.com indicates how customer reviews impact the buyer’s decision.   

Key findings include:

  • 88% of consumers have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business
  • 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 85% of consumers say they read up to 10 reviews before they feel they can trust a business
  • 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 57% of consumers will visit a local business website after reading a positive review


Customer reviews are now posted on BBB Business Reviews to allow the online community insight into a customer’s experience.   Any business with a BBB Business Review can receive and respond to customer reviews.   Every business is also notified of the posted customer review by BBB and has 48 hours to respond to the review and verify that the customer was a client, before it is posted to their online report.

Here are a few reasons why customer reviews are a great tool for consumers and businesses:


The reviewer must verify their email address.  

This extra step dissuades anonymous reviewers, holding the customer accountable for their response.

Businesses also verify the customer. 

If a business claims the reviewer was not an actual customer, they must provide proof of a transaction, in order for the review to be posted to the company report.

Businesses may respond to the review. 

All reviews and responses are published and transparent.

Customer reviews will include positive feedback.  

This allows positive experiences to be posted to a business report, not just negative interactions.

Customer reviews give you opinions you may not otherwise want to hear.   

By submitting a review, the customer gives up the right to post a complaint.  This gives people an option to post an opinion, good or bad.


Accredited Businesses may also encourage their customers to post their experience on their BBB Business Review by installing our customer review seal on their website.   The seal is available through the exclusive accredited business login on bbb.org/wisconsin.  For assistance, live chat is available M-F on our website.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Announcing the BBB Torch Award for Ethics Finalists

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau Foundation Center for Character Ethics is pleased to announce the finalists for its prestigious 2015 Torch Awards for Ethics.
The finalists are (in alphabetical order): 
  • 4Imprint (Oshkosh)
  • Action Organizing Services, LLC  (Milwaukee)
  • Busch Precision (Milwaukee)
  • Harley-Davidson Motor Company (Milwaukee)
  • Hunger Task Force (Milwaukee)
  • Innovative Services, Inc. (Green Bay)
  • InVision Business Development & Marketing, LLC (Madison)
  • Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling (Milwaukee)
  • Realty Executives Integrity (Cedarburg)
  • Sure-Dry Basement Systems, Inc. (Menasha)
  • Thrivent Financial (Appleton)
The BBB’s Torch Award for Ethics is a statewide competition that honors companies and charities who do business in Wisconsin, and that demonstrate excellence in ethical practices, service excellence, reputation, honest advertising, peer recognition, management practices and employee training in ethical behavior. This is the eleventh award program by the Wisconsin BBB Foundation, a non-profit organization. Award categories are based on the size of the company.
In today’s business environment, trust and ethical practices are of the utmost importance and for this reason companies such as these deserve to stand out and be recognized, “ said Ran Hoth, CEO and President of the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin. “The BBB congratulates all of the distinguished and outstanding finalists.”
Winners will be announced at the BBB’s Torch Awards luncheon ceremony on Thursday, May 14, 2015 in the Garage at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. Richard R. Pieper, Sr., non-executive chairman of PPC Partners, Inc. is our Keynote Speaker. Ted Perry of WITI Fox 6 News is the Master of Ceremonies.
Come support these strong Wisconsin businesses! Join the BBB along with past, current, and future ethics award winners at this special awards banquet. A surprise announcement will also be made as we reveal the first-time, “CEO Leader of Integrity Award.” You don’t want to miss it!
The cost of the luncheon is $65 per person or $500 for a corporate table of eight. Students pay $25 per person. For more information go to ourwebsite or contact Carole Milos at cmilos@wisconsin.bbb.org or 414-847-6064. Click here to see past winners.
The Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin is a non-profit organization, whose mission is to promote business ethics through self-regulation.