In the immortal words of Sally Fields, “You love us. You really love us.” Or… paraphrased at least. Such is our Valentine’s Day hug to our friends over at the Better Business Bureau and their recognition of Outskirts Press as an A+ caliber business in terms of business ethics and customer service.
The grade point system the BBB uses is largely dependent upon a formula that, for simplicity’s sake, I will reduce to this equation: The number of customers/divided by/ the number of complaints. Sure, there are other variables, such as the company’s responsiveness to officially registered complaints, and other factors, but ultimately, the larger the gap between your total number of customers and your total number of complaints, the better your score is. Makes sense, right?
So this may sound strange for me to mention, especially in light of our A+ rating, but there is a flaw with the BBB’s system and it stems from this basic fact: it was created before the Internet, during a time when the acquisition of new customers took months instead of seconds. Since the formula being used by the BBB to determine grades uses variables that can change drastically within 24 hours, you can see how it quickly becomes out of date. This is why, if you closely watch any Internet business’ BBB ranking, it often slowly declines over time since the number of customers being calculated by the BBB stays constant (because they don’t update their records as quickly as Internet businesses acquire more customers), while the number of complaints rises statistically in accordance with the actual number of customers.
For example, until January 2013, the BBB hadn’t updated our records at Outskirts Press for years… and in that span of time, our customer base basically doubled over the numbers they were using for their formula. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see how that could negatively affect a BBB grade, based upon their equation, if the top number of the equation stays erroneously static while the bottom number continues to dynamically climb. Or… maybe it DOES take a mathematician to understand that. But I’m an English major, and that flaw in their system has always bothered me.
Nevertheless, thank you to the BBB for updating their records to reflect our growth over the past several years, and bringing our grade to its accurate reflection of the self publishing industry. And speaking of which, Valentine’s Day love also goes out to Top Consumer Reviews, who also has Outskirts Press as the #1 self publishing company. More on that next time…