Time and time again we see situations where a debt has been left for so long that the client and customer relationship has broken down. Usually, this happens because someone is not dealing with complaints or customer service issues and because of this disputes and problems are left to fester.
Often many thousands of dollars are left sitting on accounts ledgers because the business does not have adequate complaint policies in place.
One of the biggest problems is when the dissatisfied customer has to employ another service provider to fix issues that have not been rectified, this is when it becomes really difficult as a debt collector to convince the customer to pay, as they have now incurred double the costs.
Dispute resolution is one of the main issues we deal with at our agency and honestly a good percentage of debts could have been avoided. A simple paragraph in your documentation or a process customers can follow on your website regarding complaints resolution is all that is needed.
Preventing debts from being left to fester.
Both parties have the rights when it comes to disputes, there are two main areas that cover small businesses, the first is the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) (formerly the Trade Practices Act 1974). Further to these the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is the national government agency which promotes compliance with the CCA and, where necessary, takes legal action against businesses that break the law.
If you are a business owner the ACL automatically provides your customers with a basic set of consumer guarantees when they purchase your goods or services.
Your customers have a right to have a problem with a product or service remedied if it fails to meet the guarantee.
Further to this, you have a right to remedy a problem with a product or service, this means a customer cannot refuse your offer to remedy a problem and employ another person for the remedy.
Having said this, policies on time frames and documentation when a job has been finalised are imperative to protect both you and your customers. Having documentation in place for your customers to sign when a job is completed that they are satisfied with the job provided makes it clear for both you and your customer that there is closure at the end of the job. In the event your customer is not happy with the job, you also need a specified time frame and form for your customer to fill out and then an outline of how you will remedy the problem.
By taking these simple steps before any disputes result and save you a great deal of pain in the long run.
If your staff understand the process then it becomes a simple process to follow to ensure customer satisfaction and your customer relationships are not left to fester but allowed to flourish as they should.
Please find a here an excellent document that explains the rights and obligations of both parties and an example of a disputes resolution form you can use is your organisation.