I want to share a story of a client who started to have client problems. This particular client is a business coach, and she had a problem with customers or clients complaining and saying that the system that she taught did not actually work for them. We worked out that her system was not at fault, rather her clients were not following the process that she taught (little wonder they were not getting results they hoped for).
It turns out that somehow they expected to be able to be as amazing as she is, but they weren’t following the steps and techniques that she taught (and followed in her own business). When I looked at her terms and conditions, I figured out she did not have anything in them about expectations relating to what work her clients needed to put in. She didn’t say what she expected of her people, it just comes down to simple communication.
So how is this something that a three year old could get right?
When my son was three years old, he wanted a particular toy that his sister was playing with. There was no way in the universe she was going to give it up. But he made a little deal with her, and he made the terms very, very clear and he set his expectations. He took another toy and offered her that one in exchange for the one that he wanted. She was happy because she knew the deal, she knew what she was getting and she knew what she had to give back.
This is all that terms and conditions are. In your business, what are you giving to the client, and what are they giving back? It doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to be drafted by a lawyer, as long as:
- It is really clear and makes clear what they have to do and what you have to do.
- It must deal with money, how much are they going to pay you, when are they going to pay you?
- It should also deal with what happens if something goes wrong.
In my son’s example, if my daughter refused to give her toy up, my son was going to take his toy back. Your T & Cs need to deal with what happens if it goes wrong. What happens if, when coaching the client does not follow the steps you teach? Are you still entitled to be paid even though they’re not getting the results because they are not following your steps? What happens if the customer does not like the goods you shipped them? Or they claim what you sold them does not work, or never arrived?
What happens if your client ruins the goods you provided? For example, I have a client who is an electrician, and he installs massive fridge-freezers for grocery stores. What happens if one of his clients doesn’t pay? Can he go and take that back? Who is responsible for the stock that spoils if he takes back a freezer? All of that needs to be worked out in the terms and conditions. It really is easy to avoid (or at least minimise) customer complaints just by setting things out clearly in advance. If a three year old can come up with clear terms of a deal, then you as a business owner can certainly do it too.
Make sure that it is clear and that it is in writing. Because if it’s not in writing, then people might misunderstand each other. Getting your terms and conditions clear, is something that can help avoid customer complaints, because customers know exactly what is expected of them and what the consequences will be if things go wrong or if they do not play their part.
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Cathryn Warburton is the Legal Lioness. With more than 2 decades of experience behind her, she legally
bulletproofs her client’s businesses and protects them from business bullies. She is a multi-international award winning lawyer, trade mark attorney, patent attorney, author, mentor and keynote speaker.