The customer is always right. Customers threatening to sue large conglomerates is nothing new. For big companies, the legal team can handle it without breaking a sweat. But for small business owners and startup entrepreneurs, a customer’s lawsuit could mark the end of their dreams.
To help you handle such a complicated situation, here are six things to note when dealing with customer lawsuits.
1. Identify where you stand.
Reflect on your innocence regarding the complaint. Make sure you’ve gathered and understood all the information present. Accept your part in the problem and identify if you’re guilty or not. By doing so, you’d have a clearer mind for making sound decisions.
Understanding where the customers are coming from will also help identify their goals. This would, in turn, provide you with more options for your course of action.
2. Identify the gravity of the threat.
Some file complaints out of sheer frustration. These people might settle easily if you hear them out. Some do it for financial gain. This kind of complaint can warrant a countersuit, especially if it involves defamation. And some people file lawsuits because they have truly been wronged. Distinguishing them apart is the key to handling this issue efficiently.
You should also know all the possible consequences that the complaints might lead to. That way, you’d be able to assess how damage can be done and how you can avoid it.
Pro-tip: Get them to file a written complaint. The best way to assess the gravity of the complaint is through getting information about the complainants and their full side of the story. Making them feel heard could make settlement easier. And in case it doesn’t, having a written copy of their first claims can be valuable evidence if ever the complaint turns into a messy lawsuit.
3. Actively look for a compromise.
Before it even gets bigger, make sure you’ve tried everything you can to find common ground where you can reach an understanding. Even if the customers’ claims aren’t legitimate, it could still damage your reputation. By actively looking for a compromise, you can show them how open and willing you are to help them.
This can be an opportunity for market growth. The power of social media relevancy can either cancel a business and its owner in an instant or make you trending and famous within a few hours. If you iron out the misunderstanding well enough, you can even get your customer back and expand to a potentially bigger market through your politics.
Pro-tip: Offer solutions instead of reconciliations. This will make you appear more helpful instead of someone who’s covering his tracks.
4. Settle quietly as fast as you can.
Remember to always look at the bigger picture. This is not only about the cost of defending yourself against a lawsuit but also about your sales losses if word gets out.
Settling as fast as you can before they talk to a lawyer might give you a chance to pay less than what they would ask for once they have a legal counsel backing them up. And getting it done swiftly is ideal since your branding stays intact and your operations won’t have to cease.
Pro-tip: Get the claimants to sign a non-disclosure agreement if possible. Nowadays, your business’s marketability is directly connected to your reputation. Make sure you keep it clean if you want to continue building your empire.
5. Be careful with your words.
The way you’ll respond would be detrimental to your safety. Some people will try to force you to react negatively to further their cause. No matter how frustrating it gets, do not let your anger blind you. Make sure that all the words you say are not aggressive. As stated above, you can easily get canceled on social media now. And social media is global. Be careful with how you speak and send messages because taking a screenshot of your statements can be easily done.
Pro-tip: Avoid reacting publicly online. Fighting with customers on social media, even if they are the ones in the wrong, will only make you look unprofessional. Hire an attorney that can inform you regarding the things that you can say instead.
6. Hire professionals.
You don’t have to do it on your own. You shouldn’t. It would be better to settle the complications without both parties relying on legal measures. But you can still do that while getting legal advice from your lawyers.
Always make sure to get everything on paper and let professionals assess them along with the whole situation. Sound legal advice from experts is priceless in situations like this.
Pro-tip: If the worst-case scenario happens and you end up getting imprisoned, opt for budget-friendly bail bond packages to lessen the expenses. Remember that lawsuits can take time and if you’re a small business owner, it can greatly affect you financially. Ensure that you still have enough funds to defend yourself in court.
Overall, getting professional help and settling as quietly as you can are the ideal ways of handling this situation. Being careful with your words, distinguishing threats, identifying your stand, and actively looking for solutions can also help. But the most important thing to do is avoid such complications as much as possible. As they say, prevention is always better than cure.