Due to business interaction with customers, there is always the potential of a dispute on the horizon. Sometimes it’s just a lack of communication, or a combination of circumstances that led to an issue arising and escalating. Other times, there are clear factors that need to be dealt with, and resolution sought. Disputes do arise from time to time between customers, suppliers, partners, employees – even other business owners and having your approach decided upfront can help you move through the process quicker.
So what do you do when an issue arises? To ensure you have the best chance of resolving and achieving the best outcomes, it’s important to prioritise the following:
Communication is key as clients and customers need to feel heard. Communication is the exchanging of information, not just the telling of one side. It’s important to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see things from their perspective. Listening is just as important as talking.
Get as much documentation as possible including invoices, phone logs, text messages, emails and reports. Encourage the customer or client to do the same. Having information to work with and discuss is crucial. Without it, we are just talking possibilities or thoughts over hard facts. Create a time line from the documents.
Know where you stand legally. Ideally, business owners should know where they stand before disputes tackling the dispute head on. It just allows you to keep things in perspective, get right into resolving the dispute, as quickly as possible without extra added stress or emotion and making an informed decision.
Take the lead
Be brave and address the issues head on. Dodging phone calls, emails and face to face meetings, can make the situation so much worse. The reality is that none of us like being in these tough situations, but at the end of the day, accepting responsibility and that the outcomes can be a positive can give you the confidence to deal with the dispute. It doesn’t have to be about blame.
In the event things get tough or you find yourself unable to manage the dispute yourself, there are options available to you. The great thing is that you don’t have to run to court. We can keep the dispute out of court by utilising mediation.
Remember, much of the stress around disputes is the fear of the other party is unreasonable, wants to take you for all you’re worth and won’t be satisfied with any outcome. Assuring the customer or client that finding a resolution without court or blame is your priority, can help keep excessive negative emotions at bay. It’s your brand, your business, your reputation, your future. The way you resolve disputes matter.