I am a fan of John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on HBO.  I find myself laughing frequently.  I also find the subject matter something that applies to businesses many times.  This last report on credit reporting was of a particular interest, not just because it was about credit reporting, but because it shed light on dispute resolution. You can watch here:

The credit reporting agencies have been mandated to create a dispute resolution process for consumers in case their credit reports are incorrect.   In fact all companies should create a dispute resolution process.

Today there are many ways for a consumer to complain— Twitter, Facebook and social media sites, then add in conventional methods of email, letters and phone calls.  With all the biggest issue is reputation.

Companies need to consider what their complaint process will be.  Is there a form to complete?  How many days will the process last? Is there one person or a few assigned to the task?  What does the negotiation look like and what guarantees do you want to live up to?

If direct negotiation does not work, then what?  Will you use an intermediary?  Is this process solely online with a chat?

As you can see you do need a methodology in place.  A form is a good place to start with name, contact information and nature of the issue and how the consumer would like a response.  A time period should be in place to resolve the issue- up to fourteen days may be needed if you need further information.   Negotiation training may be useful, too.

This also gives opportunity to make a list of the common complaints.  The one complaint for lawyers is their inability to get back to clients quickly. I am constantly working on methods to provide quick and efficient service.

At what point, and this may be a price point, do you want to involve mediation?  You may feel confident with issues below $10,000, but anything greater may bring too much pressure to resolve.

True North Business Consulting can help you create your organization dispute resolution police and help with negotiation training.

Cynthia Pasciuto is an attorney, consultant, mediator and educator in Massachusetts who has taught at Bentley University, NIWH and NESA.