As a customer-centric company, at LiveChat we spent a lot of time digging into how to prepare a good and efficient agreement between us and our customers. It took a lot of time and effort to find and develop our own way to do so, and, because of that, we’d love to share this knowledge with you.
If you run a business and you need to deal with questions concerning your standard agreement/Terms of Service, keep reading. Below, you’ll find some dos and don’ts of negotiating agreements and how we manage a ‘no-changes’ policy.
1. Define your policy approach
If you deliver your product(s) or service to a big group of customers, you may want to take a similar approach as we have by focusing on the constant improvement of the documents. By doing this, you can avoid any amendments to the documents in the future.
2. You only want to use your standard documents, but your customers want to sign their own
This is an old and well-known conflict. You, as an entrepreneur/business owner, have your own documents, and your customers want to sign their own. What should you do?
First of all, don’t panic. From our experience, there are two main reasons why customers ask you to sign their documents. One reason might be that they don’t understand yours, and they feel lost or confused. The second main reason could be that they have internal standards they have to comply with. There is no right or wrong in this regard. Both you and your customers are correct in offering your own set of documents. The choice depends on your policy as described above.
3. You’ve made your decision and you want to only work with your company’s documents. What should you do?
Remember that what people experience goes way beyond your application’s look and feel. Your company’s documents give your customers an impression, too. Now, if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s your challenge to make your set of documents clear enough to get the approval of your customers.
Most importantly, remember that it’s not a war. You can only truly understand the motivations of your customer if you’re able to understand what they want to accomplish. This approach will also show you what’s missing in your set of documents.
Your customers’ have multiple legal documents with a lot of compliance obligations, ambitions, and must-haves. That’s why you should try to keep your documents flexible. You should also look at it from different angles. Listen to your customers and adapt your documents. No one is saying it has to be an ‘on-demand’ service, but you definitely can learn from your customer’s needs and improve your documents in general.
4. How do we manage this at LiveChat?
At LiveChat, we immensely value quality. That’s why we routinely work on our documents in order to provide our customers the very best version of them that’s possible. We have a ‘no-changes’ policy, but we also have a ‘listen and improve globally’ policy. Our business model is very defined (SaaS), and we work on a large scale. That’s why we’re aware of the risks that come along with customizing the documentation each time. The fact is that the maintenance of such documents is difficult and not efficient. At the end of the day, those types of documents provide no transparency for the customers. To give a voice to our customers, we’ve implemented some simple improvements in the company to deliver the best possible version:
- Our staff knows the basic legal requirements. We make sure to explain to our Sales/Support/Success teams the meaning of our documents so that you can get reliable information the very first time you get in touch with us.
- We’re here to listen. Our legal team is always happy to explain, be on a call, or to make sure that you get our documents as we drafted them.
- We’re always open to suggestions. We know nothing about these documents is black or white. We’re open to hearing about your needs, to making global changes, and to adjusting things in the future.
There is no recipe for the right approach to customized agreements when it comes to customer/business owner relationships. We want to encourage you to look for a good compromise and to always have your business in mind. Need some inspiration? Check our legal section to see how we manage our documents.