Characteristics of Effective Online Trustmark Programs
- Service & Complaints Guides
- A Practical Guide to Handling Consumer Complaints
- Best Practices in Handling Customer Complaints
- A Guide for Consumer Complaints Management
- 6 Steps to Achieve Customer Service Excellence
- The program covers the full range of consumer concerns, from provision of clear and adequate information to facilitate informed decisions through to personal information protection, transaction security and effective processes for contract formation, contract fulfillment and redress
- There is meaningful involvement of a wide range of stakeholders in the development and implementation of the program.
- The Trustmark administrators offer compensation to consumer (i.e. insurance is in place) when members do not comply (see, for example, the WebAssured program at http://www.webassured.com).
- There is adequate funding and logistical arrangements are in place to ensure the program runs properly.
- Staff are trained to provide customer service and complaints-handling and dispute resolution services.
- Merchants are evaluated before receiving the Trustmark. As a result, the risk of uncooperative merchants with poor complaints management processes joining is low.
- There are real incentives for merchant compliance, and disincentives for non-compliance, such as loss of use of the Trustmark or adverse publicity.
- There is an effective communications and publicity campaign about the program and how it operates.
- The program is free to consumers, and convenient to use.
- There are regular public information updates about the program.
- The program responds quickly.
- There is continuous communication with consumers throughout the process to keep them up to date.
- There is a time limit associated with each stage of the process that is made known to consumers.
- Regular review and monitoring (preferably by a third party) takes place to ensure that the program works and that continuous improvement occurs.
U.K. Consumer Organization Develops Consumer Complaints Management Initiative
The United Kingdom’s Consumers’ Association has developed Web Trader, a Consumer Complaints Management Trustmark program for online merchants. Web merchants agree to abide by a set of consumer protection commitments, and, when approved by the Consumer’ Association, can display the Web Trader logo on their Web sites. When problems arise, the Association helps consumers seek redress, and the merchant may lose the privilege of displaying the Web Trader logo. Consumer organizations in nine other European countries now operate Web Trader programs, and the program is looking to expand beyond Europe.
For more information on the Web Trader program, go to http://www.which.net.
Other Examples of Trustmark Programs
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has developed an online merchant reliability code with a seal. Approved merchants put a BBBOnLine logo on their Web sites that links to the BBB site so consumers can determine in advance which companies participate in the program and learn about redress mechanisms for when complaints are not resolved internally.
Canadian Code and Standard
Based on the Principles of Consumer Protection for Electronic Commerce, Industry Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs is leading a multistakeholder initiative to develop a code of good business practice for e-commerce that features preventive, internal complaints-handling and external dispute resolution elements. A standard based on the principles and code is also being developed by the Canadian Standards Association and the Bureau de Normalisation du Québec, with federal and provincial government, industry and consumer group participation. The code and standard are intended to be the basis for Trustmark programs.
- Market-based Consumer Complaints Management Initiatives
- Preventive Consumer Complaint Management Initiatives
- Internal Complaints-handling Initiatives
- External Private Dispute Resolution Initiatives
- Comprehensive Complaints Management Systems
- Characteristics of Effective Online Trustmark Programs
- Online Redress
- The Need for Effective Consumer Complaint Management Initiatives
- Consumer Complaint Management Initiatives and the Law
- Developing and Implementing Consumer Complaint Management Initiatives
- Elements of Successful Consumer Complaint Management Initiatives
- Where Can I Get More Help?