TRADE LEADER’S GUIDE: The complaint  path- recommendations for traders Part 2

In PART 1 of this series of the Trader Leaders’ Guide, we explained that in order to successfully manage your complaints, you need to have a well-developed policy for their acceptance and processing.

When you accept a complaint, you start a kind of negotiation process with your client. Depending on the way the complaint is received, the communication is oral or written.

In negotiations on simple cases, the oral form has no analogue. It is fast, convenient, allows for a detailed explanation of the case. For this purpose, however, you need employees, yours or an external company representing your call center, to be well trained for the specifics of your business, as well as to work with difficult customers, vent emotions, to have the necessary authority to making decisions in case of compensation, discounts, any adjustments in the terms of the transaction.

More complex cases require writing, sharing documents, presenting evidence. As a trader, you can choose to have this happen through your email address, contact form, or outsource the task.

The advantages of your own channel are that it is more direct. But if the dispute deepens, or the client's patience is exhausted, negotiations may fail. Then the client is faced with a number of options that will allow him/her to express his/her dissatisfaction, to express negative emotions, to seek his/her right:

  • To make public statements against the company in forums, social networks, word of mouth
  • To file a complaint to the CPC
  • To file a lawsuit

All these reactions lead to aggravation of the relations between the disputants, the certain loss of the client, to the loss of resources, to fines and reputational damages for the company.

There is a fourth way that has the opposite effect, i.e. saves resources, minimizes costs, prevents fines and other damages and preserves the relationship with the customer. Unfortunately, it is not very well known in Bulgaria, both for consumers and traders. The word goes about alternative dispute resolution (ADR), where with the help of an independent, third party, i.e. ADR body, the negotiations continue, the negative emotions are calmed down and a solution is sought that satisfies both parties. This type of bodies in Bulgaria are the conciliation commissions of the CPC and the NAIS ADR center.

Conciliation commissions of the CPC

These commissions are general and sectoral. The general commissions cover all sectors of the economy, incl. tourism. The sectoral commissions are in the field of electricity, water supply and sewerage services, electronic communications and postal services, road transport, railways. transport, etc. In these committees, the end result of the dispute is a recommendation for a decision. It is not binding on both parties, each of them has the right not to accept it.

 

NAIS ADR Center

Currently, this is the only alternative to the CPC conciliation commissions and the only body that deals with consumer disputes exclusively and only online. This is done through the NAIS Center's own online platform and the EU's online ODR platform.

Negotiations are supported by a third, specially trained, independent and impartial mediator. It aims not to make decisions in the dispute, but to stimulate the parties to propose them, to unite the disputants around their common interests and to ventilate the emotions. The mediator is obliged to maintain the confidentiality of the information shared with her.

The ADR procedure has many advantages over seeking redress through the courts. ADR saves costs, it is fast, efficient, takes no more than 90 days, protects the company from reputational damage, it is cheaper than any CPC fine or legal proceedings, and is even free for complainants.

After a complaint is received in the online platform of NAIS, nais.bg, it is checked for admissibility and within 24 hours, if it meets the criteria described in the general conditions of the center, it is forwarded to the trader. If he agrees to consider the complaint, he can proceed either to direct negotiations or directly to mediation. If he has already conducted negotiations, either through the NAIS online platform or in his own channel, he chooses the mediation option. In the event that it decides to hold direct negotiations first, at each stage, either party may request a switch to mediation by pressing a button on the negotiation screen. The trader can let the system automatically appoint a mediator or appoint one herself. When the mediator agrees to lead the ADR procedure, the parties are automatically notified by the system and invite to start the discussion in the form of a chat. If the user does not agree with the choice of mediator, doubts his impartiality and independence, he can ask for his recusal. This may be requested by either party at any time during the mediation.

The trader and the complainant participate in the dispute in a common chat window for discussion between them and the mediator, or a separate chat window only with the mediator. If some of the information shared with the mediator is sensitive and the party does not want it to be shared with the other participant, it is enough to inform the mediator and she will be obliged to keep it confidential. Each of the participants takes a stand on the dispute when he or she is able, and the other participants receive a message in their e-mails that he/she has recorded something in the chat.

When the parties unite around a decision, the mediator prepares it electronically directly in the system, it generates a proposal automatically, informs them by e-mail and they agree with it in the general chat screen. If the parties insist, it can become enforceable through notarization.

The practice of NAIS shows that when the trader and the consumer have had the will to make an effort to reach an agreement, they comply with the commitments made, without the need for such an obligation.

In the EU online platform, once a complaint has been submitted, the system informs the trader electronically. The latter selects a body to deal with the dispute. The list of options for Bulgaria includes the conciliation commissions of the CPC and NAIS. Once the company has chosen a body, the complainant must agree with it or propose another body. The difference with the NAIS online platform here is that there is no common chat screen, but there is a possibility to schedule virtual or face-to-face meetings. Also, there is an option for NAIS to offer you the case to consider in its own online platform, if it deems that it will be more convenient for all parties.

Be sure to read the first part of this article.

Follow the next publications from this series, dedicated to the best practices in dealing with complaints, from the section "Trade Leaders' Guide" on the NEWS page of nais.bg, as well as in the profiles of NAIS on LinkedIn and Facebook. In the next publication we will look at the problems related to technical systems, process management and the delegation of rights and responsibilities, or in short, problems related to the internal organization.

Published on 29.09.2021 Back to news