We close out the year on a challenging note, as South Africa will spend the next 2 weeks under the level 3 lockdown regulations due to the second wave of Covid-19.
This adjustment leaves all business owners with little cause for celebration, as the impact of Covid-19 has changed the business landscape as we know it.
Granted that the adjusted level 3 rules and regulations aim to keep the economy open as far as possible, we must recognise that the conventional way of doing business has changed. For example, most business entrepreneurs are being required to digitally transform their business by going online; in-person interaction is limited on all fronts for the foreseeable future and customers want more value for less as they cut down on their spending habits. With all these changes, the business entrepreneur’s objectives remain the same, as he/she needs to make a profit and mitigate risk.
Given that there is a new way of doing business, you need to ensure that you stay ahead of the curve by being legally digitally geared to face round two of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Recognising the new normal, how does one maintain the customer relationship and build customer trust with a lack of physical presence?
Well, depending on the type of industry you work in, or services you offer, having a digital presence is an excellent way to establish and build customer trust.
Although going digital is not a new concept, it is a tool that can be used to incorporate legal methods which promote transparency on how your business functions, thereby creating an element of trust relating to the services offered – this can be achieved by having bespoke website terms and conditions.
For some business entrepreneurs, having website terms and conditions that appropriately reflect their business model and how they do business can be a bit overwhelming, as they have no idea how or where to start.
Certainly, the wrong place to start would be by copying the website terms and conditions from another businesses website. This is risky, especially in circumstances where a dispute may arise. You cannot rely on those website terms and conditions in court, due to a potential copyright infringement.
The primary purpose of having website terms and conditions is to ensure your business is protected, as it governs the relationship with the customer. Some of these terms and conditions which you can expect to see are the following:
- Scope of Work
- Commercial Terms (ordering and purchasing process)
- Payment Terms
- Representations and Warranties
- Privacy and Data Protection
- Indemnity and Liability
- Dispute Resolution
- Applicable Laws
A well thought out and drafted website terms and conditions provides certainty regarding the contracting parties’ obligations. It also minimises the likelihood of disputes and problems arising, such as claims based on misrepresentation or misleading information.
It can also be used as a marketing and branding tool to enhance your business’s professional image, thereby building trust with the customer.
From the outset, if the customer understands the level of service it can expect to receive, they will have peace of mind that his/her service requirements will be satisfied by a professional provider that renders honest services for fair remuneration. In that case, it will be an easy decision for the customer to go with your business.
With that in mind, does your business have a digital presence which enables customers to get in touch with you? If so, does your website terms and conditions appropriately reflect your business model and how you do business?
A key takeaway would be, if you are running a business online, it is essential that you understand how South African law applies to your business, to ensure that your website terms and conditions accurately reflect how you do business. Maybe you only require your current website terms and conditions to be spruced up, either way by putting in place the necessary legal checks and balances, you will not only build trust with your customers’ in the digital space, but you will also ensure that your business is legally protected.
For more information on what we can do to assist you, please don’t hesitate to contact Brent Petersen. We can gladly arrange a meeting to discuss your business requirements to ensure that your business is legally digitally geared.