Creating Your Customer Charter Correctly

Well, it was only a matter of time before we had to address the customer charter concept. I don’t really like legalese topics, and it takes a special kind of personality to want to read about them as well. But, the truth of the matter is that this is more than just a legal topic. It’s also about conveyance and about awareness.

Ok, I’m not going to sit here and try to give you a play for play account of drafting your customer charter, because that’s already documented, as far as templates and best practices. No, let’s not reinvent the wheel here.

In stead, let’s look at a few bits of advice for things to bear in mind when composing this. You may or may not have accounted for all the variables. So, that said, these are just general concerns. Do research before becoming married to a document.

#1 – Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep

This is a mistake a lot of people make, and it’s promising twenty for hour support, or minimal hold times or guaranteed resolutions, and being unable to fulfill these promises. They’re impossible promises. Nobody can keep these. Promise ninety nine percent uptime. It’s the best you can do.

See, no matter how airtight our infrastructure becomes, or how competent you are, outages and things you can do nothing about will happen. Customers understand it, but if you promise no down time or failure at all, then some irrational idiot will actually expect it of you.

It’s easy to get drawn into selling yourselves with promising support like that, and some people do promise it. They’ve gotten away with it for now, but it’ll catch up with them.

#2 – Spell Out Directions

What I mean by this is that you take time in the charter to define how the customer is supposed to use support. You see, if you don’t, then customers are going to go through the wrong channels for the wrong things.

This will make for awkward inconvenience. In the event it happens in light of a charter spelling out where to go, it’s their fault and you don’t have to console them for it.

#3 – Spell Out Conduct

On a similar note, you need to spell out conduct when interacting with your agents or other services. Being hostile and inappropriate, swearing and calling people awful names is not to be tolerated.

Again, though, you need to spell this out in your charter, so that you can direct hostile customers to it before things escalate.

Of honorable mention are fair use and abuse definitions as well as a list of liabilities you openly and immediately claim so they know what they can actually demand of you.

Beyond that, it’s pretty cut and dry honestly. The rest is all technical and writing style, and templates for that are all over the place.

Your customer charter is important, so make sure you account for these things when you draft one. It’s amazing how much trouble a simple document can get you into, or keep you out of, just by subtle mistakes or attentions to detail. Well, this is why business is a complex science.


Stefanie Amini & Amy Clark