Let’s face it, at some point your policies are going to change. How you handle those changes however is very important to maintain good standing with your users – and avoiding legal troubles.
Furthermore, you may already have a policy modification clause in your terms similar to Google’s or ezDoc’s terms of service. This means that you are already legally obligated to follow your guidelines set in your terms. Proper policy modifications can be tedious, but will keep you compliant with laws and your own policies.
You are running an e-commerce website that has had a long standing refund policy offering returns for unopened products. However, your supplier is unable to handle returns for the near future. Now what do you do?
Proper Policy Modification Guidelines
While it may seem obvious, but you need to make some changes to your policy – at least for the near term. But you cannot just go with these changes without taking the necessary precautions . Doing that would potentially violate your current policies and potentially harm relationships with your customers.
Notify your customers of the changes.
Before changing any policy you first need to get the word out. Remember written policy agreements are very serious legally binding agreements. Violating your own policies is a big no-no.
Use your established marketing channels, social media outlets, mailing lists, etc. to inform your customers of the changes you are about to make to your policy.
Tell them what the changes will be and when they will take effect. Be honest and transparent about why you are enacting the policy changes. If you leave things up to speculation your customers will likely assume you are doing it for your own gain.
Draft and review your policy modifications.
Having a well written policy is always important. This is even more true when making major changes. Take the proper time and care during this process. Make sure your new policy is clear and free of errors. Have another member of your staff or a trusted advisor review it.
Release your policy modifications.
Again use your established marketing channels to notify customers that your new policy is in place. This is important so your customers know what to expect moving forward.
Finally after you have taken proper care of notifying your customers and drafting the new changes add them to the policy officially. For this example this policy change would likely be posted to the terms of service or refund policy of the website.
As a bonus it is good to note within the policy of the effective date of the change and what the changes are. That way any existing customers will be able to clearly recognize the change if they weren’t already informed.