Will writing regulation and complaints handling
We are all aware that Will Writing is not regulated by statute, but that does not mean it’s not regulated at all.
Consumers, if they feel they feel that their complaint has not been dealt with properly or that they are being ignored, which appears to be a growing trend, not only among will writers but service industries in general in the UK, do have recourse through Trading Standards, Citizens Advice and of course the courts.
Will Writers, or Estate Planning Consultants, who are members of the Society of Will Writers, in addition to the above are regulated through their membership, and membership can be suspended or revoked in the event the member company fails to resolve the issue to the full satisfaction of the client and the SWW. The SWW operates a full complaints procedure when faced with a complaint regarding a member.
Fortunately, such actions are extremely rare, but even one complaint that reaches the SWW’s head office regarding a Member is one complaint too many.
Every will writing company, whether a member of the SWW or not should have in place a robust complaints system and everyone employed by that company needs to be trained in dealing with a complaint regardless of its severity.
There was a will writing company, many years ago, whose complaints handling consisted of, upon answering the telephone, if the caller used the word ‘complaint’, the call was abruptly ended. The switchboard most days of the week was manned by the MD’s wife. Not only was their membership revoked, they soon went into receivership and the MD himself, was later arrested and jailed for 3 years.
Burying your head in the sand is not the way to handle a complaint, they rarely simply disappear regardless of how long you may try to ignore it. There is no shame in receiving a complaint, most businesses do from time to time, the important thing is to deal it with head on – if necessary refund any fees paid and move on. There is a saying that goes, “get it right and the client will tell 3 family and friends – get it wrong and they will tell 10 – you cannot win no matter how much you feel you are in the right.
The SWW comes across, albeit rarely, habitual and systematic complainers – it’s something that the USA has exported, where there is blame there is a claim.
The sooner you respond and deal with a complaint the more likely the client is to accept a compromise, such as a rework rather than a refund. Leave it too long and the client loses faith and demands a full refund.
Running a business is like many things in life, it’s about common sense, put yourself in your client’s shoes and ask yourself “is this the way I would want to be treated?”.
One last word, if you do make a mistake and you get a complaint, learn from it. Ask yourself, Is the training being provided by you to your consultants (or yourself if a sole practitioner) fit for purpose? The SWW through the College of Will Writing provides a range of courses, both residential at our Training Centre in Lincoln or through cloud-based distance learning methods.