Policies Your Web site Must Have
By Stephen Bucaro
It's much more risky for a consumer to do business online than at a brick-and-mortar
store. One of the most important things you must do to have a successful online business
is to make the customer feel comfortable doing business with you online. And one of the
most important aspects of making customers feel comfortable is having your company's
policies, in writing, available on your Web site. This article describes some of the
policies you must have.
Your customer policy defines how you will treat your customers. What are you willing
to do to make sure your customers are satisfied, and what are you NOT willing to do?
Here's what your customer policy should include:
• What is your customer philosophy? Do you pledge complete customer satisfaction?
Or is your policy to give excellent customer service?
• How will you communicate with your customers? Can customers contact you through
email? Through instant messaging? Through a toll-free telephone number? Through
standard postal service?
• When will you communicate with your customers? Will you respond to email messages
within 24 hours? Will your toll-free telephone service be available 24 hours a day?
Site User Agreement
A user agreement specifies the terms and conditions under which visitors may and may
not use your Web site. The primary purpose of a site user agreement is to provide legal
protection for you and your business. Here's what site user agreement should include:
• How much responsibility you assume for damages caused though use of the information
provided on your Web site. (The Web site user assumes all responsibility for damages
caused though use of the information provided on your Web site).
• How much responsibility you assume for damages or losses caused by the
unavailability of your Web site. (You assume NO responsibility damages or losses caused
by the unavailability of your Web site.)
• If a user is determined to pursue legal action against your site, what
jurisdiction the action must be brought under. (Legal action can only be brought under
the jurisdiction of the country and state you reside in.)
• Your sites copyright and what content users are permitted to share and what
rights are not shared. (User's may not link directly to images or videos on your site.
Only short quotes of content from your site may be used for review purposes as allowed
by U.S. copyright law.)
o How the user may use the site if they do not agree to the terms of the user
agreement. (If the user does not agree to the terms of the user agreement, they are not
permitted to access the site in any way).
and your Web site's visitors, and what you do with that information. If your online
business is based in the United States, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) mandates
that you must have a
• A description of what information your Web site collects.
Do you gather information from the users browser?
• A description of what you do with the information you collect. Do you delete
it immediately? Do you store it in a database?
• A disclosure of who you share the information with. Do you share it only with
your own company's internal marketing department? Do you share it or sell it to
outside marketing companies?
• Do you allow your customers and your Web site's visitors to disable the collection
of information or remove information about them that has been collected?