Communicating Price Increases

herald-sun-pic

 

We are all customers of someone. No one can get through life without buying something. Being a customer and a customer experience consultant provides a rich source of material from which to draw the occasional blog post. And it was an email I received yesterday that has inspired today’s.

About a year ago I started getting a newspaper delivered on weekends after I was offered a deal whereby I could get full access to the online version of the paper and weekend delivery for $6 a week. Even though it’s not far to walk to my local shop to buy a paper, I like waking up on weekends and finding the paper on my doorstep.

Yesterday I received an email from the paper’s General Manager Customer Support that read:

“We hope you’re enjoying your membership to [the newspaper] with all the best news, sport and entertainment delivered straight to you with weekend home delivery and unrestricted digital access.

Changes to your membership

From your first payment following 6 December 2016, the price of your membership will change to $7 a week (billed as minimum cost $28 every 4 weeks).

If you have any questions, please get in touch on 1300 XXX XXX, Monday to Friday 7.30am to 6.00pm (AEDT).”

This is the third similarly-worded email I’ve received this year after also getting one from my telephone company and my cable TV provider. And each time it infuriated me.

It’s not because they have chosen to increase their prices – I’m not thrilled about that but the increase is marginal.

It’s because of the lack of transparency.

As a business owner, If I put my prices up, my customers would want to know why. As a customer of this newspaper, I’m no different. There’s no indication in their email as to what I’m paying now, what the ‘change’ (why not just be honest and call it an increase?) represents as a percentage of that, and most importantly why they have made the decision.

But perhaps what irks me the most is that there’s also indication in that email of how much they value having me as a customer.

In this Age of the Customer, the only source of competitive advantage is an obsession with understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers. People expect their custom to be valued.

I know six or seven dollars a week is not a massive amount of money but if I have chosen to buy from you, I expect you to acknowledge on occasion at the very least that you appreciate it.

If I was asked to write that communication to customers, here is a first draft at how I would have done it:

“Dear X

Thank you for being a member of [the newspaper] since [subscription start date]. We hope you’re enjoying your membership to [the newspaper] with all the best news, sport and entertainment delivered straight to you with weekend home delivery and unrestricted digital access.

Changes to your membership

As a result of [insert justifiable reason for the price increase], unfortunately we are having to increase the price of your membership for the first time since [date of last increase]. From your first payment following 6 December 2016, the price of your membership will increase by $1 to $7 a week (billed as minimum cost $28 every 4 weeks). This represents a 16.67% rise on what you are currently paying.

If you have any questions, please get in touch on 1300 XXX XXX, Monday to Friday 7.30am to 6.00pm (AEDT).”

As a customer, don’t you prefer that? It treats you with respect and is open and honest.

I’ll be cancelling my subscription to the newspaper today and with the warmer weather now upon us in Melbourne, I’m looking forward to a weekend walk to the shops.

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