As always, the arc of customer experience fascinates me. I got a great question recently. It seems so simple.
Should pricing be considered part of the customer experience?
The short answer is yes. But what does this mean, exactly?
It’s easy enough to just experiment with pricing based on the market, what works, what sells, etc.
When I started 360Connext three years ago, I made a very deliberate decision. I don’t have a “rate.” My experience with what I do – consult, provide deliverables, speak, train – has taught me that having an hourly rate doesn’t work for me or my customers. It makes the client think about my time and not my value. It causes me to worry about how much time I spend on a specifically challenging deliverable (should I charge more??) and it generally causes tension in the experience I don’t like.
This can get awkward, admittedly. Some clients really, really want to know what 2 hours of my time is worth. I tell them, in all honesty, it depends. It depends on what we’re doing for two hours. It depends on how much I know going in. It depends. But I think it’s better for both of us to know what the number is before we get started.
The clients I have been lucky enough to work with over the last several years are the ones I select. And the pricing model – typically a service fee based on what we’re doing together, sometimes a one-off and sometimes a monthly retainer model -works for everyone. Are there months I spend more hours than others? Absolutely. Are there times I don’t have as many deliverables? Sure. But this model allows me to provide what I think is the best experience for my clients and also helps me focus on what I need to for them.
This isn’t necessarily right for everyone. I’m not highlighting this as advice. I’m simply pointing out that this pricing model is part of the very deliberate experience I wanted to provide.
Similar to this is how I customize the final sentence on my invoices each time I send one. I do this to let my clients know I’m paying attention to the details. I’m aware of what’s coming up and I’m also continually grateful for their business. It’s not the standard “Thanks for your business” line we see on so many standard invoice forms. It’s based on what we’re doing together, or a shared experience we may have had.
Pricing is tricky. With products, it’s easy to get underpriced by upstart competitors these days. I see this happen a lot when companies are not watching the competitive field. The once-upon-a-time new guys (think Blackberry) suddenly come up for air to realize that others are offering products which are not only less costly, but better.
One of the things certain retail stores do best is display pricing in a way that feels like part of the experience. You don’t see Anthropologie or even Costco sloppy with where and how they put their price tags out there. They are deliberate and integrated. Customers get the information easily and can make a decision more effectively.
Is pricing part of the customer experience? You bet. Have you considered how you price your services?