• February 22, 2013
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Customers Tie Price to Satisfaction, Why Don't Companies?

Customer experience professionals should, but seldom do, use their voice-of-the-customer solutions to gauge customer perceptions about pricing, Forrester Research concluded in a new report.

And by not using their VoC systems for this purpose, they're missing out on valuable data about pain points that customers experience most often.

According to the report, "How CX Professionals Can Use VoC to Surface Pricing Issues," Forrester senior analyst Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian suggests that in today's economy, customer perceptions about their experiences with brands are largely affected by pricing issues. "Pricing decisions set customers' expectations for the experience," she wrote in the report, "which helps drive both satisfaction and loyalty."

Schmidt-Subramanian also points out that customer satisfaction with a company's pricing has five key drivers:

  • Price-quality ratio;
  • Price reliability (including timely communications about price increases and an absence of hidden fees);
  • Relative price, compared to competitors;
  • Price fairness (whether the costs can be justified); and
  • Price transparency.

But most pricing decisions get made without regard for how they will affect the overall customer experience, and customer experience professionals are typically left out of the decisions, Schmidt-Subramanian says.

Companies typically don't find out about customer issues with pricing until after the fact when they filter in through the call center or social media. Often, by then, it's too late. As an example, she cites the consumer backlash that took place in 2011 when Bank of America added a $5 debit card fee, causing many customers to close their accounts.

What they really need to do to uncover pricing issues, she adds, is mine unstructured data, conduct qualitative research, and survey customers. Additionally, they need to examine customer journeys to see where customers encounter pricing decisions, look at the context in which they perceive pricing, uncover the drivers of price satisfaction, and monitor price changes over time to see how they correlate with overall customer satisfaction and brand perceptions.

"Unfortunately, CX pros can't always influence pricing decisions, but sometimes they can minimize the ill effects of pricing decisions that customers won't like," Schmidt-Subramanian concludes.

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