A topic came up on a discussion forum recently, about how to handle customer comments when your prices go up.
We’ve all had this experience ourselves. Not just at the gas pumps, but across the board. I went to pick up a print job for my show postcards a few weeks ago, and the cost had nearly doubled. (To be fair, I always thought their prices were unbelievably low to begin with.)
How you handle this can determine whether you keep or lose a customer. Sympathy is good. An action plan is even better!
The last time this happened to me, it was with a big ticket item (a wall hanging.) The customer was disappointed because she had planned to buy one every year for the past three years–but my prices kept going up.
When the customer expressed genuine disappointment, I had an answer ready.
I explained that my work was getting more complex and more labor intensive. I pointed out that the smaller ones sold quickly, leaving me with larger pieces by the time I got to this particular show.
My action plan? I said I would work to get her a wall hanging this year, whether it was a smaller, custom order in her price range or a layaway plan for the one she wanted.
She chose the former. We discussed what it would take to make “the perfect piece” for her, and she left her deposit payment.
It took her almost a year to pay for it, but she was very happy with the arrangement. I remember the day I called her to tell her it was on its way to her. She was so excited! (I still have her thank you letter posted on my bulletin board.)
I think when you offer a solid explanation, genuine sympathy for their expectations being dashed, and a good action plan for getting them on-board, you might still be able to turn that initial disappointment into a sale. I wouldn’t ignore that. I’d acknowledge it and try to work with it.
Times are harder all the way around, but it’s encouraging people when still want your work. It means they’ve formed a meaningful connection for it. That’s what we need to focus on–how to acknowledge and respect that desire and how keep it burning.
Years ago, way before I became an artist myself, I admired an artist’s work at a local show. I loved her work and I loved her enthusiasm and upbeat personality. I planned to save and buy a piece at the next show.
But when I found her the following year, she’d raised her prices a lot. (A lot.)
I expressed disappointment–I really liked her work, but now it seemed beyond reach.
I can still remember her obnoxious, hoity-toity attitude which made me feel like a crumb. (I think maybe she’d been “discovered” in the meantime–this was the ’80′s!) She made it clear she couldn’t be bothered with such a small potato like me anymore, because she was in the big-time.
Even years later when I made more money and could have afforded her work, I didn’t care to.