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.


8 thoughts on “RISING PRICES

  1. What do you say when you have cheap products but need to raise them by a few dollars & have customers complain? It sounds like an excuse when I tell them that my costs for materials have gone up (that’s the truth).


  2. Yes, Barbara, it DOES seem like a no-brainer. :^D

    Cathy, it’s not just WHAT you say, it’s HOW you say it. Remember that the complaint about higher prices may not be an attack–it may be disappointment that it’s harder for them to buy your work.

    If you react defensively as if their comments are an attack (“Well, I have to eat, too, ya know!”) you’ve moved the conversation to a bad place.

    If you respond with sympathy and encouragement, and maybe even add a little value to the product, you can turn things around. “I know, we’re ALL dealing with that. I had to make that little increase so I can keep making these. But look here, see this little improvement I’ve made? It’s actually a better widget now. You’re still getting good value for your money!”

    That gets them looking at THE WORK instead of thinking about the price increase.

    Remember, some people will ALWAYS complain. Even if your widget is a dollar, and you raise the price by a quarter, they’ll say, “But that’s a 25% increase!!”

    And some people will always look for an excuse not to buy something from you.

    But your CUSTOMERS will always look for a reason to BUY it. They need reassurance that it’s a desirable widget and still a good value. If you can provide that reassurance with good nature and belief in your work, you can turn it around.


  3. Welcome back Luann! Great post! And your suggestions are much nicer than the oft quoted possible response to customers (who object to the price), saying, “They’re not for everyone.”



  4. Glad you found the post useful, Cathy, let me know how it works for you.

    Elaine, thank you, it’s good to be back, and you’ve raised (another!) good point about “They’re not for everyone.”

    That comment is one often mentioned by Bruce Baker in his sales seminars. It CAN be used effectively, but not when price is the only issue. Otherwise, it sounds like you’re saying, “They’re only for people with more money than YOU.” Not very nice!


  5. Welcome back Luanne hope the trip was good for the soul.
    Just saw the little otters, they are wonderful.

    Thanks again for the post it’s always hard for most people to understand why somethings cost more than others. Now that everything is expensive it’s even harder.

    Best regards


  6. Pingback: Best of the Week Ending 7/27/2008 - Art of the Firebird

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