Price hikes are inevitable, whether you have a solely owned business, work in a multinational corporation, or are self-employed. Apart from the impact the rise in prices has on the production, processes, and lifestyles, the big question that arises is how to inform the clients about it.
It is not good news that you can casually share in a personal meeting or send along with a greeting email. You need to think through how to deliver your words the right way. The words, tone, expression, and structure play a key role in getting the customer’s response right.
So, instead of drafting long letters with lengthy justifications on how the price raise makes sense, let's put things in perspective via a checklist.
Checklist for Writing a Price Increase Letter
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The key element to consider here is that you want to give your customers bad news without losing their trust in your brand. For that, the way you break the news is very important.
So here are the main points your price increase letter must include in order to deliver the message without hurting customers or making them develop any grievances directed towards your brand.
1. The Justification
Your customers deserve to know what is going on. They need to know the reasons behind your decision. Also, anything else that will change with the change in prices must be communicated to them.
Once they know what to expect and when to expect the change, they will be more willing to accept it. Generally, there are three main reasons leading to the rise in prices:
Increase in Costs
With the increase in costs of raw materials and market supplies, the overall costs for the businesses rise. Hence the burden passes on to the client as the selling price is bound to increase.
Make sure to estimate all the costs that become part of the production process. This includes all such expenses such as materials, software, overheads, etc.
It is natural for businesses to reposition or change their strategies and core products or services over time. So if you started with the lowest rates, at the best prices and market conditions, things wouldn't stay the same the second time around.
Add in a new product line or service. You will have to find the means to finance them. Due to this, there may be a need to increase the prices of your existing products.
However, in such a case, the customer base naturally squeezes down. While you may lose a few loose ends, it is best to communicate your offering and the value you will ultimately provide to your customers. That way, you can minimize the losses.
On the bright side, it can work as an opportunity to lose clients who already add to your costs.
Since retailers charge a commission from the business, you may have to set a different price on platforms like amazon. Often termed as the cost of convenience, this is the price customers have to pay for getting a product with ease from the comfort of their homes.
Explain the concept of retail marketing to them and tell them why the prices will be slightly higher on these platforms.
2. Communicate Within the Organization
Make sure you communicate the price increase internally as well. The increase and its justification will help the departments like customer services, which serve as the primary customer touchpoints to explain the pricing to the customers.
Take the entire team on board first before going public with the news. Price hikes will ultimately affect every stakeholder of the business. That also includes the marketing team, as they’ll have to update their sales strategy to align their promotional efforts.
3. Deliver the Message Personally
Depending on your relationship with the customers, you should devise a plan to deliver the news. However, even if you have distant customers, now is the time to deliver the message through a phone call or direct mail as well as an email. This method has two benefits:
First, it ensures that your customers don’t miss the message.
Second, it adds a personal touch to the company-customer relationship.
Make sure to use the company template usually used to deliver other customer messages for this purpose. This makes it look official and familiar and ensures the notice doesn't go missed.
Allow it to sink in. Give the customers ample time to adapt to the price increase. The best practice would be to provide them with a two-month notice period to absorb the news.
Whatever timeline you decide, make sure it is enough for them to decide before the price increase becomes effective. Then, if they wish to cancel the orders or subscriptions, they can do so easily.
5. Segment the Market
Instead of sending out a single template and one consistent message to all your clients, divide the client base into groups. For example, you can make segments based on the products or services they use or the client value and then draft individual letters for particular groups.
The message will be more direct and relevant to the customers. It will also save the customers valuable time as they won't have to go through long lists and words to understand where they fall in the notice.
Bonus tip: Add value for your loyal customers by attaching a complimentary gift or discount offer.
6. Keep it Concise
You need to tell them the amount that’s increased, the reasoning, and how and when it’ll get into effect. But, at the same time, avoid getting into deep conversations or details about the price increase.
Too many words and long explanations make you look apologetic. So make sure your words are assuring yet brief.
But still, make it personalized. Going too brief may sometimes sound too formal, so find the right balance. Convey the message but always be courteous.
7. Provide All Information
It may be hard to provide all the information customers seek in a single email. What you can do, is embed a link to an FAQs page on your website. That way, they’ll get most of their answers quickly without you having to go into detailed explanations.
8. Provide Your Contact
Even with a personalized message, and a link to the FAQs, it is best if you provide your contact or a number or email they can get back to. At times, the customers may have a different query or need to get a reassuring personal answer.
Ensure to reach out to them and have a well-trained in-house support team for such matters.
9. Strategize the Price Increase
Before making the announcement, make sure where you stand with the price. Will it stay constant, or is there to be an increase again shortly?
It may not be taken lightly since it's not good news, so if you have planned to increase it, you better stick to it for at least a year or two.
10. Avoid Fluff
It is tempting to beat about the bush and avoid coming to the point at once. But after a courteous greeting, it is best to let them know the actual purpose of the letter.
Too much fluff would have them thinking the worst is coming. Some people don't even have the time to go through the whole letter, so keep it short and get straight to the point.
11. Be Courteous, Not Apologetic
Once in a while, the price increase is your basic right as a business. You may feel the right thing is to explain the reason, but there’s no need to apologize. If the customers like your product or service, they will stick by; if they don't, they won't get it despite the constant prices.
So always be courteous but don't apologize.
12. Use Passive Voice
Since your letter isn't the bearer of good news, it is best to use a passive voice. That way, it will feel like the price raise will happen as part of the process rather than someone deliberately putting in efforts to achieve it.
13. Try to Save Your Relationship
Such announcements often result in anguish, and customers often feel like switching brands with such news. So your words should try and heal the relationship instead of messing it up.
If they have questions, address them empathetically and try to win them over instead of letting them go.
14. Inform them of the Value
One great tip for your letter to sound appealing is to let the customers know how the price increase will ultimately benefit them. Tell them how you consider adding more value in features, quality, upgrades, faster service, performance, etc.
Let them in on your future plans - as much as you can - so they feel more connected with you and hence would be able to take the price increase better.
However, make sure not to overpromise or lie. Always be honest about what’s in the pipeline and can actually be delivered.
15. Send a Follow Up
There are always chances that your price increase letter gets missed, or the customers think of it as spam and don’t read it. So it is best to send a follow-up letter before the price increase is effective.
This will also serve as a reminder for the customers who got the first message but forgot to take action on their subscriptions.
Tips and Tricks for Drafting the Best Price Increase Letter
Here are a few tips that’ll help your price increase letter make its way from your client's hands to their hearts without hurting them
Write your name, so they know who’s writing to them.
Address them directly.
Start with a general greeting and use a personalized tone.
Get down to the actual message as casually as possible.
Bump it up with a bit of value or good news and explain that.
Add a little perk or complementary offering.
Give them sufficient time to make a decision based on the price increase.
Remind them that price increase brings ultimate value for them.
Mention your contact details and encourage feedback and suggestions.
Make it sound like a human letter, not as if a bot has composed it.
Ensure the whole organization workforce is on board with the decision before informing the customers.
End your letter on a graceful note.
Offer help or flexible timelines for specific customers.
Now that you know the key points to keep in mind for letting the customers know about the price increase, get down to the letter. It may be hard to say it, but your customers deserve to know about it well in time.
A good thing is mostly future price increases are normal and anticipated by all customers. So there’s usually little anguish or upset customers unless the prices suddenly hit the skies.
Follow our checklist and tips and make the most out of your business, taking your clients along.