The Gist

  • Involve teamsCustomer experience teams should be involved in pricing decisions to consider the impact on customers.
  • Personal experiences rock. CX professionals should pay attention to their personal experiences and use them as inspiration for content.
  • Blended CX. The blend of human interaction and new technology is a topic on the forefront of the customer experience realm.

In 2011, Netflix shocked its loyal customers by raising its subscription price by 60%. The move triggered tens of thousands of negative comments on its Facebook page and turned the streaming giant into public enemy number one. This is a classic example of how surprising customers in a bad way can backfire and hurt a brand's reputation.

In her debut column for CMSWire, “Raising Prices? Raise the Customer Experience,” CX expert Nichole Devolites shares a personal experience about a bad customer experience with wine pricing. During a visit to a local grocery store that she patronized, Nichole discovered that her favorite wine was priced 78% higher than she was accustomed to. Despite liking the grocery store, Nichole decided to forgo her purchase and, more importantly, to throw her loyalty to the store out with the bathwater. Don't mess with someone's wine.

Nichole explores the importance of involving CX teams in pricing discussions and how it can affect brand loyalty. She also highlights the significance of personal experiences in the CX world and how it can inspire the creation of meaningful content.

Finally, Nichole touches on the exciting potential of blending new technology and human interaction in CX. As technology continues to evolve, finding the perfect balance between automation and human interaction will be key in shaping the future of CX.

You can read Nichole’s CMSWire columns here.

Editor’s note: This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Dom Nicastro: Hey, everybody, Dom Nicastro, managing editor of CMSWire with our latest newbie CMSWire contributor, Nichole Devolites, CX expert. What's going on Nichole?

Nichole Devolites: Hey, how are ya?

Nicastro: Good, good to connect. We've connected many times over the years basically, in the role of me being a reporter for CMSWire and asking you like, does this makes sense? You being a CX practitioner, but now you're out on your own? You know, you're venturing out into the CX world on your own and tell us about that little career change?

Devolites: Yeah, you know, I was one of those fortunate ones, where, you know, from the time that CX voice of the customer, right, all those terms started to come about. It's one of the first to start putting it into practice and God that I'd have been, what, 12-to-15 years ago. And so it's been nice to be on the forefront of it, though, because it has allowed me to kind of branch out and be able to help many organizations as opposed to just one which has been very fulfilling, but now I'm seeing a growing need. So it was a perfect time.

Writing About Personal Experiences in CX

Nicastro: Good. Well, we wish you the best of luck with that career change. And we're glad that you're in the midst of all that busy and chaos that you're going through, you're contributing for CMSWire, and today is your debut column. And this video will be in is in the column. And what I love Nichole, is that you talked about this the DX Summit, when I interviewed you for a presentation on customer experience and employee experience. We need to write more and talk more about things that happen to us. In the customer experience world, take that event, talk about the lessons learned. And it's exactly what you did in that presentation. And it's exactly what you did in your first piece. And this one was, and this one comes down to booze. You know, you had a bad experience with booze — with wine. Well, what was that all about? No one wants to have a bad experience before you start drinking?

Devolites: First of all, it was very traumatic. You know, it's interesting to see how that kind of shapes your experience and not so much just the booze itself, but the pricing behind it, right the experience that you have, when you go to purchase something that you love to consume, or use or whatever it is. And, you know, it doesn't matter if you can afford it or not. It's the fact that there was no communication. And you know, when you speak more broadly about what that kind of price change does, it shifts something in your brain just a little bit to say, Well, gosh, I mean, I could go elsewhere and find that for cheaper or, you know, maybe it's just the brand and I need to find a new brand. And I don't know that there's a lot of brand loyalty. I can't talk of brand loyalists anymore, right, that are willing to stick with something no matter what.

Related Article: How Amazon Prime Created a Bad Customer Experience for Everyone

Customers Will Reassess Spending Habits after Surprise Price Hikes

Nicastro: Yeah, well, like you said, it was a very dramatic change in price. And you took the time you went you pick that store this many choices to go. And you pick that store, it's been your go-to one of your go-tos. But when but you were surprised in a bad way, ya know, people hate surprises unless it benefits them. And I'll give you an example. Like when I order like at Domino's, right they throw in an extra pizza like cuz, hey, you're a loyal customer. Bring it bring it on, I'm like, that was so nice of them. The opposite like a 70, or whatever, it was percent markup and price without any communication is kind of insane. And it just it kind of drove you away.

Devolites: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it triggers something to start really reassessing how you're spending, right. And it doesn't even have to be just consumer base, this could be you're working with a vendor, and the same thing happens. I mean, it really could happen in any scenario. And it's just this little thing that makes you rethink, you know, how you're purchasing how you're budgeting and it sometimes can, I know with my brain, it'll just continue to spin until we get to the end of that but you know, for consumers, especially at a time like this just in general with spending it is a bit of a shock and it was a bit of a shock and I think as you know, as you read through the article, you'll see there is definitely a price disparity between this particular store and the rest of the stores that sell this particular product.

Learning Opportunities

Related Article: 23 Minutes, 4 Seconds, 1 Canceled Subscription, 1 Poor Customer Experience  

The Importance of CX Involvement in Pricing Discussions

Nicastro: Nichole, do you think that customer experience teams in this situation let's say with the it has to be with the wine brand I don't know who determines that price? The grocery store the wine brand — probably the wine brand, right, because because they marked it up so the grocery store marked it up whatever —  but are customer experience teams not getting enough involved in those discussions because customer experience professionals like a chief customer officer, someone like you, could envision what that customer will be experiencing when they see that price change. And you know, who generally does price changes? Should CX get more involved?

Devolites: Yeah, I think CX should be involved. And I think historically they're not. And I think that it's something that most people don't think, well, a price change is not really something that's customer experience. It is. Everything that relates back to the customer in some way is part of customer experience. And in the case of pricing today, historically, it's been within sales, it's been within the C-level, right, or whoever's going to be setting that pricing from a business perspective, they don't really think about how that's going to impact the customer. Usually, it's a very nominal increase. It's not something as dramatic as this, you know, when you're alluding to that wine brand. Yes, they set the initial price, but they set it at a wholesale. So anything that comes after that retail markup is something that is determined by the store. And the case of the store. I don't think CX was anywhere near it, nor do I think they thought about it. And I think that's the second part to CX professionals is, this is something we need to start thinking about is at least being involved with the conversations, finding ways to maybe have focus groups, or even just a subset of customers that have been loyal for a long time. Hey, how would you feel about this? What's your threshold? Right? Those kinds of questions don't hurt.

Related Article: Scenes From an Italian Restaurant: Great Customer Experience, Personalized Touch

Finding Inspiration in Everyday CX: Why Personal Stories Matter

Nicastro: Yeah. And a little research into nearby competitors, what their prices are, you know, for their wines and stuff like that, they would have kind of found out a little more, and would have been a little more thoughtful in that price rollout. Well. All right. So we, you know, in your DX Summit presentation, you talked about vacations and food, you had experiences there. Now it's wine. Nichole, I can't wait to see what you come up with next in your in your personal life. That relates to CX? Yeah. It's the way to do it. You know, when you have those, everyone has experiences, so why not write about them? Yeah. And that's unique to you.

Devolites: Yeah. And it's, you know, it's something where, when you really are a CX professional, you start paying attention to the world around you a little bit differently, right. And I've had a lot of great experiences, and I need to start writing about those what doesn't look like I complain all the time, but that you take inspiration from it. I know, I've taken inspiration from some of these experiences and brought them into my own programs. And I think that's the way to go. We're all learning from each other. Right?

Blending New Technology and Human Interaction

Nicastro: Yeah, Devolites is coming, Devolites is coming. Put the good stuff out. She's gonna write about it on Well, great opening column. Appreciate it. Last question, you know, what kind of things are exciting you in the in the realm of customer experience and possible future articles?

Devolites: Yeah. So you know, I am a big fan of technology and kind of seeing how that's gonna play a role. I think a lot of times we get hung up on statistics and how to automate, right? But there's a whole other piece of how technology can do really cool things. You alluded to something about metaverse I won't get into it now and seeing what AI can do and things like that. And where's that perfect blend between making sure that that human interaction is still there, right, as well as blending it with, you know, the new wave of tech that's coming and how people are eventually going to adapt to that. And so, for me, I see that being on the forefront and what we're going to be exploring over the next few years.

Nicastro: Perfect. Looking forward to it. Nichole D. thank you for being part of the CMSWire contributor family debut article and looking forward to many more. 

Devolites: Thank you. 

Nicastro: Alright, have a good one.