It’s rare that you receive news that a product or service you love is changing their prices, and you’re totally ok with it. But, that’s exactly what happened this week.
Our beloved group chat/IM app, HipChat, announced they are changing their pricing, which may mean an increase for some of its users. And guess what happened. No angry emails or tweets (at least none that I’ve seen), no rioting in the streets, no mass unsubscribing. They were even praised! Yes, praised! Hard to believe, right? In the wake of Netflix’s epic fail with price increases and the introduction of Qwikster, I was starting to think some of the brands I love were completely clueless about customer experience and effective communication.
But, HipChat renewed my confidence and set an example their peers and brands of all sizes should follow. Like many companies, HipChat started gaining popularity quickly and grew out of their original pricing model. Normally, that would suck for the original users, but we all know it happens and we’re happy for their success. The part that really puts salt in the wound is when the company institutes massive price increases across the board or completely changes their business model based on what’s good for the company, not what’s good for their customers. To make matters worse, they usually announce it 20 seconds before it goes live through a dry, robotic email. And then, they expect you to be totally ok with it and go on using their product or service for the next 100 years.
HipChat seems delightfully aware of this “typical situation,” and they chose to take a higher road. They started by sending a nice, semi-personal email from Pete, the founder of HipChat. There wasn’t a fancy template or a flashy design. Just a regular ol’ email from a regular ol’ guy. He was friendly, to-the-point, and reassuring, and he directed me to a blog post with all the details.
The blog post was glorious. It was short, direct, and felt like I was just talking to a friend. They gave a little background on the situation to let me know why they decided to make some price modifications and shared why the current system just doesn’t work anymore. Then, they described the changes in under 30 words. No long-winded or convoluted paragraphs filled with jargon. Just four little bullet points telling me exactly what’s happening. Finally, HipChat told me exactly when the changes would take effect (not for another two weeks so I have time to plan) and what I need to do (nothing for the vast majority of users). The cherry on top is that these changes may actually make it cheaper for current paying customers to use their service. Not bad, huh?
At the end of the post, I wasn’t angry or wanting to call the CEO and give him a piece of my mind about their horrific communication. I was happy and impressed…so impressed that I wrote an email back to Pete (which was so easy since the original email was from him!) and commended them on a job well done.
So, HipChat, this is my open letter of kudos to you. Your ability to speak human and keep your customer in mind doesn’t go unnoticed, and I hope others will take notes.