Thursday, April 06, 2006

Good Business or Bad Buzz

Seth Godin has an interesting post about treating customers differently. (Charging them more or less for the same product or service.) He has some good points about how much easier it is to do and makes a point that it should be done. I agreed when I read it, but then last night I got home and had second thoughts. We have a child in a good piano school. It is expensive, and we never hesitate to pay the bill even thought their are cheaper options out there. Everyone pays the same price, but some people have multiple kids in it, so obviously they spend more. While I like the idea of treating different customers differently, I think it is very easy for some of us to forget that some people are hyper sensitive to fairness, and even a slight perceived preference to someone else, pricing or otherwise, creates a lot of emotion in the person and can lead to negative buzz.

In the case of the piano school, my wife believes that they tend to have favorites, and once that opinion is formed it is easy to find additional evidence to reinforce that thought. Whether intentional or not, it is probably true. I do not care, but she does.

So yes, you can treat difference customers differently, even charge some more and some less. But be aware that people do not all think the same, and a slight difference in treatment could result in a lot of bad buzz.