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Companies often have difficulty talking with customers about prices and have a legitimate need to reduce “friction” in the transaction. They accomplish this by using tricks such as tweaking price endings to distort perceptions or to signal a bargain. For example, $9.99 is perceived as a whole dollar cheaper than $10.
The challenge for purpose-oriented organizations is to be transparent and truthful.
A helpful starting point to improve how organizations present their prices is to accept that price is an integral part of its dialogue with customers. The next step is how to explain it.
The field of linguistics gives us four rules to have meaningful dialogue:
Position the price as a component of the company's responsible and ethical intentions. For example, Southwest Airlines price fairness in the name of its approach to service: On its website, the airline describes "Transfarency" as a "philosophy in which customers are treated honestly and fairly, and low fares actually stay low — no unexpected bag fees, change fees, or hidden fees."
From a linguistics standpoint, this applies to the rule of relevance:
Customers often wonder how a price was set or why it has recently changed.
This suggestion applies to the linguistic rule of manner by being very clear. Demystifying how prices are set or changed can help establish a trusting relationship with customers. For example, the furniture company Neptune provides extensive detail of its underlying logic for pricing.
Any of the four linguistic rules for dialogue can be broken if done in a lucid way.
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