The San Francisco Chronicle published an article on April 1 (no joke) about new fines and fees being instituted by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The article (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/cityinsider/detail?&entry_id=60331) noted how recipients of parking tickets in San Francisco are being charged $2 more, and people using the government customer service center will be charged $3 to be able to wait in line to pay tickets, purchase parking cards, or buy Fast Passes.
All this is understandable. Municipalities in California are having a particularly difficult time financially, and they need to increase revenue. So charge more for parking. Charge more for tickets.
But charge for the right to wait in line? Charge to be inconvenienced? Charge for the opportunity to buy something from you?
When I work with a client considering levying a new fee on the customer, the questions I ask include: How will this impact your relationship with your customer? How will this impact your customer retention? How will this impact the customer’s word-of-mouth? How will this impact your long-term success?
Most businesses – if they asked themselves these questions – will do everything they can to avoid increasing prices unless they can show some equal increase in value to the client.
In municipalities, the same questions are not asked, and maybe it’s because they don’t think they need to be asked. After all, where else is the customer going to go to pay a ticket, buy a parking pass, or buy a Fast Pass?
Whether you work in a municipality or a private business, before you put an additional burden on the customer, before you expect more from your customer, before you put barriers between them and your organization, think about the long-term impact.
Exhaust every opportunity to improve your organization’s performance before dumping that responsibility on your customer.
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