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[Article] Price increase - but why the obfuscation Atlassian?


Jimi Wikman
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Atlassian are raising the prices for their cloud services on October 12th, which is perfectly ok. What is a bit strange though is that they for some reason seem to purposely try to hide just how much they are raising the prices. It does not say in the email, and the link takes you to the FAQ rather than the price list. A price list that only have the new prices and not the old for comparison. It is a bit odd.

This seems to become a norm for Atlassian lately, to hide information and prevent comparison. I don't like it and I don't like the direction Atlassian is taking in terms of communication and information in the last few years. Atlassian used to be good and open about their prices, but lately it feels that they are doing everything they can to obfuscate and hide information purposely.

I am not sure if that is because they have a strategy to adopt dark patterns in their UX to prevent a clear view into the actual costs (like airlines do), or if it is just some bad practice on their part implemented by someone who don't understand the customers.

For example, why not include the new pricing in the email you send out to the customers? You know what products the customer own as it is part of your database, so it is not rocket science to add customized templates based on product ownership. If people could do that 15 years ago when sending out printed catalogs that had your car and your color on the front page, then I am sure that Atlassian can set up a simple database that can send targeted content to product segments.

Even if you can't because you have not done the work, or your master data is crap, you can still send the entire pricing table, or at least link to it!  Instead, you send out a letter that say nothing with a link to a page that does not have the pricing information I am looking for.

 image.png

Not even the FAQ landing page that Atlassian link to have a link in the text or any form of directional que to the single most important question clients will have when landing here: What are the new prices. Sure, there is a link component to the left, but nothing that indicate that these are related to the new pricing structure. It's just sloppy and poor UX in my opinion.

image.png

Once you click in to see the pricing tables, you would expect to see the new prices and the old one for comparison, right? Nope. Atlassian shows only the new prices. If you are anything like me, then you never really pay attention to the actual price per tier, you know your monthly cost, right? So it would be nice with a place to see your new cost based on the new prices... but nope. You just have to wait for the next bill to see what the new price might be.

image.png

As you can see, the start plans are going to be shafted once more. So if you have one, hold on to it because it looks like they will increase the price on that tier with 750%.

 

Now, it is not very difficult to present the information on the increase in a more useful way. Just add the information on both the old and new price, along with the changes in both value and percentage. This is what Jira Cloud Standard looks like, for example, if you spend 2 minutes on it:

image.png

 

I think this could be a problem because the person in charge of the INFORMATION is a designer used to work with PRESENTATION. Having tables that look good is one thing, answering the questions of the people looking for answers is another. If you present new prices that will affect people's decision to remain a client or not, then you better do better than this Atlassian.

This was not good, so step it up.

Ok?


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      Atlassian - removing features and failing to communicate it
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      My question is: what information did new customers that signed up AFTER May 10th get regarding the fact that functionality they were buying would be removed later that year? When I upgraded to Premium, there was no warning and no mention of this, and I have not received a single email regarding this change.
      To make matters worse, it seems that not even support knew this was happening so when I submitted a ticket to ask where my features had disappeared to, they referred to the differences between cloud and DataCenter. Obviously, they had no idea this feature was removed or that it had ever been a part of the cloud product.
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      3 months before the removal, another letter should be sent to remind the customers about this change. Then again every month to ensure no one misses this information. Every release note from May 10th should have a notice at the top reminding of this change as well. This notice should be properly marked in red with a warning sign to illustrate its importance.
        New Clients - Present changes up front. In the upgrade and order form, you should add a notice that the current implementation of Advanced Roadmaps will have changes happening soon that will remove features. You don't want to start a relation with a new customer with the feeling of lying and not being honest. While not a lot of clients was effected by this change, it has significant impact on TRUST. Not only do I not trust that Atlassian will keep me updated on changes to their products, especially when it comes to removing features, I also do not trust that they will be open with me when it comes to financial issues. This is a huge problem and I know that this is not just me feeling this way as I hear many other Atlassian consultants and customers starting to feel the same way.
      Atlassian needs to step up their communication as they seem to be stuck in their corporate bubble lately and focusing more on making money than their customers. I think Pete Morris, the roadmaps/Advanced Roadmaps product owner, displayed this well in his response to me.

      While Pete is a great guy and his response is kind and professional, it also shows a distinct lack of understanding of how to communicate with customers. In-product notifications are nice, if you assume that people actually read those, or even understand what they mean. Passive communication does not substitute direct communication, and more often than not the people who need the information are not the day-to-day users.  It is the people in charge of tools and work processes and finance that need it, as well as the system administrators.
      I will of course reach out to Pete and discuss this with him and others at Atlassian, not to point fingers, but to give my point of view to hopefully prevent similar situations in the future.
       
      Invision Power Services - massive surprise price increase and reducing support without notice
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      So what really happened to warrant such a massive surge of frustration? Well, it was a combination of things, where I think the biggest issue was that people realized big changes to pricing and support by browsing the new website. There had been no information on this change beforehand, and the changes was quite substantial.
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      This could easily have been avoided, and it could even have been a positive spin on things if handled correctly. No one really mind the price change because we all knew that it had to come sooner or later. The change should have been done gradually, however, with the proper communication.
      First announce the change 3 months in advance. IPS need to increase prices to up the development and support efforts. Everyone wants to see more features and bugs fixed faster. Everyone wants support to be better. Not a hard selling point to make. Offer anyone that want to commit to IPS to pay for a longer period of time now before the price change. - Show that you care about the current customers and also get a big chunk of short term cash to invest. Next renewal price remains the same for all existing customers - Again show that you care and appreciate the current customers by extending the existing price 6-9 months depending on when their next billing is due. #2 above should cover any current cashflow need, and you get a ton of goodwill. New customers pay the new price, of course. Offer multiple billing cycles. - Matt tried to motivate having just yearly billing with that customers can get confused or happen to pick the wrong cycle. I don't buy that as it is a UX issue and they own the product in charge of billing. I had a web hosting service for 15 years with multiple billing tiers and no one ever got confused by that. Having multiple options would help a lot for many that have problems funding $300 one time fee, but find it easier to fund maybe $30 monthly. Yes, you can do that anyway if you like with the ability to deposit money, but it is not something that people are used to. Define your support properly and offer ticket support. - While I get the idea to move questions to an open area to reduce the number of same questions being asked over and over, that is not the answer to the problem. I am all for the community driven help with IPS staff doing the heavy lifting, but you need to have an option for ticket support as well. I think it would have helped to put classification on the support tiers to make it easier to understand:
        Tier 1 support - Paid Premium support with response time within 1 hour and a resolution time within 48 hours. You can even offer per ticket support where a customer can pay a sum for priority support either per incident or for say a month for example during a migration or critical sales period. Tier 2 Support - Ticket support in a private forum with only own tickets settings. This is used only for technical support issues, meaning that something is not working with your software. Tier 3 Support - Community driven support where you can ask any question and get help from the community as well as IPS staff. The key point here is to communicate, in advance, present the negative changes with a positive that motivates the negative. A price change should lead to improvements for the users, like better support and faster feature cycles or investments. This way you motivate the change and you give time to absorb it. This is important because the human mind is very sensitive to change and rapid change has a tendency to cause frustration or even anger.
      IPS did the complete opposite by letting their customers discover the changes on their own and then selling the change with no upside for the customers at all. Instead the customers now pay more for less as prices went up and support was removed. That is a double negative, which is extremely hard to sell to your customers.
      This was a part of the email that was sent out hours after the release of the new website and the new price model.

      The wording and the way this is presented is directed inwards. It tries to motivate price changes with an historical reluctance to increase prices, which is pretty much what every landlord in the world do when they want to make more money and care nothing about their tenants. It has never been received well and it was not in this case either.
      Claiming that the services and products hold great value is a moot point to make towards their customers. We know this, that is why we pay in the first place. What we want to know is why should I pay 50%-60% more tomorrow compared to today? What has changed and how do I get better value for paying more? Making claims that major features have been adding and referencing gamification (which is not a complete system btw), anonymous posting and Zapier integration does not really motivate why you want me to pay you more. I already have those features!
      Switching to annual renewal billing because it is a simpler way and in line with industry standard show a distinct lack of connection with the customers and it is again directed inwards. It is not easier and more wanted for the customers, but many would have loved to have that as an option. I am of course talking about companies, but they are not the only customers IPS have.
      The fact that this came out hours after the release of new prices and changes to support models enforces the feeling that this was an afterthought and that IPS care so little for their customers that they only informed them after they started screaming. I know that is not how IPS see their clients, but the perception is still there due to this mistake.
      IPS failed in communication and people are leaving
      Due to this very simple mistake to not communicate and not making sure the customers understand the reason behind the price change this has now caused many customers to cancel their subscriptions. This will have a ripple effect on the mod creators either leaving or increasing their prices substantially. Less mods means less customers and less customers means less community support, which leads to a feeling of abandonment and ultimately a reduction in sales.
      Worse though is that IPS loose their customers TRUST. Again.
      IPS is on a very dangerous path, and has been for a while, due to the fact that they seem to lack a communications officer that have experience with communication strategy and financial strategy. While Jordan is doing an amazing job trying to communicate with the customers on the forum and social media that is not enough to save them from blunders like these. Not even Matt trying to do damage control will do anything in this situation.
      The damage is done.
      The ony question is how will IPS handle this now that they have screwed up. They can either continue to ignore the vocal customers that do not approve of these changes, or they can roll back and make a new plan to roll out later this year.
      If they ignore the customers I think they are going to have a really bad 2022, especially as people get back to life again and spend less time online again. Many struggle with finance now and it is not hard to motivate a move to less capable competitor with such a huge increase in pricing. Customers will drop like flies, not just because of the changes to price and support, but because they no longer trust IPS as a company.
      If they roll back and make a proper plan in communication with their customers, then they have a chance to salvage some customers at least. Many will still leave due to the lack of TRUST, but the chance for redemption could salvage that to some degree. With the proper communication they can even turn this into a win, but that would require a communication plan that is very different than what we have seen so far from IPS.
       
      Communication is not a nice-to-have!
      If you run a company then you sould know that communication is not nice-to-have. It is an essential part of your business and if you fail in communication you not only can, but you will, damage your brand and business.
      Anytime you deal with change for your customers, make sure your communication is aimed towards them. Make sure you present the benefit for them, not for you. Change is never accepted up front, so you must always sell it to prevent backlash. It is very difficult to fully recover from a communication mistake, but you can mitigate and in some cases even improve your relation with your customers.
      So don't ignore the importance of good communication and if you are not a communications expert yourself, hire one. It will save you a ton of money from stupid mistakes like Atlassian and IPS have stepped into and it can increase your revenue a lot.
      Good luck!
       

      View full blog article
    • By Jimi Wikman
      Atlassian are raising the prices for their cloud services on October 12th, which is perfectly ok. What is a bit strange though is that they for some reason seem to purposely try to hide just how much they are raising the prices. It does not say in the email, and the link takes you to the FAQ rather than the price list. A price list that only have the new prices and not the old for comparison. It is a bit odd.
      This seems to become a norm for Atlassian lately, to hide information and prevent comparison. I don't like it and I don't like the direction Atlassian is taking in terms of communication and information in the last few years. Atlassian used to be good and open about their prices, but lately it feels that they are doing everything they can to obfuscate and hide information purposely.
      I am not sure if that is because they have a strategy to adopt dark patterns in their UX to prevent a clear view into the actual costs (like airlines do), or if it is just some bad practice on their part implemented by someone who don't understand the customers.
      For example, why not include the new pricing in the email you send out to the customers? You know what products the customer own as it is part of your database, so it is not rocket science to add customized templates based on product ownership. If people could do that 15 years ago when sending out printed catalogs that had your car and your color on the front page, then I am sure that Atlassian can set up a simple database that can send targeted content to product segments.
      Even if you can't because you have not done the work, or your master data is crap, you can still send the entire pricing table, or at least link to it!  Instead, you send out a letter that say nothing with a link to a page that does not have the pricing information I am looking for.
       
      Not even the FAQ landing page that Atlassian link to have a link in the text or any form of directional que to the single most important question clients will have when landing here: What are the new prices. Sure, there is a link component to the left, but nothing that indicate that these are related to the new pricing structure. It's just sloppy and poor UX in my opinion.

      Once you click in to see the pricing tables, you would expect to see the new prices and the old one for comparison, right? Nope. Atlassian shows only the new prices. If you are anything like me, then you never really pay attention to the actual price per tier, you know your monthly cost, right? So it would be nice with a place to see your new cost based on the new prices... but nope. You just have to wait for the next bill to see what the new price might be.

      As you can see, the start plans are going to be shafted once more. So if you have one, hold on to it because it looks like they will increase the price on that tier with 750%.
       
      Now, it is not very difficult to present the information on the increase in a more useful way. Just add the information on both the old and new price, along with the changes in both value and percentage. This is what Jira Cloud Standard looks like, for example, if you spend 2 minutes on it:

       
      I think this could be a problem because the person in charge of the INFORMATION is a designer used to work with PRESENTATION. Having tables that look good is one thing, answering the questions of the people looking for answers is another. If you present new prices that will affect people's decision to remain a client or not, then you better do better than this Atlassian.
      This was not good, so step it up.
      Ok?
    • By Jimi Wikman
      Hot off the press is the annual Gartner(r) Magic Quadrant(tm) for IT Service Management Tools: an in-depth analysis of the ITSM landscape, market direction, and vendor solutions available to customers. We’re pleased to announce that Gartner named Atlassian a Visionary in the 2021 edition of this report. This comes on the heels of Gartner recognizing Atlassian in the March 2021 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for IT Service Management Tools.
      As companies sprint to digitally transform, they are recognizing that every team has to operate with the same urgency and velocity. Development, IT operations, and business teams must come together to respond to business changes and deliver great digital service experiences fast – or they run the risk of going out of business. But traditional service management tools and processes hold teams back, keeping them in silos and limiting visibility. Modern times call for modern solutions. With more than 35,000 customers, Jira Service Management focuses on the convergence of digital experiences for development, operational, and business teams.
       

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