What you charge for products and services can be a sticky issue, even in the best of times. But when word spread that Sony had raised prices on Whitney Houston songs on iTunes in the U.K. the day after she died, there was instant backlash. Sony revoked the higher prices, saying the albums were \u201cmistakenly mispriced.\u201d\u00a0\n\tCompanies fiddle with price a lot. Walmart did lots of \u201crollbacks\u201d last year, cutting prices to yesteryear levels on basic items such as bed spreads and strollers. That didn\u2019t work out so well, so this week Walmart said it plans to reverse those rollbacks, raising prices.\u00a0The department store Kohl\u2019s, meanwhile, plans to cut prices this year, after increasing them last year. \u201cWe passed on higher apparel costs to customers,\u201d said Kevin\u00a0Mansell, chairman, president and CEO, in a call with analysts this week. \u201cWe did see resistance.\u201d\u00a0\n\tI\u2019ve written about howcompanies don\u2019t analyze pricingoptions thoroughly enough. There are many ways to use business intelligence to comb through the massive amounts of information they collect on marketing campaigns, customer interactions and sales performance. But often pricing decisions are based on gut and not grounded in data.\u00a0\n\tBalancing the science with the art is best. I like what Rafi Mohammed advises to avoid having your customers freak out about price changes. Mohammed is a pricing strategy consultant who recently wrote on the Harvard Business Review\u2019s blog that if companies such as Verizon and Bank of America had used more finesse in breaking the news\u00a0about their price hikes, they might have gotten them to stick.\u00a0\n\tVerizon announced in December it would charge customers $2 for doing one-time payments of bills online or by phone.\u00a0Bank of America had floated the idea of charging customers $5 for using their debit cards.\u00a0Both companies backpedaled after customers complained. Mohammed\u2019s advice for better reception: Explain why you\u2019re raising prices, offer choices and show how your product is still a good value.\u00a0\n\tThat\u2019s good, but messages like that can be stronger with data behind them. CIOs can provide analysis tools to uncover trends that, in the company\u2019s view, justify a price increase. Sorting through customer and transaction data may reveal new bundles of products and services to offer that get the price increase you want but also provide more valuable merchandise to customers. The marketing department doesn\u2019t always know what technology tools can do. The CIO should guide them. Then why not bring some of those findings directly to the public? People like a logical argument. With a data-based rationale, price hikes might go down more smoothly.