Just before Christmas I encountered an unhappy situation with a customer which got me thinking about what to do in the event of an unhappy customer.
When running any business the art of communication is vital. You really need to get this right. So just as cake decorating, cooking or baking is a skill so is communicating with the customer. Communication gains you the business or causes you to lose it.
Nobody raves about average so we have to have the right skills and good customer service lies at the heart of any business.
I do believe it is our attitude that helps us when we encounter a problem and have to deal with complaints later. Am I right?
Have you ever been upset with a product you purchased but, when you got there how you complained was mostly dependent on the way they treated you. If they were really nice you tended to be more patient and give them the benefit of setting things right; if not.. you got more upset. So in reality it depends on effective communication and customer service, right?
When I first started working as an employee the policy “the customer is always right” would always bug me. Sometimes it would bother me that the customer could NEVER loose face. We would accommodate as much as we could even when we knew the customer was taking advantage of our kindness, our generosity and sometimes even our patience. That was what our company policy was – the customer is the most important, no matter what. But is the customer ALWAYS right?
But, it’s only cake!
As with any business cooking, baking and cake decorating has to be conducted professionally. So, once you decide to do this as a business you are no longer just a Mum baking cakes or cooking anymore, you are a professional person and you have to conduct yourself professionally.
No matter how rude you think the customer is, you must remember that the customer speaks for himself as an individual not for all customers, you on the other hand speak for your business. What you say is perceived as you speaking on behalf of your business.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CUSTOMERS THAT WILL PLACE ORDERS.
- Some haven’t a clue what they want,
- Some will want everything but can’t afford anything,
- Some will want everything but are unaware of the efforts that goes into making it. (because they have never made or decorated a cake).
- Some will know exactly what they want and are willing to pay for it.
- Over pricing my products
- Under-pricing my products
- How much hourly wage should I charge?
- Am I marketing to the right people?
In my time as a business owner I have tried to extend to my customers kindness, generosity and patience as well as a thoroughly professional service. Almost a whole lifetime has been spent in the food trade in one way or another, parents who were chefs, working within the trade myself and married to a baker with 30 years experience. I consider my skills to be more than adequate – my passion and pleasure and love is extended to the customer and so far I have had no problems. Being very much a people-person and having taught for quite a number of years I do believe I can handle people well.
I’ve had one non-payer who soon coughed up once I politely reminded her that she owed me, but other than that I have been having a lovely time – busy with orders, enquiries and cookery lessons. It has been fabulous.
Therefore it came as a complete surprise to me when I found myself confronted by an unhappy customer!
It was strangeness of the situation that had me flummoxed.
Here is the scenario. Read it and think what you would say or would have said to the customer. What would your answer be? You may have a very different take on this topic and that’s ok. I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
The request came through on social media for 40 cake pops for Christmas Eve.
Customer – Hi I’m asking in behalf of my Aunty. Have you got any spaces free to make animal themed cake pops needed for Xmas eve but happy to have the a day or 2 before if they will last.
Me – Hello there I could make you some but probably for the 22nd or 23rd? If you could send me a photo of what you’d like then I can work out a price for you. Thank you for your enquiry. Look forward to hearing from you
PROFESSIONAL ME VS EMOTIONAL ME
I am a women of the heart, juggling home, husband, family and business.
It’s easy to get emotional and even more easy to get upset but I am also professional and just as I do everything in my power to provide a professional service I strive to be professional when it comes to effective communication and customer service too!
I want my a business to be a professional, successful one while still maintaining that softness where it matters most.
Last but not the least -I’d love to hear any experience you may have had with a customer that was beyond the ordinary. Was it a complaint that really got to you? Was it a cake order that took it’s toll? I love stories and oh boy you could spend an evening with me just laughing at my stories.