When Do You Draw The Line? Constant Customer Emails....

Decorating By JCE62108 Updated 20 Dec 2009 , 9:07pm by niccicola

JCE62108 Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 8:04pm
post #1 of 30

There are a few people Ive been dealing with over the last few months, who refuse to give me their phone number and insist on communicating through email. I try to encourage these people to set up a consultation either on the phone or in person, but a few have insisted on email communication only.

It is very difficult to figure anything out this way, plus it sucks up all my time. This one lady, it took over 40 emails, back and forth, and 3 days to finally come to a conclusion on what she wanted. I felt confidant that we had worked everything out and asked her, for the 3rd time probably, if she wanted to fill out a contract and put down a deposit to hold her event date. She told me she wasnt ready to commit yet. I just spent ALL that time with her and didnt get a thing out of it. What a waste. This was middle of November, and I still havent heard back.

One lady who insisted on doing everything through email, I actually got the sale and a few payments, so that's cool. BUT Ive never even heard the sound of her voice. I hate that.

This is wearing on me. I almost feel like if I get busier Im going to have to hire someone to deal with this solely. There has to be a better way though.

I dont want to keep doing this, but I dont want to loose a sale because Im not communicating with my customers...

How can I let them know I need to do things on the phone or in person?

Does anyone else have this problem with emails sucking away your life?

I feel like I need to draw the line here....but how do I tell my customers that without manking anyone upset and loosing the sale?

Its irritating my hubby too, bucause Im constantly on the computer. And I only do like, 4 or 5 cakes a month! Ridiculous.

Help! How do you handle all these questions. Do you communicate through email like this as well?

29 replies
Kitagrl Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 8:16pm
post #2 of 30

I like email....and I will email back and forth with a client as many times as it takes.

However, if they want alot of design input, I will often kindly just say "I will be happy to work with you on designing this cake after you put down the $50 deposit to hold your date." That way at least you know you are getting the order.

So my advice would be, yeah it can get wearing but if you start getting sick of it, just insist on a deposit before any more emails are traded, so at least you can be paid for your time.

sweetcakes Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 8:16pm
post #3 of 30

i have afew of those sometimes. Could you do just the basic cakes over email and require that cakes over a certain number of servings or price must be done in person or by phone. Do they tell you how many they want to serve cake to in their first email? if so then reply that they must contact you by phone asap to discuss their needs.

cownsj Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 8:18pm
post #4 of 30

It sounds to me like it could be a couple of things, other than a customer wanting to work out the details.
1. It could be competition learning as much as they can about you and your business.
2. It could be a customer getting info from you to use to get their cake elsewhere.

It just doesn't sound quite right to me.

indydebi Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 8:39pm
post #5 of 30

I'm with kita. If I could do everything via email, I'd be SUCH a happy little baker! icon_biggrin.gif (It helps that I am a speed reader and type something like 125 wpm, too!)

however......

If you're seriously going 40 emails with someone, I'd question how organized and how precise the emails from you are. Please understand that I have no idea what your communications are so I'm shooting in the dark, but everytime I see this kind of issue, that's usually what it ends up being.

If your emails are kind of rambling, that can contribute to the many many questions. "Well, I can do a chocolate with raspberry filling in a 6 and 10" tiers or I can do a raspberry cake with chocolate filling in a single 12" round, or we can do something totally different in a sculpted cake but that will cost more and it all depends on your budget so it depends on what kind of cake you want so you think this over and let me know hwat you think ....."

Huh? icon_confused.gif

Get precise in your emails.

"A 6"10" cake will serve 50 for $xx. A single 12" round will serve 56. I need to know what cake flavor and filling flavor you want. Sculpted cakes start at $150 and that's before I even pick up a pencil to get an idea of what you're looking for. So before we go any further at all, what is your budget and how many people do you need to serve?"

If she comes back with rambling ideas, you skip over it and re-ask, "Before we can go any further, I need to know what your budget is and how many people you need to serve." Period.

Dont' ramble. Don't discuss. Don't ask her to mull over 27 different options.

If you are very clear and precise in your emails, they will be forced to be clear and precise in theirs.

You need to be the one who controls the conversation. If I allow someone to take up 40 emails to share info that can be covered in 3, that's my fault, not theirs, for allowing myself to lose control and letting them ramble on and on, eating up my time.

For some reason, business writing doesnt' seem to be an important topic in schools anymore (which is why this high school grad gramma always had to correct the college grads' letters before they left the office! icon_mad.gif ), but when communicating in business, we dont' "write like we talk" .... get to the point, dont' ramble, and be precise.

Kitagrl Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 8:45pm
post #6 of 30

Good points Indy!!! I have noticed a few times I have had to send extra emails because I neglected to get certain information, which is totally my fault.

I read and type fast too, must be why I like email! Plus I can double check before I hit "send"...but when I talk on the phone, what I say is already said, no taking it back! haha.

WykdGud Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 8:52pm
post #7 of 30

I prefer that all of the correspondence be in email - that way there are no misunderstandings, as it's all in black and white.

indydebi Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 8:59pm
post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by WykdGud

I prefer that all of the correspondence be in email - that way there are no misunderstandings, as it's all in black and white.



Excellent point! thumbs_up.gif Even when I do have a conversation with a bride on the phone, I ALWAYS follow up with an email that starts "To confirm our conversation......". This email is then filed in her electronic folder on my computer.

cylstrial Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 9:06pm
post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by WykdGud

I prefer that all of the correspondence be in email - that way there are no misunderstandings, as it's all in black and white.


Excellent point! thumbs_up.gif Even when I do have a conversation with a bride on the phone, I ALWAYS follow up with an email that starts "To confirm our conversation......". This email is then filed in her electronic folder on my computer.




Definitely! And then you don't have to worry. If they say you did something wrong with the cake, you say, ok - here's the email, what did I do wrong again? icon_confused.gif

JCE62108 Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 9:22pm
post #10 of 30

You have good points Deb. I feel like I try to be precise and cover everything possible. There is only so much you can do to streamline things.

I also do the same thing with the folders.

Well i guess this is just how it is. I really like to be on the phone or in person though. Its just how I prefer to do business. Its more personable, IMO.

I guess I need to work on streamlining my conversations even more.

indydebi Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 9:52pm
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108

I really like to be on the phone or in person though.



I was teasing my sister-in-law when I found out she was the one who filled out the invite card to the family christmas party. "A phone number to RSVP?" I said. "Are you kidding? Who the heck uses the phone anymore? Where's the email address so I can RSVP that way!" icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Her daughter started laughing and said, "Mom's the other way ... mom keeps complaining "is EVERYTHING done on a computer now?" I looked at her and said, "Yes .... yes it is!"

Seriously, a phone call means I am going to be interrupted by whenever YOU decide to call me. An email I can read at my convenience. A phone call costs me money every time I dial, as it uses up my monthly minutes. An email is free. A phone call is not "more personal" to me.....a phone call is an inconvenience, an interruption and costly to me. None of those 3 put you in a good light to me, your customer.

As the sender, I can do an email in seconds .... a phone call takes me minutes. That might seem like a small thing to you, but it makes a big diff. It's why my family is on me, wanting me to get a text phone "....because texting is faster than a phone call." (I dont' text ... I email. I consdier a text the same as a phone call ... an interruption that costs me money as it eats up my monthly allocation. Emails I read when I sit down to check email ... text msgs and phone calls arrive while I'm driving! icon_mad.gif )

If it's life and death and you need the answer NOW, that's a different story, of course.

And at the end of our conversation, as the customer, I'm going to ask you to email me a confirmation of what we just agreed to, anyway, so you're going to email me anyway, so you're not saving anything. Might as well do it in writing from the git-go.

Also bear in mind that more and more business is being done electronically. Like it or not, we need to be up to speed on how the customer wants to communicate. It would be like someone saying "I think the phone is too impersonal...... I want my customers to actually drive to my shop and talk to me in person!" Aint' gonna work.

Obviously, there's no right or wrong answer to this as so much of it depends on personal preference. And I prefer it in writing.

It's not personal .... it's business! thumbs_up.gif

Mike1394 Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 10:25pm
post #12 of 30

[quote="indydebi"]

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108


Seriously, a phone call means I am going to be interrupted by whenever YOU decide to call me. An email I can read at my convenience. A phone call costs me money every time I dial, as it uses up my monthly minutes. An email is free. A phone call is not "more personal" to me.....a phone call is an inconvenience, an interruption and costly to me. None of those 3 put you in a good light to me, your customer.




AMEN I hate the phone anymore. 99% of the time I send someone to the depths of my Vmail. LOLOL

Mike

Doug Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 10:30pm
post #13 of 30

a few up to speed hints:

have prepared "canned" emails for initial responses

do NOT send word files (and even excel is dicey -- thank you MS for changing the file format -- if you must send old ".doc" or ".xcl" formats not the new .docx or .xclx"

BETTER yet -- send PDF -- these can be created as fill in the blank forms and they do NOT allow the customer to change any of your original wording -- just add their info.

if using Outlook or Incredimail -- set up folders for each contact and then set up a rule so the program autosorts the emails to correct folder -- easy to see who's sent you something -- even easier to ignore!

JCE62108 Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 11:00pm
post #14 of 30

I understand what you guys are saying. I am very computer literate. I just dont think its very professional to communicate this way with my customers. Thats it. That is just MY personsal opinion. For all other purposes I prefer it. I just hate dragging on an in-depth conversation this way. If I talk to you on the phone, the same conversation might take 20 minutes, in email it takes 3 days.

For chatting with family and friends, cool. Perfect. But, whatever. I guess I just have to figure out the best way to comminicate so that this doesnt suck up my life.

Doug, I like your idea. This might be a good idea for some purposes. Like I could create an email that asks all the basic questions when first coming in contact with a customer. That would be good. Then they can answer as much as they can at once and then we can fill in the blanks in future conversations.

Thanks for the advice. I swear I feel old. Like, I cant stand texting. And I look at all these kids doing it now, and its like wow. I was just in highschool, wasnt I? Oh yeah....8 years ago. I got to get up to speed with all this I guess.

pattycakesnj Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 11:08pm
post #15 of 30

I follow the customers lead, if they correspond thru email, I will do the same. If they phone, I will phone back. I always follow up at the end with email to confirm everything so there is no misunderstanding (even if everything else was on the phone)

JenniferMI Posted 12 Dec 2009 , 11:47pm
post #16 of 30

If you don't like it, put your foot down, YOU are the boss icon_smile.gif Tell them either you need a phone number or you can't help them.

Jen icon_smile.gif

WykdGud Posted 13 Dec 2009 , 12:23am
post #17 of 30

I have to say that when I do business online, I prefer to send emails as opposed to phoning in orders. It's easier to ask or answer questions and not feel stupid. Sometimes you don't know how to pronounce things (like fondant), or don't know exactly what you want - and when someone asks you on the phone, you may hem and haw... but if they send you an email, you can think it over (or look up the info online) before responding.

JCE62108 Posted 13 Dec 2009 , 2:03am
post #18 of 30

Yes, there are some benefits to it. My concern was the large amount of emails I receive, and the difficulty of answering them all, and trying to have an in-depth conversation that requires many emails.

Ok guys. I get it. Basically everyone goes through this the same way, only difference is most people prefer it and I dont. At least now I know this is a normal process.

Oh and Jen, lol, if I did that there are at least 6 other cake shops in the area that would love thier business. I gotta suck up, just a little bit, if I want to stay alive as a business.

Actually, I had a tasting and consultation the other day, where the girl had already been to cake shops all over my town and the next. And I wasnt even her last stop. After our consultation she went to another cake shop in the area. She liked mine the best though, woohoo!

Argh...anyways, thanks guys. Im still trying to figure out how to do all this on my own. Im still new. Ive only been a decorator for 2 years, and on my own for 8 months. So, yeah. Working on how to organize my information, emails, and time is a main priority right now.

aundrea Posted 13 Dec 2009 , 2:39am
post #19 of 30

i think if this is your business-you need to run it the best way for you.
if doing all business through emails isnt as convient as you would like then you need to find a happy medium.
try to work with your customers as best you can, but only you know how you will get the best product to them.
emails are good-for proof of information. but if your order requires additional contact then insist on a phone conversation.
good luck!

prterrell Posted 13 Dec 2009 , 8:32pm
post #20 of 30

You really shouldn't be having an in-depth convo about the cake without a signed contract and deposit.

JCE62108 Posted 13 Dec 2009 , 8:46pm
post #21 of 30

Thats how I feel too. But some customers Ive spoke with I think have no clue what they want, or want to feel confident that I can give them what they want before they commit. The lady Ive had 40 emails back and forth, I checked up on her today and she says she is still interested and wants the cake for sure, but its like pulling teeth to get her to commit.

AmyGonzalez Posted 13 Dec 2009 , 10:27pm
post #22 of 30

it's hard all the way around. People seem too busy now a days to do anything period. I think your just gonna have to find what works for you best, but with the buisness of selling cakes you may have to deal with phone, appts, emails, texts......whatever it takes to make a sell. Hang in there icon_smile.gif

summernoelle Posted 14 Dec 2009 , 2:43am
post #23 of 30

I prefer to do things through email. That was I have a record of everything they wanted and asked for. Sometimes it's nice to have that in case I did not write a detail on the order form, and other times its nice for CYA if a customer says you didn't give them something they asked for, and you have a record of the correspondence.

Regardless, though, do what your customer is most comfortable with. if they need to talk on the phone, talk to them. If they don't, don't.

Good luck!

erinalicia Posted 14 Dec 2009 , 11:32pm
post #24 of 30

I hate the phone. I ask my husband to make phone calls for me when I can't find the information I need online. But I do think that it shouldn't take 40 emails for someone to decide what kind of cake they want.

I have a friend who is wanting a cake for next weekend, she nearly drove me insane with the back and forth emails with just one line answers or questions, and then it was like she didn't even comprehend that I can't do a 3 tiered cake for 20 people. Come on! Some people are just dense.

Kiddiekakes Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 5:13pm
post #25 of 30

I actually love correspondence by email....It gives me time to think about what I need to ask and say and get pictures/ideas together to send.I'd much rather get emails than phone calls but that is just me...icon_smile.gif

masturbaker Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 9:13pm
post #26 of 30

JCE62108, I TOTALLY agree with you. I refuse to conduct business through email... I only use email sparingly, confirmation of info and things like that, or if the client is emailing me from work with last minute details or something. I would much rather have an intimate 20 minute converstion face to face or over the phone and get all the details worked out then have to back and forth with someone for 3 days via email!

You are So right.. do what I do and tell people who won't give you their number that you do not do business any other way. Email is terribly inconvenient and if it means losing the sale, then so be it.

As a side note, I'm not a "texter" 'tweeter" or any of that other nonsense. I think the technology that is supposed to bring people together is in fact taking us further apart. Everything is so impersonal now.. I'm all about the old fashioned telephone call or handwritten letter!

just my 2 cents!

indydebi Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 9:28pm
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by masturbaker

Email is terribly inconvenient ....



That is definitely a personal preference thing! thumbs_up.gif I finally ran thru my voicemails today .... some were from Friday. I tell everyone, "I'm rarely on the phone but I'm ALWAYS in email. If you need to get ahold me of NOW, then send me an email." icon_lol.gif

And I'd much rather send one email and wait for a response than play telephone tag with voicemail!

JCE62108 Posted 15 Dec 2009 , 11:17pm
post #28 of 30

Your right. It is personal. But you know, during the last two weeks, three times I was turned away from a phone call and told to look the information up online. SERIOUSLY? These people are TELLING me to take my money elsewhere because they dont have the time for me. If I did this to my customers, I wonder how many would get frustrated and go somewhere else. Argh. Honestly I dont get it.

Anyway, with Debi's wonderful help, I am working on some "canned emails", as you guys call them. icon_wink.gif Ive used one for 3 customers so far, and really it makes a big difference.

masturbaker Posted 16 Dec 2009 , 7:32am
post #29 of 30

Yes,. Indydebi, you're right... it is a matter of preference. I'm not a fan of email, but it sounds like the way you prefer to do things. Ultimately the only thing anyone can do is what's best for them...[/list][/quote]

niccicola Posted 20 Dec 2009 , 9:07pm
post #30 of 30

[quote="Mike1394"]

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCE62108


Seriously, a phone call means I am going to be interrupted by whenever YOU decide to call me. An email I can read at my convenience. A phone call costs me money every time I dial, as it uses up my monthly minutes. An email is free. A phone call is not "more personal" to me.....a phone call is an inconvenience, an interruption and costly to me. None of those 3 put you in a good light to me, your customer.



AMEN I hate the phone anymore. 99% of the time I send someone to the depths of my Vmail. LOLOL

Mike




YESSSS all of my customer inquiries via phone go straight to the answering machine. It doubles as a house phone (domestic bakery owner) so if my husband or I don't recognize the number, straight to voice mail.

Email all the way. i even took my phone number off my website to eliminate phone calls but unfortunately, every free wedding planning site i'm on has a phone number, not to mention my business cards!

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%