How Do You "let Down" The Customer?

Decorating By Rose_N_Crantz Updated 14 May 2010 , 3:50pm by Baker_Rose

Rose_N_Crantz Posted 9 May 2010 , 4:57pm
post #1 of 11

I'm working in a grocery store bakery. Everyday I get people coming in to order a cake and sometimes what they have in mind just isn't feasible. It helps that we have a book of designs and when I explain to them that we have to stick with the designs in the book as company policy, that tends to pacify them. But sometimes it's not an issue of "the company doesn't want me to do that, or it's against copyright law," but there simply is no way to do that here. I have limited supplies and resources.

An example, just yesterday a man came to pick up a cake and said it wasn't what he ordered. He got a cake with butterflies and daisies on it. He said he had ordered (over the phone) a colorful star cake. We don't do star cakes, there's no design, even an edible image, with stars on it. Everyone in the bakery that takes orders knows that. He insisted the person he talked to said we could do it. Now I don't believe him for a second, but I apologized for the confusion and said what I could do was take the butterflies off as they were plastic, and draw a couple stars on the cake.

He says "ok, and take the flowers off too." I tell him I can't "take them off" because they're frosting and it would leave a hole on the cake. So I just reiterate that I'll take the butterflies off and add some stars. As I walk away he says "fine, and take some of the flowers off too." I take the butterflies off, add the stars and give the cake back. He just kinda sighs and leaves with the cake.

I just don't understand what I was saying that was confusing. If I say I can't do something, I'm not lying. It's not that I just don't feel like doing it, there just really is no way to do it. How do you guys "let down" the customer? And respectfully so? Some people have asked, "well, I don't understand, why can't you just do that?" Do you all sit there and explain the cake making process so they understand, or do you just restate that it can't be done?

I need some help with learning how to talk to the customers or I just might go crazy this summer!

10 replies
indydebi Posted 9 May 2010 , 5:30pm
post #2 of 11

Yes, I explained the process to them. Educating the customer makes for a better customer in the long run.

A bride who wants 5 flavors of cake in a 5-tier cake. I'm happy to do it, but I explain that when there are 5 flavors, she is pretty much obligated to cut all 5 tiers and any cake she has leftover will be 5 partially cut tiers, which is harder to store/freeze; the more flavors, the more inclined people are to have more than one piece so she might need to consider spending more money for extra cake; how big is the cake table because she will need plenty of room for me to disassemble and lay out 5 tiers of cake and space to place the plates of cut cake (I cut the cake right out in the open .... no secret cuttings in the kitchen! Guests come to the cake table and help themselves to whatever flavor they want. As a buffet caterer, my pricing did not include staff to "serve" the cake to each person at the table).

When they asked for no border, I explained how the border covers the seam where the top and sides of the cake meet, so if they wanted no border "I'd have to work harder!" to make it smooth. I'm happy to do it, but it was just part of their education.

If they asked if I freeze my cakes, I'd say, "Absolutely!" and then explain the science behind how freezing makes a cake moister.

Seriously, most people love being educated .... they feel like they have the inside scoop! thumbs_up.gif

With all of this, I concede that there are some people who can't understand how an icepick can hurt unless you actually poke them in the eye with it, so this all becames a moot and debatable point! icon_lol.gif

metria Posted 9 May 2010 , 5:37pm
post #3 of 11

there's nothing wrong or confusing with what you said. in fact, you handled it perfectly. the customer you were speaking to, however, was actually a brick wall. it's very difficult to get through those! hope you don't hit too many of them icon_wink.gif

Toptier Posted 9 May 2010 , 6:48pm
post #4 of 11

Ha, people hear what they want to hear and don't hear what they don't want to hear...

sessac81 Posted 14 May 2010 , 3:28am
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

If they asked if I freeze my cakes, I'd say, "Absolutely!" and then explain the science behind how freezing makes a cake moister.




This is new to me (as is almost everything in the cake world icon_surprised.gif ). Can you educate me on that? How long and at what point do you freeze your cakes?

Thanks in advance icon_smile.gif

indydebi Posted 14 May 2010 , 3:49am
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by sessac81

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

If they asked if I freeze my cakes, I'd say, "Absolutely!" and then explain the science behind how freezing makes a cake moister.



This is new to me (as is almost everything in the cake world icon_surprised.gif ). Can you educate me on that? How long and at what point do you freeze your cakes?

Thanks in advance icon_smile.gif




Basically, the "going stale" process is halted when the cake is in the freezer, and it's accelerated when it's in the 'frig (something I learned from my fellow CC'ers! thumbs_up.gif )

Some info in this thread: http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-660837-freeze.html

and some good info from a number of CC'ers in this one:
http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-675046-freeze.html

LindaF144a Posted 14 May 2010 , 12:15pm
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by sessac81

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

If they asked if I freeze my cakes, I'd say, "Absolutely!" and then explain the science behind how freezing makes a cake moister.



This is new to me (as is almost everything in the cake world icon_surprised.gif ). Can you educate me on that? How long and at what point do you freeze your cakes?

Thanks in advance icon_smile.gif



Basically, the "going stale" process is halted when the cake is in the freezer, and it's accelerated when it's in the 'frig (something I learned from my fellow CC'ers! thumbs_up.gif )

Some info in this thread: http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-660837-freeze.html

and some good info from a number of CC'ers in this one:
http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-675046-freeze.html




Would this work the same for cupcakes?

I am leaving this afternoon to go visit my GD and son for the weekend - with no cupcakes. icon_redface.gif I didn't have time to make them yesterday. If I could have done it earlier in the week, I would have cupcakes in hand. I'm curious if you have tried this with cupcakes?

indydebi Posted 14 May 2010 , 1:01pm
post #8 of 11

I haven't tried it with cupcakes, but for my sampling appts, I'd bake one 8" square and cut it into 9 pieces; freeze them in a ziplok; remove one at a time as needed (thaw inside another ziplok). When asked to pick the frozen one over the freshly baked one, brides couldn't tell the difference.

So I'm assuming that 2.5"x2.5"x2" squares of cake would function the same as a cupcake. thumbs_up.gif

cheatize Posted 14 May 2010 , 2:32pm
post #9 of 11

I have frozen iced cupcakes before with no problem. If it makes any difference, my freezer is not frost free. In fact, it needs defrosted right now. Any takers? LOL

all4cake Posted 14 May 2010 , 2:48pm
post #10 of 11

what did the taken order have written down? Meat dept., demos, produce, even management would take orders and write down whatever the customer requested without knowing if it could be done or not (sometimes, the evening decorator would call in and well...you know what happens then....geez, even the 'bread' side of the bakery would pull that crap if they didn't want to be bothered....then, let us deal with it when the customer came to pick it up).

Baker_Rose Posted 14 May 2010 , 3:50pm
post #11 of 11

I've learned a few things from my years at grocery store bakeries. Sometimes the customer "acts" very disappointed so that management starts knocking money off the price.

I worked at one that had a policy that "everyone leaves satisfied". People knew this and used it to their advantage. Everyone who took cake orders in the bakery would initial the order form, so you knew who spoke with the customer. I myself took several orders, with very specific instructions and when I did the cake it was spot on. When the customer picked up the cake they INSISTED that they had ordered something else. Since the order form is signed we know who spoke with them. It's easy for the customer to "say" they ordered something when they spoke with a non-baker.

Needless to say, when customers acted like that about their orders the manager was called and you would be surprised how fast they were "satisfied" with this cake (that is SOOO wrong) when the store manager started knocking $10 increments off the price.

Your customer service will improve, don't be afraid to explain that you are limited to company policy. And it's always a good idea for EVERYONE in the bakery to sign every single order form so it is clear who spoke with the customer. That helps cover you when you get customers that insist they were told by a night cleaner that you could carve the Eifel Tower out of cake with Barney waving from the top!!

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