Kitagrl Posted 16 May 2011 , 3:14am
post #1 of

Lately it seems there's been several threads with bakers who feel their customer is rude for not being pleased with a cake that was not decorated perfectly to specifications, but that the customer instead should have been happy enough that the cake was "still a great cake".

I'm totally not trying to blast anyone in particular, as a matter of fact, I cannot even remember who posted what or when.

Before I say anything else, let me say, I make my share of mistakes. I make MORE than my share of mistakes. However, if our mistakes directly go against what our customers order and paid for with hard-earned money, then it is our job to do whatever it takes, and lose whatever money it takes, to show that we are sorry.

When people hire us, they are hiring us to serve them. We are not doing these people a favor. Now, the perk of this job is, when we do a really good job, they usually thank us as if we've done them a favor! LOL! But in reality...we are performing a service that many of us charge quite a bit of money for. If the customer wants this, that, and the other, for $250, then it is our JOB to make SURE that customer gets this, that, and the other, for their $250 (which is a lot of money to me for cake, even though I charge it without batting an eyelash, I'd sure bat an eyelash to pay it!).

It is unfair to get mad when our customers are displeased that we thought it would be "okay" if something they wanted on their cake didn't quite make it there. Or if things are falling off the cake. Or if we ran out of time and substituted something without asking permission. Or delivered late without a super good reason....or any other mistakes that can happen. Again, mistakes happen...BUT....we as decorators should not be too proud to admit them, apologize for them, and make it right...and then strive not to repeat the error.

I guess I just wanted to remind all of us (myself included) to stay professional and to remember we should give our customers as good of service as we expect when we pay money for something. If I go out to dinner, I want my food hot and delicious and prompt. If I stay at a hotel, I want it clean and comfortable. And our customers should get professional service from us, as close to perfection as we can possibly manage...and own up to it immediately if we cannot for some reason or other.

I know there are lots of annoying customers out there....I get my share too!!!! But sometimes that happens...and to an extent, we are being paid to make our customers happy, even if they aren't the sort we'd want as our best friends.

Happy caking!

140 replies
cownsj Posted 16 May 2011 , 3:32am
post #2 of

Where is the like button? thumbs_up.gif

Dani1081 Posted 16 May 2011 , 3:33am
post #3 of

I completely agree. Well said. If we make an agreement with someone and they pay us for that agreement, it's on us if we can't or don't deliver and We have to make it right with THEM. It's not "good enough" if it's not what they ordered.

crp7 Posted 16 May 2011 , 3:41am
post #4 of

I agree. I do not do cakes professionally but I read a lot of posts on here that make me wonder why the poster does make cake for a living. All they do is complain about what the customers ask for.

crisseyann Posted 16 May 2011 , 3:54am
post #5 of

Also hitting the non-existant LIKE button! icon_biggrin.gif

scp1127 Posted 16 May 2011 , 3:57am
post #6 of

People don't realize how much an inferior product or "not as expected" cakes kill their business. There are some bakers who are businesspeople first, Kitagrl being one of those bakers. It does not matter what industry you are in, the customer must be satisfied. I have a satisfaction guarantee and I wouldn't do business any other way. All of these customers that receive a less than expected cake not only don't come back, but tell everyone every time cake comes up for years... "Don't go to ____, go to anyone else". And it doesn't matter the size of the area. The good news is that as long as bakers disregard the value of the customer, these customers allow another baker's business to grow.

Before you print your business cards, read a few books on marketing. People think because they took a few Wilton classes, they are now in business. It doesn't work that way.

AnotherCaker Posted 16 May 2011 , 4:00am
post #7 of

Yep, great post. I see a lot of 'biting off more than one can chew' a lot lately too. Is it also a matter of newbie decorators/less experienced people having a virtual chip on their shoulder, assuming any complaint is unwarranted and the complainer is trying to pull a fast one? Meaning, they read some of the stories on here about legitimate scammers and bridezillas, and they think they (decorator) can do no wrong, and if someone challenges them, it's made up and baseless?

Sometimes, you just make a sucky cake. Better to bend over backwards for the person, look a what you probably did wrong, and never do it again. And come here to do your venting. Never to the client. Never ever ever.

I blame Wilton and their expanding line of "instant decorator in a box" products. icon_biggrin.gif

FromScratchSF Posted 16 May 2011 , 4:15am
post #8 of

<LIKE>!

I just got back from having my baby and I swear there was a thread that is still chapping my butt from several days ago - I think I'm glad I went into labor to keep me from getting sucked further into it!

Well said, and thanks!

Jen

indydebi Posted 16 May 2011 , 4:22am
post #9 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

People think because they took a few Wilton classes, they are now in business. It doesn't work that way.


thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

My favorite story that was posted on CC was the person who said she had just taken her first wilton class and had just made her first cake and was excited and wanted to start a bakery. "What do I do first?"

I WANTED to reply, "get about 10 years experience first, and get another 5-10 years business experience under your belt." icon_eek.gif

You are so right .... loving to decorate cakes and loving to run your own business are two TOTALLY different things!

NanaSandy Posted 16 May 2011 , 4:28am
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

<LIKE>!

I just got back from having my baby and I swear there was a thread that is still chapping my butt from several days ago - I think I'm glad I went into labor to keep me from getting sucked further into it!

Well said, and thanks!

Jen




Congrats on the new baby!!

pmarks0 Posted 16 May 2011 , 4:32am

I have nothing to add to the theme of this post. I just wanted to tell Jen CONGRATULATIONS!!! icon_biggrin.gif

Pam

Gerle Posted 16 May 2011 , 4:37am

I don't have anything to add to this thread as I'm not in the cake baking business (just a hobbyist!), but also wanted to say congrats to Jen on her newest family member. Now take some time to relax and take care of yourself and your little bundle of joy.

FromScratchSF Posted 16 May 2011 , 4:37am

Aw, I didn't mean to hijack! But thanks!!!!

Jen

bohemiagetsajob Posted 16 May 2011 , 4:51am

I have to agree. I am a hobby baker and decorator but I am also a customer. I see so many stories of legitimate customer complaints being handled with the "You'll take what you get and like it" type attitude. It has made me leary about ordering custom cakes.

scp1127 Posted 16 May 2011 , 6:33am

Congrats Jen!!! Start a new thread and tell us about the baby!!!!!

And Debi, I did see that post. But then again, I'm sure you've seen it more than once. Sometimes I think this site is the biggest breeding ground for illegal bakers and the "business" bandwagon. Then they ask for advice and don't like what they hear... you need a license, you need business experience, you need to practice more. When I see these posts now and they start balking at the advice they don't want to hear, I don't even try to help. But then there are all the readers who never post... they deserve good information even if the OP doesn't like it. I read this site for over a year before I joined. I was reading your advice and copying posts while I planned my bakery. So we can't discount the readers.

Kitagrl Posted 16 May 2011 , 12:58pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by bohemiagetsajob

I have to agree. I am a hobby baker and decorator but I am also a customer. I see so many stories of legitimate customer complaints being handled with the "You'll take what you get and like it" type attitude. It has made me leary about ordering custom cakes.




I agree totally...and lots of stories about cakes falling...now cakes do fall!!!!! I think it happens to everyone at one point. But sometimes I wonder if too many structural mistakes are being blamed on the customer's driving.

I know around here, there are potholes and road construction and all sorts of stuff and if my structure is not right, I can totally see my cake falling or sliding, if not assembled sturdily enough.

Again, not saying we aren't allowed to make mistakes....just saying as professionals we shouldn't blame the customer for our mistakes.

LindaF144a Posted 16 May 2011 , 12:58pm

Well said one and all.

We really do need a like button, as I was feeling the same way as kitagrl.

<Love> kitagrl, Thank you for putting into words what I was feeling.

scp1127 - you are so right. Customer Service is #1 before baking and cake decorating. Without it you have nothing.

cakegrandma Posted 16 May 2011 , 1:53pm

Customer service is right for without the customer we would have no business. We should try to "do it right" and if we fail then we need to make amends for it. It is easy to blame the customer for the cake falling or decorations falling off as they don't drive correctly. In reality, we should examine how it was structured and how we attach decorations. What did we do that was not sufficient? I agree, there are many customers that try to get something for nothing and would find fault with every cake they get but, try to please them and if it consistently is wrong, have no openings for the day they want a cake. We can't control everyone's opinions, thoughts or actions but, if we strive to do it right the first time then the complaints should be few.
Bad words spread quicker in business than the good ones. If you've given them the product they are looking for then they won't be calling, emailing or giving bad reviews. If you make a mistake let them know ahead of time and see what they would like you to do. Maybe having made a yellow cake won't be too much of a problem if they know about ahead of time and do something to value them as a customer. Maybe a % off their next cake? Take care of them, you don't like it if your stuff isn't right, the plumber left a mess when he was at your house. Treat others as you would liked to be treated as a customer, it helps immensely.
evelyn

indydebi Posted 16 May 2011 , 7:07pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakegrandma

Bad words spread quicker in business than the good ones.



Just 2 days ago, I was sharing the story of how one florist pi$$ed me off while I was planning my daughter's wedding and that was 10 years ago!! Little did either of us know at the time that I would be in a business position to recommend florists to brides and I would sometimes tell them "Don't use blah blah florist and here's why!"

Ten. Years. Later.

bobwonderbuns Posted 16 May 2011 , 7:20pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by cakegrandma

Bad words spread quicker in business than the good ones.


Just 2 days ago, I was sharing the story of how one florist pi$$ed me off while I was planning my daughter's wedding and that was 10 years ago!! Little did either of us know at the time that I would be in a business position to recommend florists to brides and I would sometimes tell them "Don't use blah blah florist and here's why!"

Ten. Years. Later.




Those are the kind of stories that worry me -- I had a rash of b*tchy brides lately, none of whom I did business with (thankfully!) but they are just the kind to go around badmouthing anyone who didn't please them. Myself included! icon_confused.gif Oh well, it is what it is. icon_rolleyes.gif

kristiemarie Posted 16 May 2011 , 7:29pm

Well, unfortunately, whether the customer is right doesn't matter...either the customer is right or they don't come back!

When I start selling, I will NOT be selling wedding cakes. Too much pressure for me right now.

I think that is what people need to realize...their limitations. I have ideas and grand plans in my head about things but what we can see in our minds eye and what we can do are often two different things. We come here as newbies and see tutorials and it's like "Wow, that's easy!" but forget that the people doing the tuts have been doing it for years!

I don't (or try not to) delude myself into thinking I can get it right the first (or second or tenth!) time around.

Not many people are naturals....most of us have had to work for it!!!

Kitagrl Posted 16 May 2011 , 8:03pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by kristiemarie

Well, unfortunately, whether the customer is right doesn't matter...either the customer is right or they don't come back!

When I start selling, I will NOT be selling wedding cakes. Too much pressure for me right now.

I think that is what people need to realize...their limitations. I have ideas and grand plans in my head about things but what we can see in our minds eye and what we can do are often two different things. We come here as newbies and see tutorials and it's like "Wow, that's easy!" but forget that the people doing the tuts have been doing it for years!

I don't (or try not to) delude myself into thinking I can get it right the first (or second or tenth!) time around.

Not many people are naturals....most of us have had to work for it!!!




I don't think wedding cakes are as stressful as some of the party cakes I've done...

theresaf Posted 16 May 2011 , 8:07pm

I am new at the cake decorating part, for fun, but have been the owner of another business for more than 20 years and my original education is advertising and marketing. Hard as it is to swallow, there are times that you have to decide that you cannot take on a particular customer. You know just from your 'intake' with them that you will be unable to please them. That's true whether you are making them a cake or selling them a pair of pants. You need to decide when to part ways before everyone is invested. And there are times to 'take the loss' because it is good PR. I am happy to see that so many share the same opinion!

kristiemarie Posted 16 May 2011 , 8:08pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

Quote:
Originally Posted by kristiemarie

Well, unfortunately, whether the customer is right doesn't matter...either the customer is right or they don't come back!

When I start selling, I will NOT be selling wedding cakes. Too much pressure for me right now.

I think that is what people need to realize...their limitations. I have ideas and grand plans in my head about things but what we can see in our minds eye and what we can do are often two different things. We come here as newbies and see tutorials and it's like "Wow, that's easy!" but forget that the people doing the tuts have been doing it for years!

I don't (or try not to) delude myself into thinking I can get it right the first (or second or tenth!) time around.

Not many people are naturals....most of us have had to work for it!!!



I don't think wedding cakes are as stressful as some of the party cakes I've done...




I just don't want to be the one who ruins someone's wedding. They tend to be bigger than party cakes and I don't have much experience in large cakes.

Chef_Stef Posted 16 May 2011 , 8:12pm

Well said!! Don't take the order if you can't feel ABSOLUTELY sure that you can pull off the design they want, and have it look as good or better than the original, AND make them thrilled that they spent all that hard earned cash on a cake! If they show me a design I'm not positive I can thrill them (and myself) with, I design them something *similar* that I can really rock. I also like a challenge, but I still don't say yes unless I'm sure I can figure it out before the wedding. icon_cool.gif

I love my brides. I love their cakes. I love their designs. I take care that every cake I do is my new Favorite Cake Ever, and I want them to feel like it's the best cake they've ever seen or tasted, and that they got my absolute best work. They are definitely paying for nothing less.

*like*! thumbs_up.gif

Baker_Rose Posted 16 May 2011 , 8:27pm

Indydeb's Ten. Years. Later. reminds me of a similar story I still tell 24 years later!!! I was in the drive thru of a certain ice cream/hamburger chain's restaurant ordering a chocolate cone with chocolate sprinkles. I noticed the back door propped open and the owners daughter sitting on a stack of buckets decorating the ice cream cakes. Piping bag in hand.

Pipe on the cake, squirt in the mouth (lips touching the tip!!!), pipe on the cake, tip in the mouth. In full view of everyone driving through the drive-thru!!!

Needless to say that was the last time I ordered anything there, and the owner is still the same, so I continue to tell the story. Especially to new cake decorators or bakery workers to teach BASIC sanitation DON'Ts.

Tami

scp1127 Posted 17 May 2011 , 2:54am

There is a great book that just came out. It is called "Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000", by Pete Blackshaw.

DSmo Posted 17 May 2011 , 3:13am

So glad I came across this post! You took the words right out of my mouth. There's been an increasing number of "vents" on here, and I'd say probably 75% of them are people trying to make excuses for their own mistakes and blame it all on the customer. We have become a society of "It's not my fault." (don't even get me started on youth sports!) Anyway, difficult customer or not, people need to own up to their errors and do what's right for the customer. Let's not forget if it weren't for the customer there would be no business!

jenmat Posted 17 May 2011 , 3:30am

Well said, of course. While I don't mind taking my potato chips and settling back for a good read when the post says "vent" icon_smile.gif, there have been more and more where I'm screaming at the screen , "NO WAY, you delivered THAT?!"

OK, too harsh, I know. I have had my share of vents on here, but while I may vent about a customer's behavior, I have always made sure they have the absolute best cake I can produce, AND that they never know I was less than happy to serve with a smile.

I think for home-based (licensed) businesses, it is even MORE crucial to gain the customer's respect by delivering above and beyond their expectations, simply because we have a HOME studio.

While a customer can annoy me, and I can whine about it, it is still MY responsibility to produce a top quality product. And if I took their order, it is MY fault if I bit off more than I can chew, and then I need to "take it like a gal" and do whatever it takes to produce. I think we all need time to vent, but then to look at the part we play in any unfortunate situation, and to learn and grow from it.

And I STILL haven't taken that Wilton course. Maybe I should...

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 17 May 2011 , 3:42am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitagrl

Lately it seems there's been several threads with bakers who feel their customer is rude for not being pleased with a cake that was not decorated perfectly to specifications, but that the customer instead should have been happy enough that the cake was "still a great cake".

I'm totally not trying to blast anyone in particular, as a matter of fact, I cannot even remember who posted what or when.

Before I say anything else, let me say, I make my share of mistakes. I make MORE than my share of mistakes. However, if our mistakes directly go against what our customers order and paid for with hard-earned money, then it is our job to do whatever it takes, and lose whatever money it takes, to show that we are sorry.

When people hire us, they are hiring us to serve them. We are not doing these people a favor. Now, the perk of this job is, when we do a really good job, they usually thank us as if we've done them a favor! LOL! But in reality...we are performing a service that many of us charge quite a bit of money for. If the customer wants this, that, and the other, for $250, then it is our JOB to make SURE that customer gets this, that, and the other, for their $250 (which is a lot of money to me for cake, even though I charge it without batting an eyelash, I'd sure bat an eyelash to pay it!).

It is unfair to get mad when our customers are displeased that we thought it would be "okay" if something they wanted on their cake didn't quite make it there. Or if things are falling off the cake. Or if we ran out of time and substituted something without asking permission. Or delivered late without a super good reason....or any other mistakes that can happen. Again, mistakes happen...BUT....we as decorators should not be too proud to admit them, apologize for them, and make it right...and then strive not to repeat the error.

I guess I just wanted to remind all of us (myself included) to stay professional and to remember we should give our customers as good of service as we expect when we pay money for something. If I go out to dinner, I want my food hot and delicious and prompt. If I stay at a hotel, I want it clean and comfortable. And our customers should get professional service from us, as close to perfection as we can possibly manage...and own up to it immediately if we cannot for some reason or other.

I know there are lots of annoying customers out there....I get my share too!!!! But sometimes that happens...and to an extent, we are being paid to make our customers happy, even if they aren't the sort we'd want as our best friends.

Happy caking!





THANK YOU!!! Couldn't have said it any better. thumbs_up.gif

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