Minor Vent... Advice Welcome...

Business By TexasCakes77 Updated 24 Aug 2011 , 2:43pm by ncsmorris

TexasCakes77 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 2:06pm
post #1 of 39

I have been making cakes for over 6 years so I have a little experience. Recently I had a customer complain that the cake was 'too dry' and her email was particularly condescending and snarky. I saved some of the cake scraps from that cake and I didn't find it dry at all, it was fudgy like a brownie, so I have no idea what she is talking about!!

The only thing I can think of is it was very dense b/c I do not use boxed mixes and all of my cakes are from scratch - and there is a definate distinction between the two kinds. Scratch cakes are usually very dense - but I will not use boxed mixes b/c they are too light anf fluffy and airy and I can't work with a cake like that without it turning into a near cake distaster with something large and/or sculpted - or anything really - I just do not like working with them.

I get that most people are so accustomed to boxed mixes and sams and costco that a real homemade cake would seem thick and overwhelming - but geez - it's frustrating when someone says cake is dry! It's not a custard! They never ordered a tres leches! It's a normal cake - it's a sponge! What do people expect????

She was overly worrisome and naggy the entire process and would call me over the tiniest things that popped in her head so I am just going to assume she was going to find something wrong with it no matter what.

I woulld appreciate any comments of similar experiences and/or advice on how to deal with people like this. This was the first for me that complained so rudely.

Thanks!

38 replies
LKing12 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 2:25pm
post #2 of 39

Did you tell her that your from scratch cakes are sponge, or was she disappointed that she didn't get what she expected?

TexasCakes77 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 2:32pm
post #3 of 39

Well, it wasn't literally a sponge cake, I was just saying...

It was a normal cake recipe, one that I have used for a while. This complaint has me upset, should I find a new cake recipe, or was it just this one person? I am just not sure. How can you please everyone, is it even possible... sigh...

sharon24 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 2:45pm
post #4 of 39

I wouldn't worry and as you say you can't please everyone. I would not be changing my recipe for one complaint.

TexasCakes77 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 2:50pm
post #5 of 39

Sometimes it is just so frustrating to have to think of all the little details that go into a cake, and have to explain why and how you do things. You know? It's like, these people do not do this for a living, I would love to see them try - and they are so quick to be so rude and critical.

Maybe my skin is too thin. I had to explain that my cakes are dense - and decorating a light fluffy cake the way I decorate is sometimes not even possible. Maybe to some people it is easy - who knows. It could just be me. I guess I am just annoyed that I am having to explain my techniques and reasoning behind them to someone who can't make a cake. I guess it's insulting. I better get used to complaints, I'm sure this won't be the last person who likes to nitpick.

cakegrandma Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 3:08pm
post #6 of 39

I wouldn't change recipes unless you are looking for another recipe to begin with. As for your customer, as others have said, she is probably not used to the scratch cake you make. I would as her to return the uneaten portion of the cake to determine exactly how much has been eaten. I would offer compensation according to how much is returned. She probably is just a nit picker and would not sell to her again.
evelyn

cakesbycathy Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 3:19pm
post #7 of 39

If she's been a real PITA the whole time you can simply just ignore the email and put her on the "no cakes for you" list

Or you can send a polite but short email:
I'm sorry to hear that you were not completely satisfied with your cake. I did taste scraps from the cake to ensure it's quality before delivering it to you. Scratch cakes can have a different texture than cakes made from box mixes or those from a grocery store bakery that you may have had in the past.
Thank you for your feedback.

TexasCakes77 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 3:29pm
post #8 of 39

Thanks for the advice, everyone. I did send her an email, politely explaining that my cakes are very dense and as a result can feel dry when compared to boxed mixes or store cakes. I told her I have never had a complaint before but in the future will advise customers the type of cakes I produce. There may be more like her out there that prefer the 'other cakes'. Something tells me I need to start determining a policy and procedure for unsatisfied and/or difficult customers.

What do you guys typically do for unsatisfied customers? I'm just afraid to get into a refund policy b/c I know there are people out there who will complain for no reason other than to get "free cake". Am I right?

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 3:35pm
post #9 of 39

You're right that you can't please everyone. Everyone has different tastes and expectations when it comes to food. That said, I think most people, when they take the time to complain, mainly just want to be heard. Especially if she didn't ask for a refund or anything.

I would definitely email something back, not just ignore it altogether. Make sure your email is polite, professional, and not defensive. Don't accept any blame, as it sounds like you did nothing wrong and it's just a case of differing tastes. But do let her know you care that she was not satisfied and that you are listening to her feedback.

You might even offer her a discount on a future order or some other small thing, something that doesn't cost you much, but is a gesture of good will. Ultimately it's up to you what concessions you want to make, but if you just give a little, you might be able to salvage a customer relationship. In the end, she may just not like your particular style of cakes, which is fine. Not everyone is our customer! HTH!

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 3:44pm
post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasCakes77

What do you guys typically do for unsatisfied customers? I'm just afraid to get into a refund policy b/c I know there are people out there who will complain for no reason other than to get "free cake". Am I right?




Yeah, I have been wondering the same thing. I know some say that you should give them all of their money back if they are unsatisified, but that seems like a slippery slope to me.

What if you do nothing wrong, but your customer is not satisfied simply because they didn't like your particular type of baking (i.e. denser, heavier cakes as opposed to light, airy cake, as in your situation)? Does that mean you have to give them all their money back? It's not your fault they are used to a different type of cake. If I go to a restaurant and try their food, and find it's not to my liking, not because they did anything wrong, but it's simply a matter of differing taste, I simply decide not to order that food again.

To me the only time you should refund everything is when you have clearly done something wrong, and it's totally your fault, like if you don't build in the proper supports and a cake collapses, for example.

TexasCakes77 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 4:13pm
post #11 of 39

Thank you so much for your input. I agree completely. The cake was just as cute as can be and I wasn't unhappy with any aspect of it. I don't send anything out unless I feel I have done my best and it is as close to perfect as possible. It looked great and I was proud of it.

I just will never be available for this woman again - if she ever contacts me for cake in the future.

cakestyles Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 7:43pm
post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasCakes77

Thanks for the advice, everyone. I did send her an email, politely explaining that my cakes are very dense and as a result can feel dry when compared to boxed mixes or store cakes. I told her I have never had a complaint before but in the future will advise customers the type of cakes I produce.




I would word this differently, because in essence you're validating her complaint that the cake was "dry".

You can say that the texture is different or that the mouth feel is different but I wouldn't say it "can feel dry".

scp1127 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 3:38am
post #13 of 39

I must completely disagree that a scratch cake is dry compared to a box mix. No cake should be dry. If your cake is dry, you need a new recipe. I have scratch cakes that are light as air and ones that are amazingly dense. I can manipulate the recipe to be anything I want, but all will be pleasing to the palate. But none give a dry mouth feel. A scratch cake should be good to everyone. The flavor may be something that someone dislikes, but if they like raspberry, then they should like your raspberry cake.

I do have a total satisfaction policy. When someone pays a premium price for a cake, they deserve to like it. It is our job. Tht person will tell so many people that your cake ws dry and that you would not stand behind the product. Again, dissatisfied customers are someone else's future customers. And the negative feedback will go on for years.

No cake should ever be dry.

cakestyles Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 10:57am
post #14 of 39

In a lot of cases I bet it's that the cake was baked too long, and not the recipe.

It takes time to familiarize ourselves with the recipes that we use. Some of my recipes I judge "doneness" (like that word? lol) anyway I judge by touch, some by smell and some by pricking.

Not all scratch cakes are dense, my white recipe, which has taken me many trials to perfect over the years, is very light and fluffy and not dry at all.

Some are dense, some are light but none of them are dry.

scp1127 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 11:07am
post #15 of 39

Exactly, cakestyles. A dry cake is clearly a cake that should not ever be sold.

costumeczar Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:19pm
post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasCakes77

Thank you so much for your input. I agree completely. The cake was just as cute as can be and I wasn't unhappy with any aspect of it. I don't send anything out unless I feel I have done my best and it is as close to perfect as possible. It looked great and I was proud of it.

I just will never be available for this woman again - if she ever contacts me for cake in the future.




You said that the cake scraps were fine, so the cake was probably fine, too. People confuse "moist" with "Gummy" because the boxed mixes have gums and fillers in them to make the texture consistent between bakers,and that's what a lot of people are used to.

You also said that this woman was a PITA from the beginning, so what I would do is tell her that you're sorry that she wasn't happy with the cake, but based on the recipe that you use and the scraps that you cut off of the cake, it was baked correctly according to the recipe that you use. Because of that, she probably is looking for a boxed mix cake, not a scratch cake, and she'd be happier going to a different baker who uses mixes in the future.

scp1127 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 12:54pm
post #17 of 39

The OP said the cake was "dry compared to a box". I still feel strongly that cake and dry don't mix. Even my delicate cakes do not come across as dry. And scratch should not be compared to a box. Both are different. If you can't bake better than the box, don't sell scratch cakes. This perpetuates the idea that some people prefer box. I'll take a box any day over a bad scratch cake.

costumeczar Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 4:18pm
post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

The OP said the cake was "dry compared to a box". I still feel strongly that cake and dry don't mix. Even my delicate cakes do not come across as dry. And scratch should not be compared to a box. Both are different. If you can't bake better than the box, don't sell scratch cakes. This perpetuates the idea that some people prefer box. I'll take a box any day over a bad scratch cake.




Right, but if people are used to getting their cakes at grocery stores or wherever, they'll think that "moist"="gummy" and "dry" ="dense", know what I mean? The OP said that the cake scraps weren't dry, so I'd assume that the cake was fine. It's not a dry vs.moist problem, it's a terminology problem.

I'm with you that good scratch cake isn't dry, but the OP said that the scraps were good.

TexasCakes77 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 4:20pm
post #19 of 39

Like I stated earlier, I had cake scraps leftover from that cake - and it was fudgy like a brownie, it was NOT dry at all. It was my assumption that she interpreted the density as "dry". I don't make cakes that are light and fluffy, I don't like working with them b/c I worry that the structure of it isn't sound when making a complicated or unusual design. I have experienced cake disasters like light fluffy cakes and it isn't worth the worry for me. That is just the type of product I prefer to produce.

If people do not like my density, then they can go to costco, or walmart, or buy a betty crocker box - b/c it is my personal opinion that I should be able to make whatever type of product I want to represent in my business. If not everyone likes it, there are plenty other bakers in the sea for them. I would never have categorized that fudgy cake as dry. Was it a stout cake, yes. That is my product. I don't sell blindly, I tried that cake and I know what she received from me and I stand by it.

I am beyond annoyed though, b/c I know for a fact "dryness" wasn't the issue. She never responded either, b/c I explained I do make dense cakes and their is a definatie difference between mine and the store bought and boxed mixes that she may be accustomed to. I asked her at what temperature she served it. Sometimes cakes that are cold can be unpleasing - and I specifically told her it will be best at room temperature. She was worried about the heat factor and melting b/c our weather out here is very hot right now. I told her refrigerate it if she was worried and then set it out - give it an hour or an hour and a half before serving to lose its chill. I can almost bet you she was paranoid and set it out and served straight from the fridge - just making an already dense cake, even denser. She never responded to me which tells me that it was cold when she served it.

I most certainly do not put out an unacceptable product. Some people just like to complain, plain and simple.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 4:52pm
post #20 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar


Right, but if people are used to getting their cakes at grocery stores or wherever, they'll think that "moist"="gummy" and "dry" ="dense", know what I mean? The OP said that the cake scraps weren't dry, so I'd assume that the cake was fine. It's not a dry vs.moist problem, it's a terminology problem.




Exactly. I am convinced that people who are not "cake people" like us don't always know how to describe the taste, texture, and moisture content of a cake. As costumeczar said, they taste a cake that is dense and solid and translate it to mean the cake is dry, when nothing could be further from the truth.

TexasCakes77 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 4:56pm
post #21 of 39

Just having time to think about it, I don't see why I shold worry about changing a recipe b/c ONE person complained. Obviously everyone has different preferences in taste and texture. If we had to make sure to please everyone we would be changing our recipes on a constant basis.

How many products constanltly change their recipe for the people who don't like it? There are people that do - and changing for the ones who don't like it - you may lose the people who do like it. I personally do not like hershey's chocolate at all - but that doesn't mean I am going to try a new candy they produce and blast the company hoping they change their recipe. I tried it, I don't like it. They are popular too, so just b/c my palate doesn't approve, it doesn't matter. I simply don't buy it for myself. Problem solved.

I've eaten at a restaurant where their chocolate cake tasted badly of freezer burn! I tried it, I didn't care for it one bit. I pushed it away and I will never order it again. Did I pull the waitress over and then berate the chef responsible for either making it or freezing it? NO. I paid $7.00 for that piece of cake too, and I can guarantee you my serving per slice of my fudgy dense cake was FAR less then their $7 a slice of bad cake. THAT is premium priced and I don't feel the need to blast people over it.

I understand about making customers happy - but let's face it, sometimes their is NO pleasing some people. That's why they have a show called "Bridezilla's" and etc. Nothing is ever good enough. I am a perfectionist - if it passes my approval test, I am not fearful of serving it to someone else. If we set out to try and make everyone happy all the time, we'll be giving away free cake all the time, losing money and won't have much of a business at all. Now, if my cake comes out dry in the cake scraps, I make another. If my cake collapses, I make another. God forbid it collapses on site - they get a full refund. But just 'Oh I don't like your cake', HOW can we be expected to be liked by EVERYONE? Some people swear by Rachel Ray's food, some people DESPISE it! She still has a brand and she still does well - as large of a scale she is comparatively - it's the point I'm making.

You just can't please every human on the planet no matter what.

cabecakes Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 5:23pm
post #22 of 39

If you have been making cakes for 6 years and this is the first complaint you have ever gotten, I would not assume your recipe is faulty. You cannot please everyone, and I wouldn't change my recipe because one person doesn't care for it. I wouldn't be rude to your customer, because she doesn't particularly like your cake either. Send her an email thanking her for her feedback, but exlain that you have NEVER recieved any complaints about your cakes before. Suggest that she just may not be accustomed to the texture of your cakes, and offer your regrets that she was displeased. Ask if there is anything you can do to remedy the situation. It isn't likely she will ask for a refund, or she would have done that in the first place. She may be satisfied with the fact that you acknowledge her discontent.

cakestyles Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 8:47pm
post #23 of 39

I certainly wouldn't change your recipe because 1 lady complained about it...I agree you can't please everyone.

Taste is subjective and if the cake were inedible than that's a different story, some sort of refund would be in order.


I'd be willing to bet that we taste the scraps of every cake that leaves our door...if there were a problem with the taste or texture we'd know it immediately and we'd bake another cake.

I doubt anybody would continue on with the decorating process if after they tasted the cake scraps it were dry, salty, greasy etc.

We're professionals.

Therefore I don't see the need to EVER refund money because somebody called and said they "didn't like the cake, it was dry" because we know damn well it wasn't.

Now if the cake fell over because we didn't support it correctly, or if they couldn't eat the cake for some reason....that's different.

scp1127 Posted 17 Aug 2011 , 11:28pm
post #24 of 39

In this market, we no longer have to fork out the big bucks for newspaper, radio, and tv. In its place is a website and the web social network. Pleasing a customer is important. If you don't take cake of an unhappy customer, you stand to lose much more than the price of a cake. But that makes room for other bakers in a saturated market. With most people not even spending money for a pro to do the site, the best PR you can "not" buy is a satisfied customer who thinks you have great customer service... and vice versa.

I make sure my cakes are accurately described. I know my cakes are good, but it is my job to describe a cake perfectly so that the client can make a great choice. If the client doesn't like my cake, the fault is with me.

Im marketing, it is a well-known fact that most people who dislike your product will not tell you. But of the ones who do tell you, you have the greatest opportunity right the situation and turn that customer into a voice for your business.

No need to answer... but how many of your customers never order again? It is presumptious to assume that one complaint equals only one dissatisfied customer.

Not trying to argue. What I have posted can be applied to any industry or business. I hope all of my competitors ignore cake complaints or reply back that the customer is wrong.

TexasCakes77 Posted 18 Aug 2011 , 12:12am
post #25 of 39

Most of my customers are repeat customers! I have gotten thank you cards for my cakes artwork and quality. I have gotten many compliments for the taste of my cakes.

I really do not understand some of you bakers who are so quick to assume if we have a customer complain, then we must have a bad product! You know, sometimes we need to vent on here or just get some support from those who do the same thing we do. Call me crazy but I had no idea this would turn into me having to defend myself and my work.

You know, I have a sister who specifically complains to get free food wherever she goes. Knowing this, forgive me for being skeptical about a complaint when I tried my own product and it wasn't what she said it was. If something had gone terribly worng, OF COURSE I would be doing something to redeem myself. If someone says your cake is green and you know it was blue, do you just crumble and say, 'I'm sorry, you're right it was green, do you want a full refund or a free cake next time?"....!?

Wow.

scp1127 Posted 18 Aug 2011 , 12:26am
post #26 of 39

Texas, I'm not attacking your baking skills, I am stating a well know and verified fact that dissatisfied customers now have a bigger voice. And right or wrong, this person has power. If you ignore it, or worse, ignite it by telling her she was wrong, your business will be negatively impacted. I'm not telling you what to do. I am telling all of the other readers of this thread that you can turn a negative into a positive. I used to own a marketing company. I do know what I am talking about. Even if she's a scammer, which you do not know, fixing her complaint will make you a story worth telling to her friends.

Again, a dissatisfied customer gives another baker a chance. So new bakers, your cakes are no9t the first cakes a customer has had. They have bought elsewhere. But you now get the opportunity to make this a long term customer. Treat every complaint with care and chalk it up to advertising and PR... tax deductible. Every situation can be turned around and positively impact instead.

cakestyles Posted 18 Aug 2011 , 12:28am
post #27 of 39

As a consumer receiving a full refund on a product that I "didn't like" wouldn't make me automatically order again from that particular vendor.

And as a consumer...I'd still tell everyone I knew not to go to that vendor because of my experience. Even if I received a refund.

Fortunately I've never had to offer any sort of refund...maybe I've been lucky....knock wood.

Because both of my business are so "customer service" oriented, I'm a stickler myself when it comes to being a consumer.

I'm tough...for example, I give restaurants one chance to "wow" me with their food. If I don't like it, no matter what...I don't return.

So I don't necessarily agree that giving this woman a full refund would mean she'd order another cake...I don't necessarily think the OP WANTS her to order another cake. lol

But to each his/her own....what works for me may not work for the next and that's fine. I'm in a very small town with zero other custom cake bakers...even including the storefront bakery in town (they don't even offer fondant cakes)

I like hearing about others policies, it's interesting.

scp1127....in this particular case, would you give this woman a full refund based on her complaint that she thought the cake was dry? Even if you tasted the cake and knew it wasn't? Just curious.

scp1127 Posted 18 Aug 2011 , 12:36am
post #28 of 39

Yes, I would give her a full refund and ask her to pick another flavor. I would then make her a small, complimentary cake or cupcakes so that she will have confidence in my baking, my flavors, and my customer service. Now I have a lady talking about me to all of her friends about this great experience that started badly. This is a story worth telling to friends on fb.

TexasCakes77 Posted 18 Aug 2011 , 12:38am
post #29 of 39

I have not ignored her, I apologized and asked her questions about it, temperature eaten etc, - she didn't respond to me and it's been 3 days. I replied and gave her an ear that was willing to listen, what am I supposed to do if she refuses to respond to me? I am at a complete loss at what else to do besides beg this lady to let me bake a free cake for her - and I just am not interested in doing that. I'm not desperate for customers. It was jarring to have had my first complaint and for the life of me cannot see how she called that cake dry to begin with.

cakestyles Posted 18 Aug 2011 , 12:52am
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

Yes, I would give her a full refund and ask her to pick another flavor. I would then make her a small, complimentary cake or cupcakes so that she will have confidence in my baking, my flavors, and my customer service. Now I have a lady talking about me to all of her friends about this great experience that started badly. This is a story worth telling to friends on fb.




Playing devils advocate here...what if she didn't like the complimentary cake or cupcakes either? Then what? Another free cake offer? How many free cakes is too many?

It's not always cut and dry, wrapped up in a pretty package, "now she'll love me because I bent over backwards for her".

In fact, maybe her friends would be inclined to order from you, complain the cake was dry (even if it wasn't), get a full refund and another free cake.

See how this policy could backfire and you could be taken advantage of?

I think if we're being honest, we all know that there are some people in this world that no matter what you do for them, they'll never be satisfied.

Texascakes...you responded to her complaint, if she doesn't get back to you, I wouldn't give it another thought.

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