esq1031 Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 3:03am

HI everyone,
I am perplexed about this situation. I did a cake about a month and a half ago for someone my sister referred to me. It was a Hello Kitty cake for an 18th bday. Just plain vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream. I always use a SMBC under my fondant cakes and have gotten only compliments on it until now.

This same customer emailed me asking me to do another cake for her in two weeks, hoping I would have the date available. in the next sentence she said that she feels terrible saying this, but that the Hello Kitty cake, although magnificent, was somewhat inedible. She said it was specifically because of the buttercream and said she thought I may have forgotten the sugar or some other ingredient. And because the Hello Kitty cake was one of the most beautiful cakes she has ever seen, she is willing to try it again and order another cake from me. Anyone who makes SMBC knows you can't "forget the sugar".

Well, I am shocked. Number one because I tasted the buttercream and the cake and it was delicious. Number two, because this same person praised me all over my facebook page saying how she is going to recommend me to everyone and how I made the most perfect cake for her daughter. Now this.

How do you handle something like this a month and a half later? I really don't feel comfortable doing the cake for her, but this is someone that I wanted to impress because of the potential of the business I could get from people she knows. What do you all think is going on here?

15 replies
BlakesCakes Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 3:17am

I'd guess that she's unfamiliar with SMBC and is more accustomed to AMBC--much more "sugary" and sweet.

My family really dislikes SMBC. If I use it straight up --no PS added--they ask me why I "buttered the cake". My AMBC has whipping cream in it and a bit of lemon juice, so it's not nearly as sweet as some recipes, but they really prefer it.

It's up to you as to how you want to go about trying to keep the customer (happy). You can explain the difference(s) between the 2 types of icings, you can add some sweetness to your basic recipe by putting in some PS, you can find an AMBC recipe that you like and offer that as an option (I know several bakers who allow the customer to choose and it works well for them), or you can tell her nicely that you're just not her baker.

Rae

esq1031 Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 3:42am

Thanks Rae,
I think you made some great suggestions. I will explain the differences to the client and see if she is still interested. If so, I will give it one more go with her. Thanks for your help.

BlakesCakes Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 3:51am

Hope it works out for you. Let us know how she responds.

Rae

scp1127 Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 7:42am

esq1031, I have a suggestion. Before you try to accomodate her, will this fit into your business model? If you are known for using European buttercreams, will an alternative buttercream cause a branding issue? Remember, guests will be eating that cake too. I'm not saying one is better, I'm just pointing out that changing recipes will no just reach one person.

I would suggest another flavor of SMBC. My guess is that the first cake was vanilla. Maybe suggest chocolate, raspberry, lemon... something with deeper flavor.

I recently found a buttercream that is sweeter and does not go against my branding. I market that as a separate option from my European butercreams. Whatever you decide, make sure it is a buttercream that you would serve in your business, not just one to appease one customer.

My recipe is a pain. Maybe Blakes would share with you in a pm. I will also, but my sweet buttercream recipe is time-consuming.

3beautygirls Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 3:15pm

I am not a professional, but I agree with other ladies, maybe just give her an option of a different recipe and explain the difference between the two.

From my point of view it seems as though she thinks your work is wonderful but just didn't like the recipe... each to their own... and you got a second cake request from her, so that's good too!

Good luck icon_smile.gif

Paperfishies Posted 21 Jun 2012 , 5:27pm

A lot of younger people have no idea what SMBC/IMBC is, they are used to the american buttercreams.
I would explain to her that you used a SMBC and it is known for being less sweet than the regular american buttercream...and on the next cake, load that sucker down with american buttercream, lol.

cai0311 Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 2:39am

I hate SMBC. I would think you forgot the sugar too if I was her. If that is all you offer, tell her that. If you offer her something different you will have to ask each client which icing they want because you never know whose party they were at when they tried your cake.

jgifford Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 3:44am

Am I the only one who thinks it's strange that your customer waited 6 weeks to voice her criticism, and only when she was ordering another cake? Maybe hoping you would offer her a discount on this one? Hmmmmm. . .

scp1127 Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 8:08am

She didn't ask for a discount. Recently I re-ordered from a print artist for a wedding buffet. She was good, but did a few things that made her products harder to work with compared to others. I emailed her, asking about my concerns, but let her know I was questioning some issues because I wanted a future working relationship. She made some adjustments and we are both happy.

Tails Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 9:02am
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgifford

Am I the only one who thinks it's strange that your customer waited 6 weeks to voice her criticism, and only when she was ordering another cake? Maybe hoping you would offer her a discount on this one? Hmmmmm. . .




Not necessarily. Could be she meant to phone/email and never got around to it, and when she was wanting to order another cake, she a) was making the call anyway and b) didnt want to have the same issue as last time with it not being sweet enough.

esq1031 Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 12:27pm

I too was initially skeptical when she didn't complain until so long after the fact and after she was ordering another cake. Also because she contacted me the same night of the delivery/party to say how awesome the cake was and how she was recommending me to everyone. Because she is someone that my sister knows, my sister assured me that that was not the case. I still think it's odd, but I guess I will never really know.

So I decided to take on the new cake and I am sending over to her some cupcakes with the new buttercream that I will be putting on the cake so there is no confusion in what she will b e getting. If she doesn't like that, then I guess I don't take the order.

I do really appreciate all of your comments.You have all helped put things into perspective for me because I was shocked and really upset about the complaint. But I realize it was nothing I did wrong, just that I have to understand that I can't please everyone. None of us can, I guess, no matter how hard we try.

BakingIrene Posted 22 Jun 2012 , 1:34pm

Here's a possibility: that the customer did like the cake, but she is trying to lay a guilt trip so she can weasel a cheaper price for the second cake. Because there is absolutely no other reason for making her comments so far after everybody gobbled down the first cake...

Doing the tasting is a good idea. Put the terms of all your new orders in writing so that you have something concrete to refer to in case of "complaints".

FYI my first taste of IBMC was not so pleasant because the cook used salted butter and salt according to the recipe published in the US. Sorry but I have found that unsalted butter and no added salt means that the buttercream tastes balanced when it's tasted WITH the cake. But I don't eat any processed food because it's grossly oversalted.

vtcake Posted 28 Jun 2012 , 3:59pm

And because she wanted a Hello Kitty cake, which is copyrighted, she's lucky you even did it.

Pearl123 Posted 3 Jul 2012 , 9:51am

I don't think the customer was being mean or trying to get a discount etc. Esp if she's ordering more, I think it just meant she liked the cake but not the icing. SMBC is not great tasting to me either and as you said you can't please everyone. I agree that she may have just mentioned it as she didn't want the same thing for another cake. If she's been recommending you etc thats great business for you. I feel like customers should tell you what they liked and didn't like so that we can constantly be improving ourselves.

Your cakes look amazing and if the only thing she complained about was the icing,... water off your back honey.....

LNW Posted 17 Jul 2012 , 2:45pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3beautygirls

I am not a professional, but I agree with other ladies, maybe just give her an option of a different recipe and explain the difference between the two.

From my point of view it seems as though she thinks your work is wonderful but just didn't like the recipe... each to their own... and you got a second cake request from her, so that's good too!

Good luck icon_smile.gif




ITA. She sounds totally reasonable to me. Im not a fan of SMBC; I dont like icing period honestly. But if I were going to eat cake (which I dont like either lol) I would want something similar to American style buttercream. Its what Im used to.
I think its awesome she came back to you for another cake. That speaks volumes about your decorating abilities! She didnt like the taste of the cake, called it inedible, but its was so freaking beautiful she just had to order another from you. You rock!

I hope she likes the cupcakes and you can keep her as a customer. She sounds like a gem, just the kind of customer you want around running their mouth about how awesome your work is
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