Customer Service Help....

Business By sleepy20520 Updated 30 May 2014 , 4:02am by Nadiaa

sleepy20520 Posted 23 Mar 2014 , 7:28pm
post #1 of 31

So this has happened to me 2-3 times so maybe im doing something wrong.  I will have someone call/email me about a cake order.... i will give them a price then i dont hear back for days-weeks.... so i assume they dont want it (they never paid).  So i take other orders and my calendar fills up... my business is mostly only me, occasionally i have part time help but being so my calendar is limited.  

Anyways, i will then hear back from the original person maybe a week or so before their event wanting to pay... 

This actually just happened to me today and she said "well i was out of town and you didnt give me enough time to pay".... i explained to her that we r a small business and we work on a first pay first serve policy because we've had customers in the past never pay and we already turned away other customers. so to stay fair we must do it this way.

she said "i will spread the word that this is bad business...."

I have now decided for EVERY order i take that they dont pay the first time we talk, i will explain to them up front, we are a small business, first come/pay first serve.... period.

as a matter of fact, i may put it as a signature in all my emails.

anyways, any advice here?  if i am doing something wrong.... id love to fix it because i want customers to be happy.

30 replies
howsweet Posted 23 Mar 2014 , 7:41pm
post #2 of 31

AIt sounds like you already know the answer but it doesn't appeal to you to act in a "business-like" way?

maybenot Posted 23 Mar 2014 , 7:44pm
post #3 of 31

AIf someone is so stupid as to think that an inquiry equals an order, then it's just as well that they're NOT a customer!!

A handshake takes TWO hands that actually CLASP: her hand was how much, your hand was $XX, and the shake would have been her saying she wanted to order and you sending her an invoice.

I ask shopkeepers the cost of things all of the time, but there's no sale until the register rings.

If her badmouthing gets back to you, make sure you laugh and comment that she WASN'T a CUSTOMER because she never ORDERED a cake and certainly never PAID for a cake!

Cakechick123 Posted 23 Mar 2014 , 8:27pm
post #4 of 31

you know what to do.. tell everyone that calls, you need a deposit paid within 24/48/whatever hours and stick to it. the same with emails.

 

I only do business via email, when someone phones me I tell them I will mail them a quote, this serve 2 purposes.

 

1. It gives me time to work out a proper price, not just pluck it form the air,

 

2. to me the most important, at the bottom of EACH email I have in bold red letters, no date is booked until the deposit is paid. It also states the 24 hours deadline in my mail, so if they come back a week before the date, I can just say to them all the terms were in the 1st mail so they cant say they didn't know or I didn't tell them!

costumeczar Posted 23 Mar 2014 , 8:38pm
post #5 of 31

AJust make sure to tell people that they need to place the deposit to secure the date, and that it's first deposit, first served.

AZCouture Posted 23 Mar 2014 , 10:18pm
post #6 of 31

You're probably attracting cheapies too. I heard similar stories from people that were extremely cheap that sound just like that. People inquiring about valuable services don't act like that. They know what to do. So....what makes you attractive to people like "that?"

AZCouture Posted 23 Mar 2014 , 10:22pm
post #7 of 31

Quote:

Originally Posted by maybenot 

If someone is so stupid as to think that an inquiry equals an order, then it's just as well that they're NOT a customer!!
 
Oh they do though! The latest burnout here (up and quit one day because of all the stress) told some of us she received at least one comment or nasty phone call a day from her "people". YOU said you were making it, YOU told me the price and I said ok (nevermind that ZERO details were discussed nor a date). YOU said it would be this much but now it's this much, WHY???? (Because you added fifty servings to the cake. In a nutshell, this was the QUEEN of the yard sale Facebook group that was notorious for super cheap cakes, and she didn't understand why people acted like crap, or pushed her around, or were so demanding and ungrateful. The rest of us understood. To this day, when I get a call from one of her old customers, I nearly have to hang up. The brash rude demanding attitudes from them is awful. Go away! I don't do cheap, if that's your only concern, just go! Ugh!
howsweet Posted 24 Mar 2014 , 2:02am
post #8 of 31

By definition, most people who want something for nothing and don't mind taking advantage of people who don't know how to value their hard work are kind of going to be jerks, right? 

 

I never knew about "the cheap cake lady" until I first started selling cakes.  I was obviously green, just had a few cakes on my website and appearing vulnerable, the people looking for cheap cakes were after me. That's when I discovered that the cheap cake lady is a dirty little secret handed down from mother to daughter. Oops, did I say dirty secret?  I meant handy tip.  I literally had a person say she was recently married and her mother had advised her to find a [cheap] cake lady.  I was also getting a surprising number of calls where they'd lost their "cake lady". That's how the call would start - 'we're looking for a new cake lady...'  I guess the old one died of exhaustion or was in a straight jacket somewhere ;) 

 

My point is many of these folks know full well that they are taking advantage of someone. Some are smarter and will be really nice and appreciative, with words. Acting nice doesn't make them less of a jerk when they know what they're doing.

embersmom Posted 24 Mar 2014 , 1:00pm
post #9 of 31

Quote:

Originally Posted by howsweet 
My point is many of these folks know full well that they are taking advantage of someone. Some are smarter and will be really nice and appreciative, with words. Acting nice doesn't make them less of a jerk when they know what they're doing.

 

It took me a very long time to grow a thick skin in this business because, in part, I wanted to give everybody the benefit of the doubt.  Not anymore.  It's almost to the point that I don't trust ANY customer at the outset, and I don't care how challenging/creative the proposed cake might be.  I don't like feeling that way because I'm naturally not that way, but this is a business and if you want to remain a viable business you've GOT to grow that thick skin.

natt12321 Posted 24 Mar 2014 , 2:23pm
post #10 of 31

Quote:

Originally Posted by embersmom 
 

 

It took me a very long time to grow a thick skin in this business because, in part, I wanted to give everybody the benefit of the doubt.  Not anymore.  It's almost to the point that I don't trust ANY customer at the outset, and I don't care how challenging/creative the proposed cake might be.  I don't like feeling that way because I'm naturally not that way, but this is a business and if you want to remain a viable business you've GOT to grow that thick skin.

 

 

I am exactly the same! I have to relax into orders because from the outset I am a sceptic now, I am not in the rest of my life, but in business I am.

ugcjill Posted 24 Mar 2014 , 5:15pm
post #11 of 31

Being the kind of person who successfully handles these things is something you can practice and improve at. If you are not that kind of person inside, you can still do it. It will take more energy than a person who has it naturally, so you need a plan for how to recharge yourself at the end of the day. If you don't recharge, you will burn yourself out quickly.

FrostedMoon Posted 24 Mar 2014 , 5:44pm
post #12 of 31

The key really is giving people a deadline.  I too always do business with email.  If I've taken an order via phone I write up a summary of what was said and email to the customer so they can confirm the details.  For design inquiries that don't have any follow-thru on the part of the customer, I usually send a quick email checking in and letting them know if I don't hear from them/receive a deposit by a particular date I'll assume they will not be ordering for the date in question and will take alternative orders for that date.  

sleepy20520 Posted 24 Mar 2014 , 6:16pm
post #13 of 31

howsweet - where do u get the idea that i dont want to be "business like"?  i am here asking for input to fix a problem.... 

 

everyone else, i appreciate your advice.  i normally do business via email or phone calls.  I have some set things people order that are on our website - cake pops, etc.  usually when i get phone calls people will pay right then.  if they are bigger orders than those or inquiries for weddings, etc i email them the details like others said they do.  so i can get the right price down etc.  i dont think im undercharging and in fact ive taken the great care to make sure i get paid for my art - which i didnt when i first started years ago.

i just think some people assume if they call/email and you are in discussion with them about an order and its details they hold some sort of place on your calendar... like "oh well we were discussing it thats not fair i lost the spot!"

 

ive def had my fair share of cheapos which i have no problem turning away because i cant/wont work for free.

this lady was def on the cheap end....first she wanted a discount because her family member had ordered 3D cakes from me, then even after the dicsount thought it was too high for her.  but apparently after all that still wanted the order but again, never paid.  i had sent her an invoice to pay and didnt hear back for a day.... when i emailed her again the next day to let her know the spot had been filled, i even offered to do a less complex version so she still had somethign for her son's party.  she then called me back right away saying it wasnt fair because she was out of town and on the coast so she didnt have enough time to pay it...and that was bad business.

again, i want to have happy customers and i know you cant please everyone but i want others honest opinions on the matter.

did i do something wrong or not?  

i will def take others advice and put in my email about no order being placed until a deposit is made. period.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 24 Mar 2014 , 6:58pm
post #14 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ugcjill 
 

Being the kind of person who successfully handles these things is something you can practice and improve at. If you are not that kind of person inside, you can still do it. It will take more energy than a person who has it naturally, so you need a plan for how to recharge yourself at the end of the day. If you don't recharge, you will burn yourself out quickly.

 

Oh my gosh, this is so true, That was so me when I started, I hated saying no to people, and it definitely did not come naturally to me to be firm in my prices and policies! But you do learn to do it eventually. Totally true about needing to recharge too! I'm an introvert and I have to recharge anyway when I am around people too much!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrostedMoon 
 

The key really is giving people a deadline.  I too always do business with email.  If I've taken an order via phone I write up a summary of what was said and email to the customer so they can confirm the details.  For design inquiries that don't have any follow-thru on the part of the customer, I usually send a quick email checking in and letting them know if I don't hear from them/receive a deposit by a particular date I'll assume they will not be ordering for the date in question and will take alternative orders for that date.

This, absolutely. I'm still not where I should be on this, I am waaay too lenient on the deadline for payment. But for sure tell them they are not booked until you receive payment, and that they have until a certain date before you have to open up the date to someone else.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by sleepy20520 

  i had sent her an invoice to pay and didnt hear back for a day.... when i emailed her again the next day to let her know the spot had been filled, i even offered to do a less complex version so she still had somethign for her son's party.  she then called me back right away saying it wasnt fair because she was out of town and on the coast so she didnt have enough time to pay it...and that was bad business.

again, i want to have happy customers and i know you cant please everyone but i want others honest opinions on the matter.

did i do something wrong or not?

No, you did not do anything wrong. You stood by your policies, which is exactly what you should have done. The only thing you could have done more is to email her before you filled the spot to let her know the date was in danger of booking (or maybe you did?), One day is a pretty short time frame...I could see how she might not expect you to fill her spot so quickly.

I have people email asking for quotes all the time, I send them a quote, and I never hear another word. I'm not going to email everyone of them again asking if they would like to book. Sometimes I do that, but I definitely don't do it for every inquiry I get. If they want the cake, they email back and what's the first thing they ask? "How can I make payment?"

sleepy20520 Posted 24 Mar 2014 , 7:13pm
post #15 of 31

lovemesomecake- you are right. i could have emailed her telling her the spot was in danger, which i have done for some in the past, but its like you said, im not going to email everyone who inquired about that weekend....its too much work...

im just going to let people know in the future, no spot is reserved without a payment.  no matter how much discussion is going on....

what seems odd to me is she didnt pay in the one day time yet, within 5 min of my follow up email she was calling me?

anyways, im just going to stick by my policy and try to make it more known.

sleepy20520 Posted 24 Mar 2014 , 7:14pm
post #16 of 31

its like when i was discussing weddig venue info with the venue, they didnt hold anything for me jsut because we discussed it or even affter they sent me a contract. payment = booked.

costumeczar Posted 24 Mar 2014 , 8:49pm
post #17 of 31

Quote:

Originally Posted by sleepy20520 
 

lovemesomecake- you are right. i could have emailed her telling her the spot was in danger, which i have done for some in the past, but its like you said, im not going to email everyone who inquired about that weekend....its too much work...

im just going to let people know in the future, no spot is reserved without a payment.  no matter how much discussion is going on....

what seems odd to me is she didnt pay in the one day time yet, within 5 min of my follow up email she was calling me?

anyways, im just going to stick by my policy and try to make it more known.

I tell people that I don't keep track of who's been in for which dates because it's too complicated, and that if they don't have a deposit down, their date might be taken. There have been way too many people who call and say they DEFINITELY want to hire me, then they never send a contract back. I think they tell three or four people the same thing to hedge their bets, so I make no exceptions to the first deposit books the date policy.

howsweet Posted 24 Mar 2014 , 9:16pm
post #18 of 31

A

Original message sent by sleepy20520

howsweet - where do u get the idea that i dont want to be "business like"?  i am here asking for input to fix a problem.... 

I was just confused about what you were asking. You stated the problem and the solution all in the original post. Some people aren't comfortable being business-like or fact-of-the-matter-ish or direct or whatever you want to call it, so I thought maybe you wanted to address that. If you read much on this forum you'll see it's a very common issue.

denetteb Posted 25 Mar 2014 , 4:38am
post #19 of 31

Just curious...why did you give her a discount just because her family member had ordered cakes from you?

sleepy20520 Posted 27 Mar 2014 , 7:40pm
post #20 of 31

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

I tell people that I don't keep track of who's been in for which dates because it's too complicated, and that if they don't have a deposit down, their date might be taken. There have been way too many people who call and say they DEFINITELY want to hire me, then they never send a contract back. I think they tell three or four people the same thing to hedge their bets, so I make no exceptions to the first deposit books the date policy.

can I ask if youve ever had people get all mad about it.... ive always stood by this policy because i have the same thing happen "OH I DEF WANT U TO DO IT!" then never hear back....

i have too many cakes to make to keep track of every inquiry and call/email them all back lol

sleepy20520 Posted 27 Mar 2014 , 7:45pm
post #21 of 31

Quote:

Originally Posted by denetteb 
 

Just curious...why did you give her a discount just because her family member had ordered cakes from you?

I gave her 10% off.  Trying to be nice and instead I get yelled at for not double checking with her about her wanting to pay lol ugh

AZCouture Posted 27 Mar 2014 , 8:08pm
post #22 of 31

Quote:

Originally Posted by sleepy20520 
 

I gave her 10% off.  Trying to be nice and instead I get yelled at for not double checking with her about her wanting to pay lol ugh

Trying to be nice, because if you charged full charge, that wouldn't be nice? I don't get it.

sleepy20520 Posted 27 Mar 2014 , 8:09pm
post #23 of 31

Thanks everyone for all your input!  I apprecait eit and have made some changes:

 

Well,  changed our website to state this:

ATTENTION CUSTOMERS:

PLEASE READ: An inquiry into a particular cake and/or delivery date via phone, email, or in person does not constitute a guaranteed spot on our calendar.  The ONLY way to guarantee a spot is to pay a deposit/payment.  We cannot hold a date without a deposit in hand.  Even if you have met with us, signed a contract, called or emailed to discuss details - the date is still available until we have the deposit in hand.  

 
 
 
I this on my email signature:

NOTE: no order is considered booked until a deposit has been

received. Please reference our policy here

 

Im sure i will stil have people get mad and not read it but what else can i do.

costumeczar Posted 27 Mar 2014 , 9:02pm
post #24 of 31

Quote:

Originally Posted by sleepy20520 
 

Thanks everyone for all your input!  I apprecait eit and have made some changes:

 

Well,  changed our website to state this:

ATTENTION CUSTOMERS:

PLEASE READ: An inquiry into a particular cake and/or delivery date via phone, email, or in person does not constitute a guaranteed spot on our calendar.  The ONLY way to guarantee a spot is to pay a deposit/payment.  We cannot hold a date without a deposit in hand.  Even if you have met with us, signed a contract, called or emailed to discuss details - the date is still available until we have the deposit in hand.  

 
 
 
I this on my email signature:

NOTE: no order is considered booked until a deposit has been

received. Please reference our policy here

 

Im sure i will stil have people get mad and not read it but what else can i do.

You shouldn't accept a contract without a deposit...Or just make sure that you don't give them a copy with yoursignature until you have the deposit.

 

Sleepy20520...I have had people get mad when their date is gone, but oh well. You snooze you lose. I tell everyone that I have to have a deposit to book the date, and that without the deposit it's still up for grabs. If they choose to think that doesn't apply to them that's their problem. I've had people email me three months after an appoitnmetn and ask if I still ahve them pencilled in...No. Never did.

AZCouture Posted 27 Mar 2014 , 10:18pm
post #25 of 31

AI love that "penciled in" term. I get calls every once in awhile, where they're really noncommittal, and ask at the end of the call if I can pencil them like their previous decorator did, in in case they want it. Um, nope!

howsweet Posted 27 Mar 2014 , 10:45pm
post #26 of 31

Quote:

Originally Posted by sleepy20520 
 

Thanks everyone for all your input!  I apprecait eit and have made some changes:

 

Well,  changed our website to state this:

ATTENTION CUSTOMERS:

PLEASE READ: An inquiry into a particular cake and/or delivery date via phone, email, or in person does not constitute a guaranteed spot on our calendar.  The ONLY way to guarantee a spot is to pay a deposit/payment.  We cannot hold a date without a deposit in hand.  Even if you have met with us, signed a contract, called or emailed to discuss details - the date is still available until we have the deposit in hand.  

 
 
 
I this on my email signature:

NOTE: no order is considered booked until a deposit has been

received. Please reference our policy here

 

Im sure i will stil have people get mad and not read it but what else can i do.


I can see why you bristled at my suggestion you were uncomfortable being businessy! You're right, some people won't read it. Even if you send it in the body of an email. Even if you have them initial it, but you can point back to it if someone gets upset. I had that happen and showed the lady it was in the body of an email I had sent her. She realized she should have read it - I still felt bad for her. There's only so much you can do.

denetteb Posted 27 Mar 2014 , 11:47pm
post #27 of 31

You may want to re-look at your discount policy if you want to make a successful business.  If you do give a discount, and I don't think just because a family member has ordered from you would warrant one, then make it clear on the contract.  For example..10% for immediate family, or for referring 3 new customers, etc.  Otherwise next time they will wonder why you are more expensive, or their friend will wonder why they are charged more.  Also that way the client knows you are being "nice."

epiquerianmb Posted 30 May 2014 , 3:47am
post #28 of 31

AGood point....how do you get away from cheapos?

AZCouture Posted 30 May 2014 , 3:54am
post #29 of 31

A

Original message sent by epiquerianmb

Good point....how do you get away from cheapos?

Don't cater to them, market to them, or attract them in the first place.

denetteb Posted 30 May 2014 , 4:00am
post #30 of 31

Don't drop your price down to meet theirs.  Certainly you can modify sizes and other details to adjust the price, but don't just decrease the price because they ask for it.  Don't randomly give discounts.  Don't advertise on facebook rummage sale type pages.  Make sure your web page and facebook page are very professional with no typos.  Have very good quality photos of good quality products displayed in a nice presentation.  Be confident in your pricing and business plan.  Be willing to say no to orders for people that can not pay your prices.

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