Mixed Messages: Customer Service

22 Nov

The big cake day for the bakery is usually Saturday.  Makes sense given that parties are often planned for weekends.  So, here I was yesterday, hanging out with kids at home, making brunch, when I happened to check my email on my smartphone.  A customer who had picked up a cake on Saturday wrote a glowing “thank you” note – making sure to name the person who had made the cake, because it tasted delicious and looked fabulous – plus he raved about how great our customer service had been.

Then not 2 hours later, I check the email again (should just leave it all unchecked until Monday to have a mental break) and am met with a very angry email.  The subject line was actually titled “Angry”.  Seems someone else who also picked up a cake on Saturday was not happy at all.  She didn’t like the design and said that the cake was “disgusting….” and “ugly” and worse.

The Angry Cake

So my question is, how am I supposed to process these two conflicting pieces of information?  As a business owner, I certainly want everyone we sell to to be satisfied.  Our customers are our bread and butter, literally.  And we will make sure that the unhappy customer receives compensation for her disappointment.

But the irony is that the cake and buttercream that the two emails both mentioned was from the same batch.  The flavor combination’s were different, granted, but the cake itself was mixed and baked by the same person at the same time.  It’s a recipe that we’ve been using for years.  From a chunk of leftover cake (from the same batch), I had put together a cake for the family – coconut buttercream with buttermilk cake & coconut simple syrup.  It tasted perfect…

A Not Angry Cake

So, all I could do was refund the unhappy person and write the happy person a “thank you note”, thanking them for their positive feedback.  I shared the good and bad feedback with the staff, hoping that we will figure out where the discrepancy lies.  Such diverse responses to the same product make me wary about continuing on with the cake end of the business at all….


7 Responses to “Mixed Messages: Customer Service”

  1. Babygirl November 22, 2010 at 8:43 pm #

    Your first decision is usually the correct one.. pretty good article

  2. Elizabeth November 22, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

    I totally feel your pain! We’ll have one customer call to RAVE about an employee, saying he was the best person in the world, ALWAYS send this person, etc. Then a few weeks later a different customer will call and complain to the high heavens about the same employee.

    I think expectations vary wildly. I cannot believe someone wrote an email with the subject line “angry.” I snorted when I read that–it’s a cake, for crying out loud! How can one be angry about a cake?

  3. Mahesh November 22, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    Most customers that write emails with angry feedback or complain, always are curiously hoping that the business owner would call back, or reach out to ask more details. I think if you were to call the angry customer back, and ask for little more better clarification to make a better cake for them next time, I only hope the person might open up and tell you all the things she/he wants in the cake to please her. But then there is always the grumpy ones that is looking for ways to ‘be picky’, and never be able to tell anyone what is it that they are picky about. I hope your angry customer is a good one that might help to get that detail! 🙂 Good Luck!

  4. blackmarketbakery November 22, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    Mahesh – we did reach out to the customer and got all of the feedback. The challenge is squaring that with our own experience with the cake in question. I think we won’t hear from this person again… which is probably a good thing for both of us.

  5. simple me November 23, 2010 at 12:11 am #

    Your product is too good/thoughtful/high quality for this kind of craziness. By now you must know that there are people who will not be pleased and conduct their lives merely to bring others down to their level of discontent.
    Try not to let it bother you and do not take orders from this person again after you refund their money.

  6. Chownoir November 23, 2010 at 12:46 am #

    Ehh, I guess I always took the attitude that there’s some people who are always unhappy. I took complaints a lot more seriously if they were specific and non-ranty. Someone who just goes off complaining about ugly and can’t give details, I’d just chalk it up to one of those things. Also I’d take into consideration the context of the complaint. In this case, they were complaining about the design? Didn’t they see the design when they ordered the cake and picked it up? Wouldn’t you have said something at that point? As for disgusting, how and what was disgusting about it? Sour, what? Some people are just never going to be happy.

    Hi Rachel, it’s J from Barney’s class.

  7. Keba November 23, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    Honestly some people simply want to lash out at something or someone just for the sake of lashing out. The other possibility is that She did not know what was ordered and was confused by what she got. probably the former of the two. Sorry for the angry customer those are never pleasant

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