Cake Decorating Community - Cakes We Bake

Hello My Fellow Cake Friends,

Today I made a cake for a customer who asked for a floral/fairy themed cake.  Long story short, she thought it was a beautiful cake, but wasn't the theme she envisioned.

As a sign of good faith, I offered a partial refund, offered to fix the cake and add a little something extra to meet her needs, I even offered to deliver it to the venue, at no charge of course.

I could tell her in voice she was on the brink of tears, and it made me feel terrible! Any helpful advice for a novice baker who's hell bent on TOP NOTCH customer service?

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Mia - first off, don't feel bad!  If the only guidance she gave you was "floral / fairy themed" and no more, then she had to know that you weren't a mind reader!  I think everything you offered was fair.  In the future, you may want to send the customer a quick sketch to make sure that what you are thinking and what she is envisioning are on the same page.  You don't have to be a fantastic artist, just a quick rendering of how you think you'd like to make the cake should give her an idea of whether it's what she's looking for, then you can tweak and adjust based on her suggestions.  I also ask people to send me a photo (if they can find one on Google or something) of a cake they have seen that is similar to what they are wanting.  I always tell people I won't directly copy another decorator's design, but I can use it as inspiration to make their cake.  I hope this helps!!

I agree with Eileen, Mia. Unless they bring you a picture with specifics defined from that picture, most everyone uses their creative touch to turn out a cake from their own experiences and skills. That's part of the fun of cake design is being able to have a little creative influence in what is being executed. Keep in mind too that there is always going to be someone that you are not going to be able to please, or even worse, that just wants to take advantage of you in order to get a cut deal or something for free. I had a bride that wanted a red and black cake and even brought a picture of a cake stating that she wanted it exactly like the picture. In advance, I told her I could make it very similar but would not make it exactly like the picture because I too don't like to 'copy' someone elses work. She knew this and still wanted the cake, but upon delivery, she demanded her money back on the cake because it did not look exactly like the picture. I held my ground and told her that was fine, but the cake would be going home with me, then. Well...she backed way down and kept the cake. Later I heard from mutual people that had had dealings with this bride that this was something she had been doing all along with everyone so that she could get a good 'deal'. When you get as old as I am, you experience a lot, and eventually, you just realize that you cannot please everyone. And believe me, I have always gone the extra mile for customer service too, being a home baker.

Mia,

I don't think you need any advice on how to deliver "top notch" customer service.  It looks to me that you are already doing that.  As Linda has already mentioned, you are not going to be able to please everyone.  If this customer was unhappy because it was not the theme she envisioned, then she should have been more specific so that you clearly understood what she was looking for.  Some people seem to think that you can read minds.  I worked for 23 very long years for someone who was like that. Ugh  I'm sorry that this person made you feel badly.  Don't let it get you down.

Sorry Mia you had a bad experience. I went through something similar this past summer. Found out later  (through a relative ) after customer picked up the cake she was disappointed with the "look".  Customer did send a picture, but changed the colour & the medium ( from buttercream covering cake to fondant ).

I also offered to give a partial refund, but customer realized...you can't change the size of the cake, the colour AND what it is covered in and still HAVE THE SAME CAKE that was in the original picture!! So she took part of the blame, and said I did a good job, and wouldn't take any money back.

SOoooo lesson learned. I now am very, very specific when asked to do a cake. Ask customers details, details.

EVEN if they have a picture. I say I WON"T/CAN'T copy the picture exactly. And yes, as all have stated above. You can do your very best, but you can't please everyone.

That customer said she would be back, but who knows???  Was it just lip service?? I haven't lost any sleep over it. If she does, she does. If she doesn't she doesn't. Can't do anything about it.  Did my best, and that's all you can ever do.

I had this same thing happen to me the mother of a daughter who was pregnant came to me ask me to make a cake for a baby shower so we went exactly by the baby's bedding and I spent about 8-10 hours on this three tier cake I did a gum paste baby on top with the hair color of the mother and the blanket the mother first bought it was beautiful if I do say so myself.  the mom came to pick it up and brought a suburban topick it up I thought we were ok and she had three dogs she had picked up at the hairdresser I couldn't belkieve she was getting a cake with three dogs in the car. My  husband boxed it up and she told us of all the errands she still had to run and as my husband carried the cake to the car and she wanted to set it on books in the front seat which was not level on some magazines my husband walked in and said that cake won't make it home.  she left. very happy customer. We went out to dinner I came home and got in bed @1030 that night I get a phone call and her daughter calls and says what are you going to do about my cake and I said what do you mean.  She said she got her cake home and it torn all to pieces and she didn't like the theme nor did she like the colors of the cake that her mom had picked out and her mom was giving the shower.  So she started bad mouthing me and cursing me and I was so taken aback she said now what are you going to do about my cake for my shower tomorrow I didn't know what to do.  I had even gotten a 10.00 tip on this cake they liked it so much when they left my home with it.   However I feel the dogds got a hold of the cake and that is how it got to be a mess and wound up in the flkoor because in 36 years I had never had a cake to fall even after delivery.  I put dowel rods down the center if it is tiered to hold all three or four layers together upright.  She wanted another cake totally different from the first and to keep my name clean I made her a new one.,  big mistake on my part I think because I should have only agreed to make one just like the first one. I didn't charge her for the second cake to save face and comments later but usually when a cake leaves your property then its their responsibility,  So my thoughts on this comment is always get apicture they have in mind make them sign that its their no matter what when they leave your facility and have it signed it will be the best of all around. I do that now,.n  We can't always read others minds

Whoa...Momma

You are one NICE lady Tamara.  Your husband was right, he could see disaster right from the time she picked up the cake. I have only ever had 1 customer pick up a cake as I am just a hobby baker. But if I was having customers pick up on a regular basis.....1. Have customer sign the original agreement/contract which explains all details they asked for...colour, size, etc.   2. Take a picture of finished cake...good reference later   3. Take a picture of cake boxed, ready to go to show it was secure.  4. In the contract there should be a "not responsible" clause....for failures upon delivery.  You have to cover your "A".... I was was on a minor sports board for 7 yrs. and a friend & lawyer who came on with me freaked when he saw the agreement we had parents sign. He ammended the agreement cause if he hadn't, any child getting hurt meant they could sue ALL OF US VOLUNTEERS ON THE BOARD.  Just telling this example to show that once that cake leaves your house, you have absolutely no control, so you need a signed contract excempting you from stupid things customers do.

Just like your customer above. This is a lessoned learned for us Tamara. Thanks so much for sharing. You were extremely giving by re-doing the cake. I don't know if I could have done it after all the bad mouthing. Woulda been a lot a prayin going on!!!!

 

Mia, 

Top Notch customer services does not necessarily mean satisfying each and every customer.  As a business you will soon go broke and/or get burnt out.  Never promise a customer an exact replica of a cake and as in your case here, when you are designing and creating just off a general theme, this becomes very important.  I think you offered way too much and would venture to guess you did not make much money off this cake, if you are doing this for fun or as a hobby that's one thing, but if you are doing this as a business, then you probably should go back to the drawing board, research business practices and hold your ground on them.  There is great advice on the above responses!!!

again i agree unless they give you loads of ideas and plenty of factual info then your interpretation is the only one that counts.

linda

www.bumblebee-cakes.co.uk
 
Sherry Qualls said:

Mia, 

Top Notch customer services does not necessarily mean satisfying each and every customer.  As a business you will soon go broke and/or get burnt out.  Never promise a customer an exact replica of a cake and as in your case here, when you are designing and creating just off a general theme, this becomes very important.  I think you offered way too much and would venture to guess you did not make much money off this cake, if you are doing this for fun or as a hobby that's one thing, but if you are doing this as a business, then you probably should go back to the drawing board, research business practices and hold your ground on them.  There is great advice on the above responses!!!

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