6 Easy Steps to Deal with Difficult Home Bakery Clients
Difficult or Unsatisfied clients are an absolute guarantee in your Home Bakery Business journey – sorry to burst that sugar bubble for you!
No matter how thorough, talented or organized you are, you or your baking will upset a client at some point.
It’s so important for every Home Bakery Owner to have a plan of action and “script” to follow when a client is being difficult or they are dissatisfied. Let’s get to it!
Distinguish between “Difficult” or “Dissatisfied”
Although both of these types of clients are inherently upset, it’s essential that you place them in 2 separate categories – emotionally and mentally.
Difficult clients are, in a nutshell, people who often try to take advantage of you and manipulate you into doing MORE for LESS money.
Dissatisfied clients are people you baked for, but for some reason they did not have a positive experience. This usually pertains to the quality of your baked goods, the quality of your services (delivery, prompt email responses, etc.) or the quality of your engagement (following up and caring).
Let’s discuss “Dissatisfied Clients” first because they are much simpler to deal with and make happy again 🙂
“Dissatisfied Client” Step #1: Preparation
First of all, you should ALWAYS follow up with a client 2-3 days after they got baked goods from your Home Bakery!
I know it can be super daunting to follow up with a client, because what if they didn’t enjoy their cake?? 😨
Honestly, I still get these doubts every single time I need to follow up with a client. But, then I need to remind myself that this phase is too important to skip for several reasons.
Here’s WHY you Should Follow Up with Every Client:
- It’s good policy. Caring about whether someone enjoyed your baking (which they paid good money for) is the good and decent thing to do. Following up tells a client a lot about what type of business owner and person you are. Home Bakers care.
- If something tastes bad or went wrong, you NEED TO KNOW so that it doesn’t happen again! Getting feedback gives you the opportunity to make changes in your Home Bakery Business moving forward. It also increases your chances of a high customer satisfaction rate.
- It provides another opportunity for interaction and relationship building. After the follow up there will be no real opportunity to connect with them again unless they order again. So the follow up provides the last window to leave a good impression with your client.
If a client happens to be dissatisfied, they will already like you more for caring enough to follow up with them.
This means they’ll be less emotional about it because they won’t be thinking: “The cake was awful and she didn’t even care to follow up! What a shocker!”
Following up sets you up for the win – even if it turns out the client is dissatisfied.
“Dissatisfied Client” Step #2: Listen & Empathize
If you follow up and it turns out that the client did not enjoy their baked goods, the most important first step is to LISTEN to them.
DO NOT go on defense mode here!! This is about THEM, not about you. Listen to them with TOTAL EMPATHY. Imagine how you would feel if you saved up to buy a cake for your birthday only to be disappointed by it and feeling embarrassed to serve it to your friends & family.
Empathize with them verbally saying things like:
“I am so sorry to hear that you’ve had such a bad experience. This should not have happened. I sincerely apologize.”
Acknowledging their feelings is the best way to distinguish any anger they might have (I learned this at a marriage conference actually! Lol!). This is an important step because you will need to dig a bit deeper into the problem and it helps if the client feels HEARD & UNDERSTOOD.
“Dissatisfied Client” Step #3: Find a Solution
Now it’s time to dig a bit deeper and find out from the client EXACTLY WHY they didn’t enjoy your baked goods.
Ask questions about the flavour, the texture, the freshness, how they stored the baked goods. Be a detective and find out from them what the problems were in as much detail as possible.
Explain to them what you think happened and why it happened. THANK them for their honesty and that you appreciate their willingness to talk to you about their experience.
For this next phase you will need to be as objective as possible.
1. Analyse everything the client has told you – objectively.
Grade their feedback on a scale from 1-10. 1 being a “petty complaint” with no real consequences and 10 being severe, legitimate complaints to the point of a bake not being edible (burnt, too much salt, had a hair in it).
Create 3 levels of reimbursement.
* Level 1: Any complaint ranking from 1-2. This level is for complaints like “the cake was a tad dryer than last time I ordered from you, but it was still delicious.”
In such cases you can just apologize that the cake did not entirely live up to their expectations. You’ll take extra care to ensure moist cakes next time by doing X,Y and Z.
* Level 2: Any complaints ranking from 3-6. This level is for complaints like “the cake was not as delicious as I usually get from you. We ate it and it was okay, but everyone agreed that we expect more from you.” In such cases I recommend a 20% discount on their next purchase.
* Level 3: Any complaints raking from 7-10. This level is for severe complaints like burned cake, a hair in the cake – anything that makes a cake inedible. In such cases I recommend giving the client a FREE cake. Yes, a totally 100% free cake. Remember that people talk. If you make such a grand gesture as this when your Home Bakery client is dissatisfied, they probably won’t ever say anything bad about your business.
Super Important: Do not give them a financial refund. You want to create another opportunity to change their mind about you and your baking business! Rather give them a free cake.
“Difficult Client” Step #1: Identification
First you will need to accurately identify a “Difficult Client”. It’s someone who:
* Keeps asking for price reductions
* Always sends you super elaborate images from Pinterest to recreate – for next to nothing
* Cancels their order last minute
* Manipulates you into adding extra things for free
* Manipulates you into baking things that you don’t want to bake
* Does not respect your time or privacy and spams you with 5 texts at 9 pm
* Delays their payment past the payment deadline
* Gets you to make exceptions for them “just this once” – regarding delivery, lead time, prices, designs, etc.
Okay my friend, now listen up. This is the most important thing I can teach you about “difficult clients”…
They exist in EVERY SINGLE INDUSTRY. You can’t control them and their audacity. BUT, you can (and SHOULD) position your Home Bakery to REPEL them.
“Difficult Client” Step #2: Repellent
Yes, REPELLING those difficult clients is the best way to deal with them, because then you DON’T have to deal with them! Does that make sense?
So, HOW do you repel difficult clients?
1. Remember that Cheap Prices Attract Cheap Clients
If you’ve been charging too little for your baked goods, you’ve probably run into some pretty darn demanding, unrealistic, bartering sort of clients. Am I right?
Chances are that’s what drove you to start looking for solutions to dealing with your “difficult clients”! The type of clients you currently have are just becoming unbearable and you’re constantly second guessing yourself as a baker and business owner.
So here’s the deal. Cheap prices will attract clients that have a “cheap” type of character. These are the type of clients who take advantage of you. They’ll get you baking things you hate, on short notice for less money.
The way you get ideal, committed clients with better character (and repel the difficult clients) is by CHARGING MORE. This separates the cheapskates from the true cake appreciators.
YES, my friend, your dream clients are out there and there are MANY of them. But YOU need to make the decision to start pricing your bakes according to their VALUE and not according to what your difficult clients want.
2. Clearly State on your Website What you DON’T Do
Here’s an example of this section on my website:
Being upfront about what you do and don’t do will easily veer off all the clients you’d prefer not to bake for. People appreciate honesty and at the end of the day you’re also saving them, and yourself, time.
“Difficult Client” Step #3: Listen & Refer
You might not like these difficult clients, but fact is that they still need a cake for a very special event in their lives. Don’t disregard that.
Whenever a difficult type of client emails me about baking them an elaborate fondant cake and speak to me like they “own me”, I just politely refer them to a bakery that can help them.
Whether the client is difficult or not, you should still at least point them in a direction that can meet their needs. Provide them with a link to the Bakery that can help them and ALWAYS speak kindly – especially when they were rude in their first email.
ALWAYS believe the best about Clients and don’t assume the worst.
We all have very dynamic lives full of challenges. Sometimes a client will just be having a difficult day and feel frustrated. This might influence their writing style when they email you with an inquiry and they’ll appear blunt and rude.
No matter how any potential client speaks to you (via phone or email), NEVER say anything bad about ANY CLIENTS beyond your most trusted friend or spouse.
Difficult clients are NOT a conversation topic for you to bring up at a party or even at a family event. People talk, news travels fast and speaking poorly of anyone will always reflect badly on your character – no matter how wrong they were and how right you are.
Apply this 1 rule to ALL current & potential clients:
See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.
That’s it my friend! The 6 Easy Steps to Deal with Dissatisfied and/or Difficult Home Bakery Clients 🙂