I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

This Won't Hurt A Bit

I have a particularly thin skin, so when people say, "Don't take it personally," I cringe. To me, it's ALL personal, and it's never so true as it is in my business dealings (which ironically is where it should be the LEAST true.)

This week I called a client to chase up a late return on a cake stand - and in exchange got an earful of criticism.

Long story short - we made her a (really lovely) cupcake tower and top cake - which she specifically asked to be made in pastels and not bright colours. I even underlined 'pastel' on the order form twice, because our inherent style is much more skewer towards 'brighter is better.' At first her complaint was that the colours were not bright enough in the dark restaurant, "I said I did not want baby colours!" Then it was that the cake itself, while it tasted lovely and everyone loved it, was "boring." While I was on the phone with her, I took out the order form just to check - nope, we'd had done everything according to her instructions, down to what colours needed to be what shades and what it looked like.

Apparently the day went off without a hitch and "everything was perfect except for the cake", which she was "really disappointed in." We all thought it was lovely enough that we took more than the usual amount of photos of it, and commented quite a bit about how sweet and girly it looked...but she wasn't happy, and my job is to make her happy. So I sympathised and thanked her for her feedback. ALL feedback is useful to me so I was sincere in my appreciation.

She was not happy with my reaction, so decided to up her aggravation to ME. Personally. So all of a sudden I was "extremely rude" to her at the consultation, I walked back into the kitchen right in the middle of our consult, I didn't give her enough time to make her decision, I pressured her into making colour choices, I didn't ask for enough reference material on the colour she wanted, I had something against her because she brought a child with her. She thought if she owned a business, she would want to know if she was being rude to people so felt the need to tell me about it (and so on and so forth.)

Ultimately it doesn't matter that her comments are untrue - and I could spend this blog telling you all how I give my clients WAY MORE time than most cake makers do, that I watched her kid destroy my shop (and gave him a lollipop, and invited him to our kids' play area and so on). Blah blah, she was unhappy, for whatever reasons, most of which I am sure have nothing at all to do with me or her cake and cupcakes.

I could handle her hating her cake. I could not handle her telling me off for giving her good service, because I know in my very heart of hearts that the entire CRUX of my business is the service. My employees have been known to shake their heads and say, "Whoah, you gave that lady WAY more time than I would have, and you are WAY nicer than I would have been," and clients often comment about how I (and my employees) go ABOVE AND BEYOND where we need to in order to secure their happiness. So the comments about the service I gave her - those hurt like hell, because I knew they were undeserved and yet it made me miserable to think I had an unhappy client. I was grumpy about it for an entire day and a half.

It's utter BULLSHIT that I let her take control over that much time in my already full life.

It makes me think about how often we forget the good stuff and dwell on the crap stuff. I have kajillions of happy clients, but it's the ONE who is unhappy which sticks RIGHT in my craw. I've lost a billion kilos (at least) but it's the two I've gained in the last 6 weeks which irritate the shit out of me. My kids are all around awesome, but it's their one moment of losing it in public which makes me feel like a shit parent. I give as much as I can to friends but it's the one time I can't help them immediately which makes me believe I'm a shit friend. You get the idea. What a terrible character flaw us humans have, to dismiss lots and lots of positive achievements and attributes when faced with only a SINGLE painful comment or experience. We are so wrapped up in that single negative moment that all the positive ones before it pale into non-existance.

I've got to see that client again tomorrow, when she comes to return the stand. I'll smile and be polite and will sincerely think to myself, "I really hope that the WORST problem you ever have to face as a parent is that the pink in your christening cupcakes wasn't pink enough for you," and then I'll think, "Stupid bitch!"...and I'll feel better, and go back to making squillions of people happy. Because although the next client who is unhappy will also make comments which will hurt, all of it is lessons learned and a skin which will grow ever thicker, so that eventually, I'll be able to take on criticism and it won't hurt quite so much.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Wow, that woman was rude! Good for you though for keeping your cool and rising above it.