Thursday, April 21, 2011

It Takes a Big Person to Handle a Tough Customer

I was watching Cake Boss with my wife and kids last night (great show on TLC) and Buddy, the Cake Boss, had a really tough customer. How he handled it was a teachable moment for anyone in customer service.

Background: Mother & daughter came in to order a wedding cake. Daughter was totally not into the idea of a big fancy wedding. She never really gave much feedback but said okay to the design he offered.

The day before the wedding she came in to look at the tastefully decorated ivory cake as agreed, called it ugly and asked for something different. While Buddy went to talk to his team she grabbed tubes of colored icing and began squirting them all over the cake, basically ruining it.

Buddy came back and was shocked. He booted her out of the bakery.

The Dilemma: What should he do next? He basically had three options:

  1. Bake her a new cake. His business was swamped and it would mean overtime for his staff, plus the extra cost of the new cake and decorations, but they could do it.

  2. Give her the cake as is and say, "You did it, you get to live with your actions."

  3. Tell her that he wasn't going to make a cake for her at all.

What would you do?

The Decision: Buddy called the mom, a good customer of his, and told her he couldn't do the cake. She began to cry. Buddy then changed his mind and promised he would take care of her. As he hung up he said to his team, "I'm gonna show her that I can be the bigger man in this and make her a cake she's gonna love."

The result was a phenomenal cake that made the mom and bridesmaids cry. (Bridezilla refused to even get up from her chair to look at the cake. I give that marriage about 3 months at best.)

The lesson, however, was telling. At the end of the day Buddy decided that doing the right thing (making a new cake to the customer's satisfaction) was more important than doing the easy thing (not making a cake), or the deserved thing (giving her the cake she "decorated").

You could justify any of those three actions, but only one of them will get you repeat and referral business. Whether the bride was happy or not, the mom and the bridesmaids will always remember what Buddy did and will tell others about it, too.

That is how you get
Word of Mouth from over-the-top customer service.

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