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Dealing with Customers at a Bakery

Owning a bakery can be a fun-filled and exciting adventure for a baker who loves to create culinary masterpieces on a regular basis. Most bakers start their companies because they have a passion for breads, rolls, pies, pastries, cakes, and other baked goods. Very few bakers start a bakery from the ground up because they have an unquenchable desire to deal with frustrating customers on a regular basis. Unfortunately, dealing with customers is a necessary part of a professional baker's job. Without customers, a bakery wouldn't survive very long.

Because customers are so important to your bakery's success, it is important to treat them like the priority they are. Retail stores often emphasize this motto for their employees: the customer is always right. While you, the baker, may know that the customer is rarely right because you have the baking knowledge and the customer does not, it is important to treat the customer with respect and patience at all times. Here are three different customer "types" that you will likely come across at some point as a baker. Understanding these types will help prepare you to turn frustrating customers into perfectly satisfied customers.

The Uncertain Customer

The uncertain customer is a customer that comes into a bakery with no clear idea of what he or she wants to purchase. This customer may have very little experience ordering baked goods. He may be planning a birthday party for the first time. She may want to try something new without knowing exactly what it is she wants to try. You can help this customer by having a checklist of questions that transition from vague to specific. First, figure out what type of event or dinner is being planned. Next, determine the size of the event, the theme of the event, the other food being served at an event, and the food the customer still needs. Then, move on to flavors, styles, price, etc. This customer needs you, the baker, to take charge and offer assistance.

The Very Specific Customer

The opposite of the uncertain customer is the very specific customer. These customers "know" exactly what they want, but they may not realize that your business operates differently than they imagined or anticipated. With this customer, it is important to make sure to repeat their specific requirements and then clearly explain how you will meet these requirements. If you don't have a specific flavor or offer a specific item, offer suggestions to this customer about equivalent products.

The Determined to be Upset Customer

Sometimes, customers seem to be determined to get upset when they are ordering from you or picking up a finished product. There is often nothing that you can do to solve the problems or complaints of these dissatisfied customers. Still, it's important to remember that it is your responsibility to try. Detailed preparation will help you prevent run-ins with customers who are determined to be upset. Don't allow customers to be ambiguous when ordering. Gather information about colors, sizes, flavors, dates, and other important order details so that you can exceed your customers' expectations.