This is going to be a pretty raw and emotional post. Mostly because I’m going to be super vulnerable and open up about this. It’s never easy to talk about your flaws or weaknesses, or bad days. But this was a bad day.
I recently offered my cake tasting boxes for Valentine’s Day, which sold out in record time. They are only offered a few times a year, and is how I handle wedding cake tastings for my clients! The boxes include a variety of 10 different popular and seasonal cake flavours. I worked endlessly the day prior baking up over 800 of these mini cakes, completely exhausting myself to put together all of the boxes for pickups the next day. I gave it my all, and then some.
So when I received a message from one customer, hearing they were unhappy with my cake, my heart kind of shattered. It was all I could think about that night, not the 3 bridal couples that loved the cake and booked their weddings that same day, not all of the 5 star reviews that people left. All I could think about was the one customer that was unhappy.
I know that not everyone will love me, or my products. And that’s okay. Everyone has different tastes, different opinions, and the world would honestly be a pretty boring place if we all liked the same things!
The only reason her message shook me up so bad, was that it was personal. As a creator, I put my heart and soul into every single piece of work. It’s like a little piece of me is in every cake that goes out my door. So hearing that her and her guests were not satisfied with the cakes I had given her, was like hearing they were not satisfied with me. I knew as soon as I opened her message she wasn’t happy. I knew that I would need to breathe…relax. Not respond right away, in which I knew I would come off defensive and a bit angry, because right then I was just hurt. I asked to call her the next day to discuss her concerns. Unfortunately I didn’t get that chance to talk to her and to make it right.
The entire next day, I felt like a crumpled piece of paper. I had lost every ounce of self confidence in myself and my cakes, and started second guessing everything. I was so worried that every other customer that day was going to feel the same way she did. Other customers giving me positive feedback was going in one ear, and out the other. All I could see was her message, hating everything. Realistically, I should never have let that one customer have so much power over me. I should have focused on the good. I should have focused on all of the great reviews I was getting. But I couldn’t, all I could think about was her.
I don’t receive negative reviews or criticism often, but it does obviously happen! It is so important as a creative, to take away something positive from the situation. If the complaint is valid, really listen and take notes to make those changes and improvements. If the complaint is unfair, still listen and move on politely. Regardless of the complaint, I always want to show my customers the respect and attention they deserve. I want to rectify the situation and come to a solution together. Had I had the chance to talk with my unsatisfied customer, I was fully prepared to do so, but I did not get that chance.
Of course, I want my business to succeed. I want to offer the best products I can. If there are changes that I can make that will improve something, I want to hear all about them! I put my everything into my business, and appreciate every word of feedback whether good or bad!
Being an entrepreneur is lonely. I feel every comment and criticism down to my bones. I also smile ear to ear, and totally jump up and down, at every single good review I receive. My point is, I notice. I care.
This post is not to make anyone second guess giving constructive criticism…but to make sure it is constructive! Remember that on the other side of you computer, there is an actual person that is reading your comments, some of which can be so hurtful and unnecessary. When a customer rips apart so much of my work like that, getting past that hurt takes time. Time and a great support system! While my husband and friends can be there for me, they don’t understand my business and how much of my soul I put into it. They don’t understand the amount of work, blood, sweat, and tears that go into running your own business.
But thankfully, I have found another support group! Through networking, I have become close friends with many other entrepreneurs, whether they are cake artists, photographers, shop owners, artists…and that day they know exactly what I was feeling. They can all relate, and I’m sure share a similar experience about an unhappy client. Reaching out to my support system, hearing rational and helpful ideas, was exactly what I needed. Feeling like I was NOT alone. None of them told me ‘to not take it personal’, because unlike so many others, they understood how personal my work is to me. They understood why I was upset, which was such a comfort.
Looking back at that day, over 70 boxes of tasting cakes went out my front door. I can’t let one bad review bring me down. When I received one bad review, it also meant that the other 69 customers left happy.
You can’t win them all. And I try to remember that it is okay.