These days consistently producing high-quality baked goods is not enough to win over customers. The totality of the customer experience is key to retention and building word of mouth for your home bakery.
The customer experience sets a business apart from the average baker down the street. From the first contact through the customer enjoying their treat at their celebration, that experience will determine whether a customer is returning.
This blog will explain four crucial tactics to providing an overall exceptional customer experience. These steps will help set YOUR home bakery apart from others and make your customers want to return again and again.
1. Be responsive to inquiries and clear in all your communications.
From the first point of contact, you should respond with professional and polite communication. Be friendly, answer questions and share your policies about pricing, delivery/pickups, etc.
Have the mindset, how I can make it easier for my customers. You could send a photo of the front of your house if that’s the pickup location. Think about when you go to a new place and aren’t sure. Sending a photo signals to the customer you are anticipating their needs.
If someone reached out to you with a question or placed an order, you must get back in touch with them in a reasonable amount of time. No, you don’t need to respond at midnight but don’t leave customers hanging.
Use your email, voicemail, website, and order form to set expectations around when they can expect to hear from you. Perhaps your messaging says you will return all inquiries within two business days. Then, at least folks are not wondering when you will get back to them.
As a busy baker, automation can be beneficial to save time and let you focus on your immediate priorities. Set up an email autoresponder or IG & Facebook automated response that lets people know it’s an automated message and when you will be in touch.
I also prefer when automated messages say that they are automated. It cuts down on confusion. I recommend turning off your automated messages if you are actively checking them. If you know you are unable to check or taking a brief break, then reactivate it.
Here is a short, simple version of an automated response:
This is an automated message.
Thank you for your inquiry. I will respond within 24 business hours.
(You could add answers to a few frequently asked questions about availability, timing, delivery, etc.)
Here is an automated message from Lindsey Loupe Montz from Cookies by Lindsey, which I think is effective. It’s the perfect mix of friendly and informative.
2. Provide instructions on transportation, storing, and serving.
Don’t assume people know things that seem like common sense to you. Be explicit and say, keep this flat, store it in the refrigerator, eat this at room temperature — whatever the advice is, tell people up front.
True story, this happened to me when I had my bakery. I had a customer purchase cupcakes and come back 90 minutes later to say they had melted in her car. She had put the cupcakes in her sweltering vehicle while she went shopping. I was DUMBFOUNDED. You left iced cupcakes in your car on a hot day?? I took the high road and did not shame her but calmly explained why that didn’t make sense.
Or when a husband picks up a cake and holds it with one hand, and you wonder: is that going to make it home? Because of these incidents, I was specific about certain precautions, like the cake needs to be kept level and placed on the floor of your car. Please don’t put it on the seat. Also, be sure to keep it at room temperature or refrigerated until 2 hours before serving. I shared whatever would be helpful to the customer after I showed them their order before I closed up the box. (Aside: Always show customers their treats before they accept the order. You will save yourself some major headaches.)
That’s why I love that Susan Davis from Davis Bakes and Jackelyne Reyes from Momma Mias Sweet Treats go above and beyond to provide their customers with the necessary information. Below are images of their instructions.
3. Give every customer who orders a thank you note.
When was the last time someone wrote you a thank you note? Seriously? A written note to show appreciation is an anomaly in an age of quick misspelled texts and emails. You can handwrite a note or get printed cards that feature your name, business, and social media handles and quickly write a brief thank you.
The concept is called “surprise and delight.” It’s a valuable loyalty marketing tactic. CrowdTwist (Source) shared: when customers see their business is appreciated, it increases brand satisfaction and leads to greater engagement and increased sales.
If you want to take it to the next level, stand out from your competition by giving a thank you treat with their order.
Do something nice for your customers, and they will remember and appreciate it.
4. Follow up on orders and check-in to make sure customers were happy.
It’s up to you to decide who you are as a business owner. Are the person that goes the extra mile for customers? You should be. You are in a service business, and the goods that home bakers provide are luxury products. Customers could go to Walmart or their local grocery store for a cake or cookies, but your customers choose you.
I recommend you contact customers to check in about their experience and if they enjoyed their item/s. I recognize this could be uncomfortable. You may believe in the “no news is good news” approach. But if there were a problem, wouldn’t you like a chance to make it right before that customer tells ten other people.
According to this survey, 95% of respondents who have had a bad experience said they told someone about it, compared to 87% who shared a good experience. Read my blog post if you need help dealing with a negative online review.
What if there is something you could make right after the fact? Then you become the hero in that story. Or what if you could improve the experiences of your next 100 customers simply by a customer sharing a valid criticism with you.
It can be difficult to hear criticism objectively and, if necessary, take appropriate action, but that is precisely the type of action that will improve your business and make it stand out.
Let’s not forget that now every customer has a megaphone called social media where good or bad word of mouth can travel to a much wider audience.
Also, you will most likely discover how thrilled the customer was, which would be the perfect opportunity to ask for a testimonial or review. If you want to know more about asking for testimonials/reviews, check out my blog post.
As Seth Godin says about businesses, “you must be remarkable.” Godin describes remarkable as “something worth talking about. Worth noticing. Exceptional.”
You need to have a business that people “remark” about. Selling a good product and having okay customer service is not going to be enough. If you master the tactics in this blog post, you are on your way to genuinely owning a remarkable home bakery with returning happy customers.