A professional bakery customer service policy helps you and your employees guarantee customer happiness and that you all handle any unhappy customers professionally.
You want your customers to return again and again and refer you to everyone who is looking for a bakery. The best marketing in the world is a good referral. Even if you only own a tiny home bakery, you still need a great customer service policy!
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A happy customer is a repeat customer.
In fact, you want your customers to become your biggest fans. Fans go out of their way to tell others about your business and order from you for every occasion! Yes, please!
This will happen only if you can combine your great products with outstanding customer service. Your customer service policy is the game plan for all interactions with your customers. How you treat your customers in every situation you can imagine should written in your bakery’s customer service policy.
Plan your way to success
It’s pretty easy to be polite and happy when everything is going great, what about when there is a problem?
Thinking ahead and designing your own customer service policy will give you a guide to follow so that you can behave consistently as you move forward in your business.
This is a fluid document. It changes with your business, if something doesn’t work, you revisit it and change it. It should be personal to you and your business and fit your style.
The reason I enjoy having my policies in place is that the policy can become my “higher authority.”
Why would you need a “Higher Authority” if you’re the boss?
Speaking for myself, sometimes I lose confidence or come upon a very aggressive client. Sometimes it’s an emotionally trying day, and it’s hard to think like a savvy entrepreneur.
The customer service policy allows me to look at my own established rules I made when I was calm and collected and give reasons and answers without ending up inconsistent or unprofessional.
“Because I said so!” only works for parents and teachers half the time, so I don’t suggest shouting it at your customers.
If policies and procedures work for the largest corporations in the world, they will work for us too. Creating the policy before you are faced with an emotional situation gives you the footing to do what’s best for your business.
How to make your own official bakery customer service policy
Now we get into the logistics of making your very own professional customer service policy.
This is not meant to be legal advice and comes with no guarantees (please consult a professional attorney, accountant, designer, doctor, etc. before implementing any of these practices)
Imagine how you want every part of your interaction with your customers to work and write it down from start to finish:
How do your customers find out about you?
Let customers know you are here and what you are offering. How are you going to do that? Will it be online, in a newspaper, a community bulletin board, word of mouth? However it happens, make it happen.
What are your business hours?
You have to decide when you will allow customers to contact you. If you don’t, you will be answering calls at all times of the day. If you are operating from home, it will be really hard not to work 24/7. Set some real hours, even if they can’t just walk in and get a cupcake.
How do they communicate with you to ask questions?
Do you accept direct messages on Instagram, Facebook, text, or email? Do they have to call you if they have a question? You decide. My advice is to make it easy… for you and them.
How do they get pricing quotes?
I strongly suggest you make this formal. Maybe a form on your website or Google form they can access. You need to know more information than, “How much for this cake.” With an attached photo of some other baker’s work. So, when you get that message, direct them to your professional quote “funnel.”
Also, the more information they can find about your pricing and custom orders before asking for the quote, the easier it will be for them to know if they should even ask you for a quote. For instance, “Custom cakes start at $500.” Completely avoids conversations with people who don’t want to pay more than $500 for a cake. (Read my article on pricing your desserts here!)
How long do they wait for a quote?
Sometimes quotes can take a while, make sure they know when to expect an answer.
How long do they have to wait to get an answer for phone, email, text, social media?
By making a policy on this, your customers can know what to expect. Example: calls and texts within 4 hours during business hours, emails the same day within business hours, social media- same day within business hours. If you cannot answer completely in the time allowed, reach out and let the client know you haven’t forgotten and when they can expect an answer.
How do they place an order?
Do you have an online order system, do they email you what they want?
How do they give you money?
Do they pay online or in-person? Do they mail you a check? Again, make it easy for you and them. I really like PayPal. It’s easy to send invoices, swipe cards, and well buy ingredients with my PayPal debit card. (I am not an affiliate of PayPal, just a customer.)
Do they pay a deposit or the full balance upfront? Does this depend on the total?
Do not fear charging a deposit or the full amount upfront for smaller orders. If you are baking to order, please make them pay at least enough to cover your hard costs upfront. The people who avoid paying upfront are the same people who will not pick up their orders.
Where do they get what they ordered?
When do they pick it up? Do you deliver? Do they meet you somewhere? You don’t want any confusion here.
How are you dressed when you interact with your clients?
You do not need a uniform, but you need to wear professional looking clothes. If you can get some shirts embroidered or t-shirts printed, you will be more easily identified and your logo can start becoming recognized.
How do you speak when you represent your bakery?
You don’t have to be formal, but be consistent in your business persona. Is it, “Yes, ma’am” or is it “Yeah, like whatever dude?” You decide you will attract customers that like your persona and way of being and there are all sorts out there in the world.
How do you follow up with them after their order to say thank you and let them know you appreciate them?
This can really set you apart and make them fall in love with you. It’s important for your clients to know how much you truly appreciate their support.
How do you encourage them to leave great reviews?
Asking and you shall receive. When you thank them for their business, ask them to review you. On your boxes, ask for a review. On your receipts, ask for a review. Ask, ask, ask.
How do you keep in touch?
Do you have an email newsletter? Can you reach out on Facebook? How about direct mailing them a postcard? You decide, but don’t let them forget you.
What if they have to cancel an order?
Do you need a certain amount of time? Can they even cancel? Will they receive a refund? Can they transfer the order to another date?
What if they are really unhappy with the product or service?
This is the code red that we all dread, but it happens. What are you going to do? (Read my article on dealing with unhappy clients here!)
What is your refund policy?
They need to know this in advance. If they can get one and how they get one if you offer it. You don’t have to offer one, but if you do, I suggest you require a returned product vs. their word it was bad. Examples “All orders are non-refundable” or “Refund available within 24 hours with 75% of uneaten product returned.”
What is your policy if it is your fault?
For instance, missed deliveries, forgotten orders, altogether wrong orders. You need to make it right. How will you do it? I try to imagine what would make me happy in the same situation and then offer that.
What is your public reaction to a negative review?
You need to respond to every review. I give some suggestions for this in this post titled: What to Do When Someone Publicly Criticizes Your Baking Business
More Customer Service Resources:
Score: Customer Service Resources – You can’t beat free advice from professionals who want to see your small business succeed.
Small Business Administration: Customer Service – Another free resource provided in the form of a short course on customer service.