The Customer’s Perception is Your Reality

This is a phrase I like to use a lot. In fact, it’s posted next to every customer service rep’s desk in our office. The fact is, we ship out thousands of products every week, and it can be easy to forget the importance of each individual order. That being said, we know that 75% of the products we send are gifts, each one of those gifts represents and important event for the person sending it. Of course people use us for all the traditional events – birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine ’s Day – but they also use us for wedding proposals, bereavement, and other real life changing events. Fact is, they’re all important. That’s why we place such a high priority on customer service and on giving EVERY customer the treatment they deserve.

The Customer's Perception is Your Reality

Even though we ship thousands of products every week, each one is the most important one for that customer

However, as with any company, sometimes we screw up. It’s just a fact. It’s going to happen. It’s how you respond to those mistakes that’s important though. Take the following example that happened today.

One week after a customer’s order is delivered, our system automatically sends them an email asking them how we’ve done. The email has a link to a feedback form that asks a variety of questions and gives them an area to provide open feedback. This has been an extremely valuable tool for us. It allows us to track customer satisfaction, but more importantly, it allows us to catch mistakes that may otherwise go unnoticed. This morning, I received a feedback form that had the following comment:

The customer service person was not very warm or welcoming when I first called about your cupcakes and I really take notice to that. I will not be ordering again

This really shocked me since I know how pleasant and helpful our customer service team is. But that didn’t matter. This customer felt otherwise. I immediately responded back with the following:

Thank you very much for taking the time to fill out our feedback form. As a family run business, we take customer service very seriously and appreciate hearing from our customers. Because of our focus on customer service, it’s disappointing to me that you felt the person you spoke to was not warm or welcoming. This is our number one priority at Wicked Good Cupcakes, so for me, that’s unacceptable. Do you happen to remember who you spoke with on the phone? Also, aside from them not making you feel warm or welcome, were they able to offer you a satisfactory resolution to your issue?

I would like to do whatever it takes to win you back as a customer. I can tell you that I personally read every feedback form that comes in, and your treatment is the exception, not the rule. With that, I want to make sure I can do whatever I can to correct that for you.



My goal was to get ahead of the issue and do whatever I needed to let this customer know that we care, and more importantly, that we heard and listened to her feedback.  I got a response back from her within the hour. It read:

Thank you Mr. Noonan for your kind response. Unfortunately, I do not have the person’s name who was working with me. I had called because I was a first time customer and I was inquiring on how to order the cupcakes. I was hoping for an energetic welcoming representative happy and patient to answer my questions, but instead was directed to the website with a response that I would find my answers online. I was considering a 4 pack for my husband’s birthday so our family of four could enjoy.  In the end I decided to order a two pack through your website. 

I hope this information is helpful.

My immediate response:

Thank you very much for providing details. I can tell you that we are a very small group in customer service and are always happy to help any customer that calls. I can’t answer for the person who simply directed you to the website, but can tell you that I’ve shared your experience with the rest of the team. We always strive to give the best customer service possible, but we are not above mistakes and not above admitting when we’ve made one. We try to turn these mistakes into learning moments for us all, so I’d like to thank you for giving us this feedback to learn from.

Thanks again and if there is every anything I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

I then spoke with the entire team and shared the emails. Not to chastise them, but to remind them of the importance of something as simple as how you speak with a customer on the phone. We try to make any mistake a teaching moment and learn from it. That’s the productive way to solve problems. While I was talking to the team, my phone rang. It was the customer. She could not believe that not only did someone actually respond to her feedback, they actually took the time to hear her follow up and admit that they made a mistake. She continued to thank me and said she would absolutely order from us again and she would be recommending us to all her friends.

We didn’t do anything magical. We simply cared. Lessons to be learned?

  1. Listen to your customers – you never know if they’re going to be your next corporate client (we’ve got some corporate clients that spend over $1,000/month sending client gifts)
  2. Admit when you’re wrong or you’ve made a mistake. Don’t make excuses. Make it right with the customer
  3. Make every mistake a learning moment. We all make mistakes. Instead of screaming and yelling at your employees, take the time to learn as a group. Trust me, it works. Our people appreciate it and work extra hard to achieve greatness because of it

Bottom line: your customers are your life blood. No matter what you think, it’s what they think that matters. Your customer’s perception is your reality.