Customer Service, a Two Way Street!

I just got off the phone with an irate potential client who contacted us last Friday to cook at an event next week. This is a VERY BUSY time of year for us…booking and cooking and it get’s even busier as the summer rolls along! I mention this to EVERYONE who calls us this time of year to schedule an event and assumes our availability! When our smokers are full…they’re full…that’s it! (sorry!!! 😦 ) I’m also pretty good at discussing our Booking Contract and Deposit requirements…we do this the same with every customer!

She was understandably mad because she asked for an Estimate on Friday and I hadn’t delivered it yet! In fact, because of our plans to head to Alabama and help folks, I wasn’t sure of our availability so I let her know by e-mail and provided the contact info for an alternate local BBQ caterer along with my apology. She then left me a SCATHING voice mail (on my personal cell – which I gave her) demanding that I call!

This isn’t my first (or even second business and I know that the customer is always right), so I returned her call only to be lectured that my ‘off the cuff’ per person cost for a 4 meat/4 side/appetizer and dessert menu was ‘crazy’ compared to the ‘tablecloth’ caterers.  I explained (as I have here on the Blog and in person MANY times before) that our cooking process takes much longer than most and our sourcing may be a bit different than others and that it increased our costs.  Nothing…still pissed! 

THEN, she let me know that the THREE OTHER caterers that she called (ie: I’d be bidding against) WERE available and provided her with immediate estimates (as we typically do, but we’ve got other priorities at the moment)!  I explained that I had directed her to another caterer and that we would be heading to help folks in need this weekend and that this was where my time and efforts have been focused since middle of business on Saturday…NOTHING…still pissed!

Told her we weren’t interested in her business and I’m bracing for the negative ‘online review’, but it is what it is!  Just stinks that it would happen in the middle of a week like this?  What do you think?  Did I handle this correctly?  What could I have done differently?  We are DEFINITELY NOT a ‘low bid’ caterer and our availability is limited!  I spent nearly 20 years working as a Paramedic and several more on the Donor side of Transplant…my whole life has been about helping others…I am, to say the least, disappointed!


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