I'd thought that I'd written about how to handle clients complaints on here before, but when I did a search I couldn't find much about it. Which is interesting, since that's one thing that people always seem to be confused about.
So then...How should you handle client complaints? There seems to be a few ways that people respond to complaints.
First is to refund the cost of the cake, or a partial refund.
Second would be to refuse to refund anything if the complaint is ridiculous. And some are.
Third would be to offer a discount on a future purchase.
This is the one I want to address...Discounting future purchases only makes sense if the client is someone who's a regular of yours. It also only makes sense if the complaint about the product is something that the client is willing to overlook, if that makes sense.
For a wedding cake that falls over, a coupon good for 50% off a birthday cake to be ordered in the future is not an acceptable tradeoff.
For a birthday cake where the colors were supposed to be pink and red, but you made it orange and red, it might be okay.
It's a matter of degree, and of frequency. If I'm a new customer and the service that I got was crappy, I'm certainly not going to go back to use a 50% off coupon for something that might end up being just as bad.
I recently had a lovely experience with Delta airlines...To make a long story short, they ripped me off for in-flight internet, then wanted to give me a voucher for free internet on my next flight to make up for it. I don't fly that often, so they were basically telling me to go pound sand. (The full story is here)
I'm not a frequent flyer, so a coupon does me no good. If I did fly a lot I might have been able to use that coupon, but it wasn't what I'd asked them for.
When I have an experience that's sufficiently bad to make me ask for a refund, I also want to be done with it. I don't want to hold onto a coupon, I want my money back.
So personally, my advice on the idea of offering a discount is to not do it. I know that some people think it's a good way to keep the client "in the loop" and show them a better product in the future, but that only works if the client has been a customer before and is willing to buy from you again.