Dear Preston: Should I Call My Disappointed Bride?

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(Photo via Sweet n’ Pretty)

Dear Preston,

I worry I’m acting like I’m still in high school and overreacting as I write this, but… My catering company was recently listed in a bride-submitted article for a statewide wedding magazine. One of my new wedding clients saw the article and followed up with the bride, inquiring about my services. To my surprise, the new wedding client told me that the bride said even though she was happy in the meetings and tastings, she was disappointed with the final product.

I was very upset and surprised as the bride never told me she was dissatisfied. Even though the issues were “small things,” as the bride put it — confusion on the bill, tense staff, not everyone got seconds — I am seriously bothered.

Should I call the bride (her wedding was in June 2011)? I ‘m not necessarily worried about losing business as this has never happened before. However, I do care about how my previous bride feels about her wedding day meal. And I wonder if calling her will help keep the collateral damage to a minimum. Or maybe she’ll think I’m trying to influence her? My business partner says I shouldn’t call, because we do wonderful work, and you can never make everyone happy.

What do you think I should do, Preston?

Thank you very much,
Upset Caterer

Dear Upset,

Thank you for your question. This is an important issue, because it relates to customer service — and if you follow my blog, you know how strongly I feel about good customer service. I’m going to be frank. You said you were upset and surprised, because this bride never told you she was disappointed. But why on earth were you waiting for her to reach out to you?

You should have followed up with this bride a week or two after her wedding back in June. You’re a caterer — you could have sent her and her new husband a delicious thank you gift. And you definitely should have called them, welcomed them home from their honeymoon, thanked them again for their business and asked if there was anything you and your team could have done better.

I guarantee that if you had called, you would have learned all the “small things” that disappointed the bride. And, at that point, you would have been in a good place to show the bride you care. You might have even been able to address some of her concerns.

From now on, you should reach out to every single one of your clients after their event. Don’t wait for them to call you.

You mentioned that one of the bride’s issues was with staff who seemed tense. It’s important to reach out to clients not only so you can provide them with good customer service and show you care but also so that you can improve your business. If there’s a problem with your waitstaff, you need to know that. Maybe you need to give them more training.

I agree with your business partner that reaching out to this bride now probably won’t make a difference. Instead, I would wait until her one-year wedding anniversary in June. Bake the couple something — maybe some cookies — and include a handwritten card wishing them a happy anniversary.

It’s likely the bride will call and thank you for your thoughtfulness. At that time, you can broach the subject of her wedding and ask if there is anything you could have done better. But if you don’t hear from her, just let it go.

Dear Readers, what do you think of my advice to this caterer? What would you do in her shoes? Do you follow up with your clients after their events? If not, you should!

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