Recently, I had to follow-up with a customer complaint, the recipient of the flowers didn’t like what one of our designers did for her. The order asked for a contemporary arrangement. Well, what does contemporary mean to a florist, or more importantly what does it mean when it comes to floral design.

Dictionary.com defines the word contemporary as “.. existing, occurring, or living at the same time; belonging to the same time”. You ask well how does that translate to floral design; good question.

My personal perspective on contemporary floral design, is design that has clean simple lines, nothing fussy..but simple and elegant.  Our shop, like many other flower shops are members of wire services. At Alta Vista Flowers we are members of FTD, Teleflora and Bloomnet. A tough call as these services come with a high price, but also provide a consistent stream of orders for a shop but little one on one communication with the person that ordered it.

One of the difficulties is that the order is entered by a member florist the order is transmitted over a wire service and comes to us and in a few words describes what the customer would like to send to a recipient. Sometimes the order makes references to orders that the customer has seen or types of flowers or colours the person may or may not like.  Sometimes, the order just says “arrangement”, the one order I am speaking of said “contemporary arrangement”. One of our designers did what she thought was a contemporary arrangement.

This person had picked up her arrangement and mentioned at the time that she was not happy with it, unfortunately, the person that designed it, served her when she picked up her arrangement and did not respond to her dissatisfaction. It turned out it was not what the recipient thought was a contemporary arrangement. In fact, it was an arrangement that caused the recipient a lot of anguish, enough that she brought it back. Her arrangement was redone by another designer and made to suit her idea of what was contemporary. I must say that in the years that I have been in the business I have never witnessed this kind of reaction.

The recipient composed a very lengthy email explaining her experience, her reaction to the arrangement and her displeasure.  I take all complaints very seriously, not that we get that many, but I think it is representative of maybe a few people who are not 100% satisfied and there are only a handful that actually complain.

So, I called the recipient of the flowers and tried to explain that the designer had a rattling day, and apologized for what she received and any inconvenience that she might of experienced. We started talking and talking and a half hour went by and I came to the realization that you know that it really is all about taking the time to communicate ; to listen, asking questions, responding, and dialogue. I feel like I left the conversation with a kinship and hope that I will have a future client relationship with this person or even possibly a friendship.

We generally don’t get the opportunity to ask the recipients what they want. We just kind of guess, we look at the card message, the order, anything to give us a clue as to what kind of arrangement we should design-something traditional, modern, contemporary, exotic.  Our ESP link doesn’t always work, we try, but it sometime fails us.

So, next time when we ask all those questions when you place your order, try not to get too frustrated, we are just trying to tune in our ESP link so we can design the perfect floral gift for the recipient.

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