Overpromise (and still deliver)

Hi M,

That is indeed true: If you have set a high standard with delighting customers, it is very difficult to surpass that the next time you come into contact with your client. 

This is, in a way, the same with Nespresso, they communicate so much about the ‘Nespresso experience’ that I always will a bit suspicious. Still I like their coffee (and machines). 


So I was surprised (again) when I contacted their customer service. I called to complain about the leaking water reservoir of the coffee machine I have (gift from a friend, who bought it at a MediaMarkt, not at Nespresso). The lady on the phone was very friendly, asked for my client number and, when I couldn’t find it in a few seconds, she looked it up for me. Then I explained about my leaking machine and she immediately apologized (for the machine and the fact that her colleague a few months earlier said that there was no solution for it) and then she sent of a new container right away.

After that, she asked if I needed new coffee. When I said that I already bought new cups, she responded enthusiastically and she wished me ‘a good coffee experience’. 

Helped within a minute after calling, no need for looking for my client number, receiving a new part -free of charge- for a machine that was bought elsewhere and an enthusiastic employee. What more could I wish for?



Paying back with interest

Hi M!

At least the driver at the airport created Customer Delight for your daughter! You give a clear example that Delight is different for all of us. And if you find the code to a persons desire, you really create something beautiful!

Remember we were at the car dealer a few weeks ago? I was considering to have the navigation software in my car updated, but decided -because of price, € 300- to leave it for a while. Until Ruben, the sales executive, offered to wash my car. You know that I prefer to do that myself (although he did a very nice job), but the effect was that I immediately changed my mind and asked if they could update the navigation as well: when someone does something nice for you, you want to repay with interest!

Audi Ames

So when we talk about ROI of Customer Delight, it can be quite quick and substantial!


Thin air

Hi Marieke!

Best wishes to you too. Nope, no Shangri-La postcard for me (I don’t know if they have my date of birth…). How did you get to Vietnam, by boat I hope? Because my last flight experience was ‘special’.

On the way back from our holiday, we had a stop over in Madrid. Because of a delay in Gran Canaria, we missed our connecting flight. So far, nothing special. The airline arranged for a suitable solution: 1 night stay in a hotel, including dinner and breakfast and a flight the following morning.


During the flight, the captain announced where our connecting gate was. We were surprised, because with 2, 5 hours delay, we expected to miss the connection. We only found out at the gate, that the plane had left 30 minutes earlier.

So we had to go to the counter, outside border control, to find out how to proceed. This counter was on another floor. After 20 minutes of searching, we found it, only to be transferred to another desk on yet another floor. There they told us that we had arrived on the right floor, but that we should go to another desk. At this desk, we had to join the line of 20 other travellers, who where waiting for the 2 employees to be helped.

frustration at airport


After 1 1/2 hours (with our 2 daughters in the age of 6), we finally made it to the front of the desk, while another 40 people where standing behind us. The lady (no eye-contact, no welcome, no apologies), offered us the hotel and next-day flight. BUT she could only propose this offer, we needed to go back to the previous counter to have it confirmed. Those people then redirected us to the first counter to get our tickets. 

All in all, 3 hours and 7 desks later, we were allowed to stand in line to wait for our shuttle to the hotel. As the kids were already demolishing the airport, we took a cab.

So the alternative (hotel and other flight) were good, but nobody from Air Europa ever looked at the process from a customer point of view, creating this stressful and frustrating experience. People will forget what you say, they will forget what you do, but they will never forget how you make them feel…

Who is in the centre?

Hi Marieke,

Haha, I think we all know the kind of managers that like to park in front of the door of their offices. Especially when he drives a 5 Series break (because they are usually referred to as ‘Touring’). At some hotels you have the parking spaces in front marked as ‘reserved for trainers’ and my trainer colleagues (me included) feel very special because of that…

To show you a little different perspective of feeling special, I received this anecdote from my business partner Patrick:

“I would like to share an example with you that for me represents the perfect customer delight moment. More than a year ago I did an assignment for a customer in Singapore. For this assignment I was accommodated at the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa resort.

I celebrated my birthday last month and was greatly surprised to receive e-mail from the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa resort congratulating me with my birthday.


After more than a year I did not expect that. I really appreciate it and, funny enough, it makes my already positive experience with this resort even better. Loyalty retroactively so to speak. It proves that it does have to take too much effort for a hotel to make such a small gesture and to stay on top of mind. I experienced it as being very attentive and thoughtful and it reconfirms my choice for Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa.”

Customer Delight revolves around how you make people feel!

I wish you the best Christmas possible (compared to all the years before, otherwise there will not be anything better next year) and a positively exciting start of 2014!


Understanding is the beginning

“Hello young lady” wouldn’t delight me, I must admit. But you are right about companies that look for shareholder value. It is very difficult for them to strive for long term success. But does this mean that their front line employees don’t care about customers?

The other day I was at HEMA, a Dutch non-food chain (although they are famous for sausages). At the cash desk I asked if the items could be gift wrapped. “No.” Was the direct reply, followed by: “It totalls to € 12,55.”, without even making eye contact. I replied: “Then we have a problem, because I need it wrapped. What solutions could you offer?” Luckely she had a colleague that could help her out. She sold me a separate gift box to put the items in. Problem solved. It is just that the first lady did not understand her job. She would probably describe it as “receive peoples’ money for bought items” in stead of “adding value to the buying process”.

Schermafbeelding 2013-10-08 om 18.13.31How different it is at my favorite Starbucks in De Meern: They know my name and my preferred coffee and always draw (per my request) a smiley on my cup. Last Friday one of them said: “You look like you really need the coffee today”. Was that a nice thing to say? For me it was. I had a very bad night sleep and I felt acknowledged that somebody noticed that. It is about understanding what your job is and creating a relationship!

Shaving smooth!

Hi Marieke,

Thank you for sharing your railway experiences! Now you understand why I travel by car 😉 
 All communications I read from NS (Dutch railways) are about efficiency and cost cutting. I read a graffiti the other day saying “Efficiency sucks!” I liked that, because if you play tennis with your eye on the score board (focus on efficiency) you won’t hit a ball.

Therefore I was pleasantly surprised by voordeligscheren.nl, a website specialized in shaving gear and razor blades. I mailed them a complaint and their response became nicer throughout the mail conversation: they started off with a -harsh- reply that they only sell good products, but the moment the contact became more personal (I was in contact with the same employee all the time), the better it got.

“Send it back and we will check”, was their second reply, so I did. Then they said that they couldn’t find any malfunction, but would replace the razor blades and add a new package for the inconvenience. In the end they even included a free trimmer for the (2 day) late delivery! 

That is exactly what you always say: service is created in personal interactions. So, it will be a challenge for NS to achieve that with (non functioning) ticket machines!

Standing in your shoes

Hoi Marieke,

I know that you are on the other side of the world, enjoying your holiday. Do they wear shoes over there? Because this blog is about a shoe-experience closer to home than Zappos.


I bought a pair of sneakers a year ago at a shoe store in Woerden (Verkuilen schoenen). They looked nice and were from a famous trekking brand. I was surprised that after only six weeks of light use (never walked far because of my little twin daughters) the sole came off. When I contacted the manufacturer, the reply was, that I should arrange it with the shoe store and that they didn’t feel responsible.

I was too lazy to react. So only recently, when I found the shoes in my closet, I decided -before I would throw them away- to go back to the store . They were more than helpful. They tried, but said that the manufacturer was still persistent and didn’t want to compensate anything, but the store manager offered a full refund if I would buy a new pair of the same brand or 50% if I would buy another brand.

Because I don’t want to have any connection to this trekking brand any more (I have some jackets and trousers of them, but will never buy again), I decided to have the 50% discount on another pair. At the cash desk the store manager said: “From next week we have an extra discount of 15%. It would feel a bit unfair for you if you would read that next week in the paper, so I already apply it to this transaction.” He then applied it to the full price and then took the 50% discount off. You bet I am walking on sunshine!

Dollar back on track

Hi Marieke,

Too bad that I only have a few hairs left, otherwise I would have really liked to meet Frank! Did you enjoy the wind through your (back then, it was still long) hair in the convertible in Las Vegas?


I really liked it, but at every trip it was a challenge to find the way with the bad working navigation system that we had rented with the car. I informed the staff about it, when I returned the car, but to my surprise, they replied with ‘ok’ (while in my opinion it was not ‘ok’…) and put it on the pile of navigation systems.

When I received a online satisfaction survey, I made a comment about it. Now, 2 weeks later, I got a reply: “(…) please accept my personal apologies for the unacceptable behavior exhibited by our employee.  I was very disturbed to hear of your experience and want to assure you this is no more acceptable to us than it was to you.  We pride ourselves on our employee’s ability to provide excellent customer service (…) In an effort to regain your confidence in Dollar Rent A Car, I have requested a credit in the amount of $112.89 to be issued to your credit card, for the inconvenience and non-working GPS unit. (…)”

Schermafbeelding 2013-06-28 om 21.21.21Dollar, you lost me as a customer two weeks ago, but today you stole my heart. I know where to rent next time!


Hi Marieke,

What an nice gesture from LaRed!


When I think back of the requests we sent out for interviews for our book, I b

elieve I see a similar pattern: the companies that really strive for implementing Customer Delight are also very fast and accurate in responding to our mails and telephone calls (some even respond immediately -even during weekends and at night-). This indicates that it is more than just lip service.



So to achieve a high level of service, you need more than a mission statement or a well trained sales force. It should be in every molecule of your organisation!

You are what you eat…

Hi Marieke,

I also do like chocolate (dark with sugar), but I also have my own preferences. A friend of mine in Singapore always says: “You are what you eat” referring to my diet of fruit and nuts. Thanks Richard! He might be right, but it brings me into contact with a lot of people (wanting to know about this ‘eating pattern’) amongst which is my supplier. 


Last week I walked in her shop to order new almonds, cashew nuts and dates. She asked me if I was satisfied with the quality of the last bag of dates I bought at her shop. When I said to her “That you could taste that it is the end of the season”. She pro-actively replaced the dates with new ones (“Throw the old ones away back home” she said) free of charge. Very nice service! This completely changes the relationship we have. From ‘opponents’: she tries to sell me something, to associates: she is the provider of something that I want and she delivers it to me in such a way that it is the only channel I want to make use of. I become part of her family in a way. 

Hi M,


Yes the public transportation is great. Not only is it very accurate, but people are also very service minded.

When I landed in Tokyo it was quite a culture shock not to understand anything. I went down to the train station with my train discount pass voucher, expecting to be sent from one counter to another (“No, you should first get your ticket at counter 2”, “Now you should go to the terminal on the other side”, “I don’t know at what time the train is leaving”.


In reality, something opposite happened. The first lady I asked for directions, guided me to the counter where I could transfer my voucher for a pass.

The man behind it -although only resposible for providing me with the pass- also provided me with the right train ticket, made a reservation for me and already arranged the transfer ticket too (“I have made a connection to the next train you need, I changed the step over point to a different station than Tokyo central, that is less crowded and therefore more convenient for you”). During the trip by train I was just flabbergasted…

Spring dance from the heart

Hi M,

I liked your comment on the Lexus Gallery and I liked the ‘Spring dance’! What made it so special for me was, that there is no memo from headquarters saying: “This month we will serve ‘Spring dance’ as a drink.”, but that employees are invited to come up with ideas to surprise customers. This gallery came up with 3 different drinks and selected to most suitable one for the season. That makes the experience even more special and unique! All from the idea that, to understand your customers better, you should think ahead for what they would appreciate.

An Apple through your Window

Hi Marieke,

Apple and Microsoft

As you know, I am a big Apple fan. But on my Mac I have to use Microsoft Office to provide clients with material in their desired format. Last week I got a Microsoft notification for a software update and I accepted it… The day before a important meeting/PowerPoint presentation. Since then the presentations stall at some point during a meeting. I contacted Microsoft about this, but didn’t expect any reply (as an Apple fan). To my surprise I received a personalized email within an hour and another hour later a software expert called me to solve the problem. Is it solved? Nope, not yet.

But he contacts me every other day to inform me about progression on the topic and to see how he can help me in the mean time. Although there is a problem, it was years back since I felt so positive about Microsoft! This reminded me of a research of Mercedes years ago in the States: If you deliver a product without a fault, the customer delight effect is lower, than when you deliver it with a (small) defect and have a service organization that solves the problem personally and quickly!

Smart to deliver

Hoi Marieke,

What a beautiful movie on Youtube! I really liked it, because you (I) couldn’t see the end coming. Now we are talking about air planes, the interview with Changi in Singapore comes back to mind. I was really impressed by the system they had on their toilets to keep track on cleanliness. As they stated: toilets are very important, because it is usually the first touch point that passengers encounter (I usually run to the toilet myself after landing). After someone made a toilet dirty, the next passenger will only notice a dirty toilet, without having the information that it just happened before him. 

To combine efficiency (not to have staff present at all toilets all the time) and high standards, they use this smart monitors:

The moment someone leaves a negative comment, the toilet cleaner is informed through his smart phone and the cleaner has 15 minutes to respond (go to that toilet, touch the monitor and clean the place). Really smart way of sustaining high standards!

High (in the sky)!

Haha, I have read your facebook post about ‘Blue Monday’, indeed it is so not-you to be influenced by ‘the most depressing day of the year’. After all, YOU make your day. Not the weather or the time of year. 

We flew on Boxing day to Gran Canaria with Transavia, a budget airline. I have my share of experience with other budget airlines, but Transavia doesn’t belong in that line of experiences. We were waiting at the gate with all other passengers and when the crew arrived they all said good morning in a very cheery way, wishing us a good 2nd Christmas day. That was already a nice start. After take off, the pilot came back to us with some additional information and brought to our attention that ‘the lovely crew’ would be at our disposal and that we would go to a ‘beautiful Island’. He rounded off with the message: “You will see how quick this flight will go and when you turn to your wife/children/loved-ones you will say: “What a pleasant and easy flight!””. The fact that he made the message personal (and not the standard info about flight hight and speed (in knots, what are knots!?)), made it different. Also the crew was lovely during the flight and very service minded and they kept smiling. Off course you had to pay for everything your ordered, but my misconception that Customer Delight can only occur at premium organizations, was indeed proved wrong again. As long as they surpass your expectations!


Hi Marie,

Haha, indeed in Holland we wouldn’t be surprised if an employee in the supermarket greets you. So even within Europe, levels of expectations are different. From a Dutch perspective: I am not a huge fan of Philips. That might have something to do with our Dutch Calvinism, always criticizing our own products and brands (even the Dutch soccer team or our ‘Poldermodel’). But today they struck me in a very positive way!

I only use energy saver light bulbs in my house and because the cradle to grave waste of a LED light is higher than of a traditional energy saver, I will continue to do so for a few more years. But yesterday one of my light bulbs died, after only 2 years of service. On the box it says: “8 years life time!” and because I was also fooled by that a few years ago, I  kept the box and receipt this time. When I went back to the store to claim waranty, they advised to contact Philips directly. I thought: “O my, here we go!”. Trying to reach a big company and getting your problem across is usually a big and time consuming challenge.

Not at Philips it is! They clearly mark the customer service telephone number on their website, in Dutch, and when you call it, you get an employee on the other side of the line, not a computer system or a recorded voice that tells you for 10 minutes that they appreciate your call. This employee was sincerely interested in my situation, was very relaxed (and explained everything he did on the other side) and helpful. Not the usual: “We have never heard of that problem before” or “It is probably your own fault”, but in stead: “This is not what you may expect from our light bulbs and I can imagine that you are disappointed.”.When I told him that this happend before with the same model bulb, but that I didn’t had that receipt anymore, he replied: “That is no problem, we will send you 2 new bulbs. Enjoy your day and the Philips light.” 

Wow, Philips made my day a little brighter!

Stay connected!

Hi Marieke,

Happy new year to you and your family! Will you also show me the Vodafone shop in Paris? I have just returned from my holiday to the Canary Islands. I have become a real internet junkie over the last 3 years. First, this resulted in huge telephone bills when I was traveling abroad to keep my smartphone online. What I now do is, I visit the first Cellphone shop I see and buy a local data-SIM. I have a collection now: SIM-cards from Germany, Ireland, Italy, South Africa and Spain.

When we arrived at Gran Canaria, I directly drove off to the big shopping mall with a Vodafone shop. The girl remembered me from last year (and I remembered her because of her good service). Unfortunately she was out of stock of prepaid data SIM-cards, but she directed me to the electronic department of the supermarket around the corner. The lady over there sold a SIM-card to me, but because her English was worse than my Spanish (which is terrible), I didn’t know if I had bought the right one.

So I went back to my Vodafone girl to show the SIM-card. In a Spanish emotional way, she shook her head and sighed. Then she took little big steps (she is about 1,50 meters tall) towards the supermarket, with me right behind her. In a very clear (and loud!) way she explained to the lady from the supermarket what to do and how to activate the card for me. Now that is service!

10 minutes later I walked out of the shopping mall with a SIM-card activated for data and after bringing a box of Merci chocolate to my Vodafone girl.

I am even considering now to change to Vodafone here in Holland!

People matter

Hi Marieke,

That would be interesting indeed: instead of receiving your incentive after a sale, it is paid in small pieces on a monthly basis, as long as your customer is happy. Don’t you see this happening with bonus structures at CEO level? They get shares that can only be converted after several years to avoid CEO’s aiming at short term success (and lower share values in the long run).

As a birthday present I got a Nespresso machine from one of my best friends. Beautiful machine and great coffee. As part of the welcome you get a € 30 discount on your first purchase. You and I value Nespresso very high when it comes to Customer Delight, so I was very curious how this process would work out. I must say that the system infrastructure could improve, because I had to contact 3 service employees (2 on the phone, 1 on chat) to get it organized. Normally this would disappoint me, but what Nespresso seems to understand is, that it is all about people. So everybody I talked to was very service oriented, friendly and pro-active. Just one example: the chat session was disconnected (my mistake) and within 2 minutes the same lady I had on the chat, called me on the phone to apologize for the inconvenience and to help me to get my discount. All very nice, so thanks Melissa!

-1 into +2


You wondered if the experience in Marocco had to do with recruitment or training. It sounds like a combination of both. Don’t you agree that companies that really invest in recruitment understand the value of human capital and are more willing to invest in training?

By the way, you said to me a few weeks ago, that a negative customer experience can eventually have a bigger Customer Delight impact then when everything runs as standard, right?

I had one! Last week we invited a -for us- very important guest from Germany for a business meeting. We asked him over a day early for a good dinner so we could start early in the morning. While the meeting was about Customer Delight, we booked him a nice hotel (we thought).

When I picked our guest up from the hotel, our guest described it as ‘special’ rather than ‘nice’, “…but backpackers would love it”, he said to me on the way to our meeting location.

When we arrived, some things went wrong with the meeting room, we were accidentally put in the wrong room and the heating didn’t work properly. All in all our guest was less delighted than we hoped for (although he said that our proposal had warmed him). When I gave this feedback to the location, they responded very firmly: “You tear the bill up.” they said, “It was an important meeting for you and we didn’t deliver up to our standards, so you don’t pay anything.”.

The impact of this is soo much stronger than “we give you a discount of xx% for the inconvenience” or “next time we will make it up”. It is not because of the money, but a very bold statement about their believe in their quality. 

You bet I will plan my next meeting there!

Back on track!

Hi Marieke,

If you are following my tracks for good service examples, you should visit the Starbucks at the A27 in the Netherlands, at Meerkerk. Some years ago Starbucks lost touch with their clients and, in my opinion, became ‘just another coffee shop’ (in the true sense of coffee shop, not the Dutch interpretation). 

The last few visits were different though and today I really felt at home again. Apart from the girl -Marjolein- who took the order in a cheerful way, the Barista made contact by addressing me with my name (the true reason for asking for the name at the cash desk), to ask how my day is. During the conversation he asked if I wanted a clover leaf or a heart in the foam on my coffee. I told him that I was primarily interested in seeing how he did it and so he gave me a mini training coffee-making. I now know that low fat milk doesn’t create as much foam, that the silence between two foaming sessions of the milk is called the ‘paper cut’ and that you have to poor the milk from the middle for the optimum result. The end “Ok Johannes, I wish you a nice day and enjoy the coffee!” was a very pleasant ending.