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?



Great news

Hi Joe,

Are you saying that even car maniacs can be delighted by a dealer? But that’s great news! I admit I was somewhat shocked to hear you accept Ruben’s offer. (For the readers at home: someone in our team has car-wash-rituals. Ritual is to plonge the sponge in a first bucket with warm water and car shampoo, then rinse the sponge after every stroke (every stroke) in a second bucket with warm water. Back into the first bucket, washing movement. A 3rd bucket is for cleaning the wheels, outside and inside (it’s normal if this is the first time ever you spent a thought to the inside of your wheels as items that can be washed)). 

Happy you were delighted and now can find your way again, Joe. 

dordrecht compriméIn trainings I cite this same dealer for the breakfast they serve for clients bringing in their car for maintenance.  Instead of a rubber smell (I hate that!), there’s a scent of hot croissants. The challenge is: what to do after 1,5 years when clients expect the fresh juice and warm croissants? How to suprise them again? It’s not easy, Customer Delight. That’s good news too, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it :-). 

Cheers Joe,


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!


Flying in a minivan

Hi Joe,

madrid airprot9 years ago I also flew from Gran Canaria to Paris with a stop -over at Madrid. Our flight was delayed and we were killing time by walking around. From this moment in time, the experience takes an opposite direction from yours. Suddenly the delay was over and the final call was announced. We ran over to the gate where the shuttle bus had already left. However, they arranged for a minivan with a dedicated grim-looking driver to take us to the plane. I got in with my 3 months old baby girl. Before I completely closed the door, the driver sped away with smoking tires and screaming motor. I somehow figured it might be intelligent to put the saffety belt but held my baby in one hand and the other gripped the chair in front of me to prevent from rolling over. We took a 90° turn with 65 km an hour, cut in front of moving aircrafts and raced over the  tarmac. My baby cried with laughter over so much fun while I was completely focussed on surviving. Ieeeepppppp , what a relieve we crashed to a stop at the stairs to the plane. 

The intention of the service (taking us in time to the aircraft) was perfect. The way in which it was performed a bit over the top, in my view. 



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…

My new friends

Hejo Johannes,

I wish you a delightful 2014!!

As it was your birthday recently, my question is: Did you also get the card of Shangri-La? When dealing with hospitality business you won’t hear about “customers” or” clients”. They have “guests” they welcome in their premises. This summer, however, I stayed in Coconut Beach Resort in Vietnam. In the room I found a welcome letter with this text:

coco beach cocoDear Client, Dear Friend, 

Welcome to Coco Beach Resort!

We wish you a pleasant stay in our little corner of paradise and we are at your disposal for any inquiries or requests you may have during your stay.

 This welcome pack includes the following items:

• A Coco Beach postcard
One voucher for a free drink
• And a little bag for your visit to the beach, so that your room key or small valuable items won’t get lost in the sand.

Enjoy your stay with us! 

Kind regards,

Daniel, Jutta and the Coco Beach Crew


When crossing one of the managers in the garden, he wished me a good morning, and also informed if everything was to my liking, if he could do anything for me. When chatting a bit, he explained that the indication of guests as “friends” guides the behaviour of the crew (read: staff).  

I do have to admit that these friends of mine forgot my birthday, but hey, they gave me a present during summer.


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!


What parkings can tell you more….

parking pyramidesThis is a sports club around here. It is big, it is beautiful, it is very expensive and posh. Clientele and management are accordingly. Clearly: a relevant question has been asked: “Who is important around here?”, The answer is obvious: the general manager is!! Important people have the right to have priviliges and park at a convenient spot.

Johannes, we have all this talk about customers and service, but let’s be honest; if he wouldn’t manage the whole thing, the sports club would soon be a mess. Furthermore you agree with me: members come there for sports; to move, to excercise, to work out, after all. So if walking from their car park to the door is already too much of an effort, why come here??? 

It is really very useful for the GM to park right in front, how else can he inform all members that he is driving a fancy black BMW 5 series break with full options?

Members can thus come to the intelligent conclusion themselves: “This person is successful and consequently : important”. Recognition is very important for motivation, this is commonly known. This way the GM will work even better, for the club and for … himself??? 



Cheers Johannes,





More about parking lots

Hi Johannes,

“Safe and clean parking lot” states a welcoming sign at the parking of HaJé restaurant along the highway. 20 meters furtheron they confirm their promise: 

 Haje parking

As I completely had the right profile, I parked my car here, right in fornt of the entrance. When entering the building it said:

 haje entrance





And indeed, many reasons to smile. Cosy decoration/flowershop at the entrance, friendly welcome, nice wintergarden to work, wood fire, good food (both classic and healthy) and, hey, they even sell Love Choc!!! What possibly more can someone want??? 

They have all things right due to systematic satisfaction cards at every table. 

Next time more on parkings. 












And us…

Hé Johannes,

The positive thing is that the first girl thought of clients as people. There are others that see them as wallets with legs! That makes me think of the book of Michelli on Zappos. He explains that there is also delight for suppliers and partners (and thus trainers). The title of this paragraph is: “What? Partners are people too?“. Heartwarming!!!

I did see another place where they consider trainers, at a hotel:

parking trainer 1





Isn’t that thoughtful of them?


Cheers M

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!

Being part of the family

saladeHi Johannes,

The question here is: can you implement a customer-centric culture when your company is listed at the stock exchange???? Will you be able to convince your shareholders? That means chosing a long term approach over a short time strategy??? I feel it is easier for family businesses (even Toyota is!!). 

Talking about family businesses….. In June I had spent two nights in Hotel 2000 and I liked the place. So last week I went again. Upon arrival I got an upgrade to a room with a terrace as the owner remembered I liked sitting outside. He added: “If you want a salad before leaving to work, I can organize one for you.” And so when I ordered a salmon salad at 17h30 it was served within a minute. Very nice, fresh and crispy. (I won’t specify here he welcomed me with “Hello young lady“, you wouldn’t understand :-)). 

Next time in Valkenburg…


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!

My question for the National Dutch Railways…

… is: how exactly do they define the promising concept……… “SERVICE“? 

When arriving today with the international train at Rotterdam station, I wanted to buy a ticket for Utrecht. The ticket vending machines in the hall happened to neither accept a credit card, nor cash. I looked around for a solution and saw the “Service Center”. Happily I walked over and it turned out that:


  • 28 people were in line before me
  • There was nowhere to sit down
  • It took the 3 ladies at the ticket windows 17,5              
         minutes to proceed the 28 clients
  • There was a sur-charge of 50 cents as I did not use
         the machines. 
  • The lady wished me a pleasant day.

What’s your bet?

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!

Craftmanship and Delight

Hi Johannes,

Today I went to the hairdresser, down here at the shopping mall, part of a chain, nothing special, really. People are treated with indifference, pushed through a customer process. 

But…. surprise came, in the person of a tall beautiful black man. No name badge but let’s call him Frank. For sure, Frank was a hair artist.  He didn’t have any attention for me as a person, but was highly interested in this hairdo that urgently needed fixing. Some professional relevant questions ( What would I like, in front behind and on the sides, how often I wash and how I dried it), he walked me over to washing basins and left me alone.   
In the mean time Frank concentrated on aligning two wiped scissors and a comb in a sharp 90 degrees angle. When I was seated, he unlashed all his talents on my “coupe”. Methodically progressing, sometimes with glasses on, sometimes pushing them on top of his head, with varying swinging movements, he cut my hair. Try to think of Mr Bean cutting hair, without being ridiculous. 


I have to say that the whole scene gave me confidence in the outcome (read: was a bit delighted) . I was in  indifferent but capable hands. He then asked if I would like wax ( not gel of course). OK. If I would have any objections against coconut ( smell).  I had not. He than took it as a mission to educate me. 

I did not cut it too short. (This could be easily be subject to discussion) Now, you heat the wax in the palm of your hands like this. Once it is heated up you can apply. You have to imagine a virtual square over your head. Put the wax on the roots of your hair and then move everything in the virtual square. It is very important to know that most of the volume is on the right side of your head, so make this movement…. And then wave it to the front, for a feminine look. Do you have any questions?”

A the till it turned out the hand heated wax was charged 2 € extra. 

You have all you need concerning wax?


Loyalty card maybe?” 

May be not, yet.

Cheers M

Service in Morocco

Hi Joe,

Funny, somehow, that “lip service” has a negative connotation. Normally words with lips are positive, think of lip stick. 

Anyway, I was in Morocco last week and had several nice experiences. At a pharmacy I saw the following note, very welcoming. Funny that they see us as a guest!!

pharamacy fes

We had rented a house in the old medina and a young man takes care of the house and of course of the guests. He came around every morning and every afternoon to see if we would need something, if he could do something for us. When talking to him and a possibility to return with a bigger group of friends, he said: “Yes, you should do that, your brother (himself) will welcome you all here.” Interesting to hear how he positions himself. A brother takes very good care of his family. 


restaurant fesIn restaurant Le Patio Blue, in the medina I had used the toilet. I climbed the stairs up to the roof terrace where my family was seated at a table, while someone walked very very closely behind me. Once on the terrace he said, “Excuse me” and slipped in front of me, grabbed a napkin somewhere and held it out to me. He had noticed I had not dried my hands! 

Service all around in Fez in Morocco. 


Cheers, M


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!

Chocolate for Everybody

Hi Joe,

Dark chocolate with whole almonds is a shortcut to delight!! (Am not saying I am delight). Scientific reserach hasproven that chemicals inside chocolate stimulate pleasure centers in the brain. (In the same article they call people like me chocodicts)  In the delicate matter of creating delight, we can thus safely advice our clients: distribute choclate. To every body. At every occasion. 

In fact, at Lexus Spain they offer a chocolate when presenting the bill.

So I order it around the place on the web. Our Japanese contact suggested La Red, so I tried. At the site, they promise to deliver within a week. It took a little bit more than a week and look at what I received with “The Chocolate Post”:

la red chcolate

Translation: “Excuse us for the delay. “

They offered me 5 bars on top of that. One of each taste for me to try. So I’m a fan :-). And you bet I already ordered the next lot. I’ll let you taste next time!