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. 

The postman always rings

la posteA month ago I ordered sugar-free chocolate on the web. Up to today I had not received anything, and I was about to call the supplier, when the telephone rang. “Hello, this is Philippe from the post office in Chambourcy. I am calling you as we have a package from overseas waiting for you since a long long time. I wanted to send it back, but thought I might just check with you first.” I thanked him and assured that I would come over straight away. He greeted me with : “Hello Mariéky, with the Belgian accent.” With enthusiasm he explained that he had figured that  the telephone number marked on the package, 123456789, was not correct so he had looked it up on the internet.

So much dedication!!

 Cheers, M

Everybody can do it.

train conductor

Here I was still sleeping

He Joe,

I had a simple one the Thalys to Rotterdam recently. I mean WOW experience, of course. 

As I wanted to print my railway ticket, I had to give the name of the passenger (that happened to be me, myself in person). The name and a complicated code show on the ticket when printed. When handing over the paper to the ticket collector,  he said: “Have a nice trip, mrs Marieke van der Laan.”


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…

On the Japanese train

train 2Hi Joh, 

Yes it works if people at frontline have responsibility. I’ve got some examples of standards here. When travelling with the Japanese bullet train to Kyoto, I noticed some very nice service-mindedness. The lady that checked all tickets adressed every person again and again with a polite “please” and “thank you very much” (that happens to be the only Japanese words I speak. You hear them so often, they immediately integrated into my vocabulary). She held a small note book and checked which seats she had already controlled. When at a station new passengers boarded, she would make another round and only asked those for their tickets.  A lady selling drinks and snacks was equally elegant when it came to service. It was filmed by someone, check it out here. 

Train 1

All passengers would sit at the site of Mount Fuji (and it was a beautiful sight!). And finally everybody always sits in direction of drive. That requires that someone at the final station will turn every single bench in the other direction. 


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.

I love spring

Hi Johannes,

springdance1Indeed, personal contact with a customer can create many opportunities to create a relationship and Delight on the way.

Lexus creates relationships without small mistakes…. We were at the Lexus International Gallery in Tokyo last Saturday. They serve visitors with a drink inspired by the season. It was festive, nice and surprising.

The name of this particular drink is “Spring Dance”, as the blossom leaves “dance” with the bubbles. A explanatory sign explains the drink, which adds to passion, another trick to create delight.





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!

Friendliness when flying

Hi Johannes,

lipdub lyonIndeed very clever. European airports are also working on client services. München airport has the same screens. In Paris they are developing Airport Helpers, people that direct and reassure passengers in a friendly way. Clients want to be seen and get personal attention, instead of being passenger 314 that morning. In Lyon they had the same project and made a lipdub, very nice. Check it out on:

Have a nice weekend.


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!

Brainracking service

He Johannes,

We agreed that on this blog we would only talk about positive experiences involving delight. We would only relate the worst service ever, as a joker. Now we are talking airlines again I will use mine: 

My sister in law was for holiday on Cuba, travelling with Air France. When arriving at Havana airport to check in for the flight back, she was informed that two hostesses were on strike and so 100 people had to stay behind. My sister in law and her family were amongst the “lucky ones”.

The next day they could embark. After a couple of hours dinner was served. When taking off the aluminium foil she discovered a chicken leg in a yellowish solid, drilling sauce covering pasta. It was all cold. When calling over the air hostes, her astonishing reply was: “Out of sympathy for our colleagues on strike, we do not heat any food during this flight.” Some travellors seem to have had slight difficulty understanding such fraternality…..  

Maybe the airhostess did understand the impact personnel has on brand image….

To finish with a positive note: this airline (dating from pre-mobile phone era) did understand. I just love it!!

(French-speaking pilot if you listen carefully!).

Cheers M

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!

I am a delighted colleague

He Johannes,

Haha, I am impressed that you kept the box and the receipt for 2 years and still remembered where you had stored them!!! Indeed very bright communication of the Philips employee.

Last Friday I met with a colleague to work on a project. Upon arrival he offered me a bunch of flowers for 3 reasons: happy new year, to help fight Blue Monday (today) and because he appreciated the work I did for the project. I consider it normal to contribute my best to the project. However, I was really very pleased with this sign of appraciation.

For a project on Customer Delight it is important to also create delight internally, meaning help each other to give the best for the customer (or a project). 





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!

Literally “Bonjour”

I’ll take you to Vodaphone, first stop (so you can buy a French sim card).

The other day I was at the local supermarket called Carrefour. At the fruit department I picked mandarins from a huge pile. An employee was peeling mandarins for the clients to taste and filling up the pile. Suddenly, completely out of the blue, he said: “Bonjour Madame” (“Hello Madam“)!!!

Now for our foreign watchers, this is France and here you do not say hello to people, especially not in Carrefour.  People will be frightened and think you want something from them. This gentleman did not want anything, smiled and even pressed the right button on the weighing scale for me. I smiled back, thanked him and said it was friendly of him. I had a nice experience, and so did he. Rather than being an unremarkable person,people noticed him and were friendly in return.



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!

Home is where the heart is…

Hi Johannes,

Next time you come to Paris I will take you to the Nespresso store on the Champs Elysees. The store is a perfect experience store with coffee tasting workshops, touch screens, art and candles with scents of coffee blossem to smell.

In the back is a cafe where service used to be bad, but since some time it is great (who knows, maybe the staff was trained ???). I went with a group of After Sales Advisers of Lexus. As the only woman, I got the menu first and could place the order first. This is very basic politeness; … which you find only seldom in a café in France. The lady that served the drinks, was not the person who had taken the order. However, she knew who had ordered which kind of coffee. Great!  

At the Nespresso website it says: “Coffee is at the heart of all we do. Yet, consumer pleasure is why we do it.” I noticed that :-).



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!

New advice for our clients?

Hi Joe,

Very funny commercial, nothing like any other tv commerical for cars, indeed :-).

I read something interesting the other day:

Historically, a Chinese Medicine doctor was paid to keep their patients healthy. If a patient became sick, the doctor would not be paid until the patient’s health returned.  While health is perceived as a harmonious interaction of the functional entities of the body and the outside world, disease is interpreted as a disharmony in interaction.”

Wouldn’t it be an interesting new criteria to take loyalty, win back and loss of existing customers into acocunt when attributing inventives? Today most inventive schemes are around volume sales and customer satisfaction figures. What do you think, should we develop such a tool?

Cheers M

Best car sales ad ever

Hoi Marieke,

True, St Nicoals is impressive. I am glad that he didn’t take me in his big bag this year back to Spain. That is something else about him: he is able to innovate. In my youth he was the man to be scared off (despite the presents) and to my children he is just the nice man with gifts.

Maybe the fact that he holds a monopoly doesn’t hurt his business either.

When surfing on the net I came across another businessman who understood the delicate matter of creating an emotions within his customer to increase sales. Check this out (pay attention to the creative camera angles). Maybe not the best sales man, at least he tries to be different 😉–w&feature=related