Man as a success factor in the digital transformation

How do you make the digital transformations in companies succeed?

What are the best practices and challenges when it comes to digital customer contact?

What can we learn from each other when it comes to the Digital Customer Experience?

Three questions that were central to the Digital Customer Experience Event 21 May in Kanaal30. The 141st day of 2019. With over 120 participants and a beautiful line up, these questions were also answered concretely. As chairman and closing speaker I share my insights and my most important take aways. This blog is divided into two chapters. The first is a report of the day per speaker. In the second chapter I summarise my own insights. So, or read on and get a short report of each speaker or skip to chapter 2 and read the overarching insights. Handy, right?!

Chapter 1 - Customer19: brief reports from the speakers

The programme was nicely put together with as starting speaker the only professor of Customer Experience in the Netherlands; Mirella Kleijnen. She compared Customer Experience Management with playing a classical concert, with important roles for the conductor (CEO), Musicians (people with customer contact), Instruments (everything needed to do customer contact well, from telephony, website, to processes), Concerthal (the environment where customer contact takes place) and the Public (the customers). Her most important point for me, was to make a service blueprint. Because how do you get sound from a cacophony, now that beautiful symphony? You really have to write it down, work it out. Both above the line, as well as below the line to back office processes. So not just a customer journey map, but much deeper and more aligned with what happens behind the scenes.

Chantal Verburg, head of content marketing at, spoke very passionately about how had taken up Programmatic Marketing. I had just ordered a book from them myself, which I had already clicked a few times on the website. Now I also understand how they approached this at and how they got there. Three important factors; working multidisciplinary, getting all the data (and they have helll veulll) together and learning to work. She told the honest story about how tries to bring the right message at the right time to me as a customer. An instructive look in the kitchen of the Marketing Company of the year.


What Customer Experience is often about. How do you prove success, what is your ROI? Which KPI's do you use, how do you report and how do you use all that data from customers and processes you have? Theo van der Steen, founder of Underlined, showed the model what Underlined uses. A beautiful house of data, in which people systematically investigate the drivers and success factors to get the CXI (Customer eXperience Index) moving. Where Meeting Needs, Easy and Enjoyable are the three most important ingredients (CX pyramid of Forrester). He shared cases of ABN Amro and Interpolis, among others, in which Underlined customer data projects had been carried out. Extremely interesting.


As an old KPN employee, I was really looking forward to the story of Mark van der Vlies, director customer interaction @Data&Analytics. Of course because I still have a green heart, but also because he and his team had won the DDMA Data award of 2019. The success of his data and campaign was in developing - in an automated way - giving customers the most relevant message at the right time. This gave a huge boost to sales, with up to 60 percent more cross-sell and 6 percent more customer retention. Where KPN exploited the potential of the manned channels. So employees on the phone and in the store, actually helping from data and suggestions, to help customers better and sell more. Smart! Also nice to see the difference between and KPN. Where put more effort into the digital channels in this case, KPN uses the manned channels, but of course with digital means.

Lunch without dip

As I am writing a chronological report, I will skip lunch, although I will mention that the mushroom soup from Kanaal30 was delicious. So there was no lunch dip, because after lunch all the participants went on a Boot Camp. Either a Design Thinkers bootcamp led by Tim Schuurman of Design Thinkers Academy or a Data Driven Customer Experience Management bootcamp, by Theo van der Steen, Tamara Mom and Jolien Nelemans (both Volksbank). During both bootcamps, everyone got to work with Canvases in a very practical way. The first one more from design thinking methods, researching, the second one more with data and proving. Cool to see how practical you can make Customer Experience!


The case that Mijke van Ballegooijen, director Customer Experience KLM, told was how KLM designed a new Customer Journey. So what does the KLM journey of the future (and that future is not so far away) look like, using digital and more off-line channels. She already told us how we would experience it as a traveller, including emotion and wow moments. The exciting thing about future perspectives is that they haven't been realized yet, but I'm already looking forward to that KLM journey of the future, already a frequent KLM passenger. She explained three touchpoints, such as queue management in the lounges and what issues this raises in daily practice. Because you can still design it so nicely, use i-pads, ask customers for their mobile number and interactive maps. Both employees and KLM passengers have to get used to this. What I also remember is the X-gate and the X-plane. These are the places KLM uses to actually test in practice with user designers and learn how customers and colleagues react to innovations.


The last Use Case was that of VGZ. Frank Elion, Chief Client Officer, talked about the big change that this care provider is currently going through. Almost everyone in the audience knew VGZ or one of its brand partners, which in itself is a great achievement in terms of brand awareness. VGZ had a number of major challenges such as too high a churn, market forces and too long a time to market. Clear goals were set, an NPS >25 in 2021 and almost halving the call ratio. Just a short turnaround, happier customers and lower costs. Who doesn't want that? By working in an Agile way, and not a little bit, but really by a rigorous organization change and focus on the customer, the change at VGZ was initiated. It was a pleasure to listen to Frank and hear him explain as a member of an Executive Committee tNPS. With, of course, the growth in this. Too much fun!

A.C.E. strategy

To conclude, I took the stage myself, explaining my A.C.E. strategy behind customer experience by means of a self-experienced customer journey at Emirates. Because how do you deliver Authentic (A.) customer experiences, those experiences that really fit your brand. How can you deliver that Consistent (C.) to customers over and over again, with Mirella Kleijnen's Service Blue Print being a wonderful tool. And this together with Enthusiastic employees (E.) every day to deliver to customers. This A.C.E. strategy is at the core of how you systematize customer experience, where you listen carefully to customers what they think of you, what Customer Experiences they expect and how you always respond when they give feedback (thus 'close your loop'). Our role in Customer Experience is to orchestrate authentic experiences, consistently delivered by all employees. Gaby Laudy, Manager Customer Experience Rijksmuseum, shared how she connects with her colleagues who work in the museum on a daily basis and learns how things work in practice. She has ordered a suit, and then stands next to the Night Watch as a colleague security guard, or helps with ticket sales or in the reception areas. In this way she knows what is going on, what museum visitors experience and keeps in touch. That's great!

Of course, we closed the conference with a drink. Nothing digital, just glass. Talking to the different participants is always fun and together we came to the same conclusion.

Chapter 2 - Customer19: The Clue

All cases described the steps on the path of digital transformation. Successes, learning points and perhaps the real hurdles to be taken. All speakers agreed that this really is the human hurdle.

That the co-inventor is at the cradle of the success of the digital transformation. At by working with multidisciplinary teams with data and solutions, at KPN by looking very closely at what employees need and how they are going to use the applications properly, at KLM how the employees use those handy ipads. Often stories, especially during drinks, about companies that give employees much more autonomy. Not just wanting to give, but actually giving. But how are employees supposed to do that when they've mainly been given work instructions in previous years? Which said exactly how and what. And now they 'suddenly' have to do it themselves?

My suggestion: include enough budget in your digital transformation plan for the culture element. To develop together, to tell the story behind the change, by pretending, training, to learn together and of course to celebrate together if it is a success. Because what I learned above all, is that it can be done. That digital transformation. Thank you all very much for a top conference.


** Nienke Bloem is an expert in Customer Experience (CCXP), both as lecturer of a two day CX Masterclass to prepare for your CCXP exam, as Keynote Speaker and co-founder of the customer experience game. Don't want to miss any more blogs? Sign up for her monthly CX Greetz. **

** Feel free to comment on this blog and share it in your community! **


Thank you list for Customer 19: Leonoor ten Have, Willemijn Herfkens, Harrie van de techniek, people of Kanaal30, Mirella Kleijnen, Chantal Verburg, Theo van der Steen, Mark van der Vlies, Tim Schuurman and colleagues, Tamara Mom, Jolien Nelemans, Mijke van Ballegooijen and Frank Elion.