When I hear the title of this movie, what comes to my mind, is Clint Eastwood on a horse and the great title song with the whistle in it. A real spaghetti western which was taped long before I was even born. But I love the movie, the plot and of course the title. It is the silly season in the Netherlands. Summer holidays, and there is not much news going on, and the good thing is that many people enjoy some well-deserved time off. To recharge, to enjoy quality time with their family and to enjoy themselves basically. I hope you too or maybe you have already returned back to the office. This holiday I decided to rethink my customer experiences in the past. When looking back, what are the THREE customer experiences that I really remember, that stand out? Whether they were good, bad or ugly.

We have so many customer experiences. Actually, we have them every day. Same goes for me. Working on my laptop, browsing the web, doing groceries, having lunch at a restaurant, calling my provider, booking a ticket, I could go on and on and on. But what are the ones that really stand out, positive or negative?! In this blog my summary of the top 3 Good, Bad and Ugly since the moment I became an entrepreneur (January first, 2015) and the emotions that go with it. And I must be honest, I am not the one that is too fond on sharing the bad and ugly ones, because of the great impact I might have with my exposure. But let’s be honest, it is my duty as a customer experience pro and speaker to tell it as it is. So here they are.

The Good

Still my very best customer experience is my flight to Adelaide with Emirates. Of course, I relive it a lot, because I share the magic in my keynote ‘Great customer experiences don’t happen by accident’. But everything about it was perfect. I loved the digital information on the website, the ease of booking, the pre-flight information, the picking up by a limo to bring me to the airport, the stop over and the lounge in Dubai, the upgrade to first class, the service on the plane, the photo they made with a polaroid, the coming home, the survey I filled out and… the way they reacted on the survey. They reacted on the survey. Yes, that is what I am writing. One of the few companies that reacted on a survey I filled out. What a brilliant Customer Experience. I still remember the names of two flight attendants. Miriam and Gigi. That is what happens when customer experiences are great. I loved everything about this experience, it inspired me and it sparked joy. A lot of joy. If you want to read more, see some pictures, read my blog I wrote on it.

The Bad

This was a difficult one to pick, because I had so many bad experiences. But for the worst of them all, we have to go back three years, when I ordered a book through Amazon. That was not the issue, but the issue was that I needed it fast. So, I chose for express delivery and I would receive it in two days. I received a text message indicating at what time the package would arrive. Of course, I waited at home. You probably guess what happened. No package. So, I called and they couldn’t trace the package. From that moment I entered Purgatory, the place close to hell. Yes, that rimes to DHL, which is the company I am talking about. They promised to deliver the book three times, never came at the moment they promised, their social service on Twitter was messy, to say the least. They even explained to me their whole process in direct messages (like I care, just deliver the book) and after four days the package arrived. I had spent over three hours on the phone, no chat, but Twitter, and the crazy thing was, once I finally had the book, I still received texts to tell me when the book would be delivered. I still fume when I think about it, kind of shocked. I have learned their internal processes, their internal business lines and many people that hide behind all of the above. Brrr. The book I ordered was good though: “Must win battles” by J. Killing, Thomas Malnight and Tracey Key.

The Ugly

Well, this is where it gets really messy. The first time in my life that I had to go to court when it comes to my own customer experience. I watch customer rights programs always with an ambiguous feeling. First of all, a feisty powerful feeling that I admire the consumers that bring their issues to these programs. But secondly a nauseous feeling, one of disgust that businesses don’t help their customers and that these customers have to bring it to a tv studio to get what is rightfully theirs. I just can’t understand businesses, that won’t help customers. PERIOD. But they do exist. Listen to my story and NO, I didn’t go on national tv with it.  In 2015 I bought a car at Avi Automakelaardij, and I loved the car in an instant. But after a month I had the first issues and my local car mechanic found out that the mileage had been reversed. I contacted the car broker I bought the car from, right away. Because in Dutch law it is the obligation of the car trader to check the mileage and as a consumer, I could annul the sale, which I did. He didn’t want to help me in any way. My car got more failures, even had a motor issue in the end (no driving any more). Still the car dealer didn’t help out. So, I had to get to court to get my right. It was an awful phase in my life (what was I doing in court?!) and I still cannot believe the business owner went as far as to court, instead of helping me out. Yes, he lost the case, had to pay all costs. But no sorry, no excuse. Thinking back of it, I still feel sadness, anger and most of all the frustration of the process.

What is incredible and good to bear in mind? That is that both the Bad and the Ugly happened in 2016. THREE years ago. I even wrote about them in a blog. As I have written them down now, they are what comes to mind. They are the memory of the customer experience. It is not at all factual, but colored with emotions. Like what happens in CX. What feels good, can feel even better after months or years. And what felt awful, bad or ugly, could still feel frustrating now. While writing this, I went to have a look at Plutchik’s wheel of emotion. I learned about this for the first time in the course Learn-to-Customer-Journey-Map-in-One-Day by Conexperience and I have used it a lot since. Because it helps to color in emotions even more. In this wheel, you find many emotions. Not just the happy or sad ones, but all their varieties. Good to use while journey mapping, but also for the next step in this blog.

What I would like you to do is think of your Good, Bad and Ugly customer experiences and find the two emotions per experience. For the wheel, click here. Take ten minutes, write down the Good, Bad and Ugly, as well as your emotions. This is good for you and your own business. What kind of emotions did you experience? Do you know that you might be giving these experiences to your customers and the emotions that come with them? And most important, how did you deal with your emotions? Know your customers have to deal with their emotions too and might lash out on contact center agents or store employees. A good exercise of emotions to walk in your own shoes as a customer and to get out of the traditional business context. Of course, feel free to share your stories and experiences with me in the comments. Let’s learn and grow together. And for now, I am whistling the soundtrack of the Good, the Bad and they Ugly for you. Happy and hopeful greetz from the Netherlands.


** Nienke Bloem is an expert in Customer Experience (CCXP), both as Keynote Speaker, teacher of the 2 day CX Masterclass to prepare you for the CCXP exam and she is co-founder of the customer experience game. Do you want to read her blogs or learn more about her? Visit her website or subscribe to her monthly CX Greetz. **


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

… why you are getting it all wrong when it comes to the visual revolution

We are in the age of the visual revolution. Sorry? What? Yes, visuals are the bomb. Not just a little bit, but all over the place. Where Instagram is growing like crazy, YouTube is the second largest search engine and even LinkedIn is growing when it comes to images and video.

A real big chance for everybody. Not only telling how good your products and services are, but also showing it with images. Because images speak louder than words; right?

Let’s dive a little deeper where it tends to get ugly when it comes to visuals.

Let’s go on a cruise

This April I went on a cruise. In 2016 we cruised with Carnival Cruises, which was a big eye opener and fun and brilliant customer experience (on which I blogged). So in 2019 we wanted to push it a little, go on a longer cruise and see more islands. We changed to Celebrity Cruises, because their ships were newer, the destinations fitted and the whole look and feel of the website, matched with what I was longing for.

This is where it all went wrong. Please take a look on their website: I am curious what you see and what impression you get? Well I got the impression of modern luxury (which is also what they promise, as one of the guest relations officers told me) and the website shows guests like me.

The Stereotype Exercise

Now, let’s do a small exercise that I learned at Disney Institute. The Stereotype exercise. When you think of cruising and the typical customer. What things come to mind? Before I type any further, you could pick up pen and paper, but you can also keep reading. I will join you in your mind.

When I stereotype cruising and their guests, I think of an older population, a little grey-haired to be honest. Pensioners, who love jewelry and play bridge. They are grandparents, children moved out of the home. Who want to experience luxury and comfort and want to dine with captain Stubing (little joke).

Our experience in 2016 was really different. Carnival is known for their fun and they attract a young crowd. That is also what their website shows when it comes to visuals. Now let’s switch back to Celebrity. When I glance at their visuals on the website or their Instagram, I see people like me. Young, okay, this is debatable 😉, but between 40 and 55. Young, right?! A young crowd who enjoys life, who likes to explore and have new adventures. This is what they market, this is what they sell on their website.

Different expectations

So imagine entering the boarding area in Fort Lauderdale, where the first impression was… An old peoples home. The stereotype we just imagined. Yes, we saw canes, walking racks and wheelchairs. That is not any issue, but I booked this holiday with a different expectation. Praise the lord there were younger people aboard, but they were scarce. And that was a real pity for my daughter of twenty, who I brought along. Yes, we had a great holiday, but thinking back of the Carnival Cruise and the fun we had with most of the guests; I wish we booked with them.

During the cruise, we shared tables with many people and for example had a chat with a couple (in their 70s) who were on their tenth cruise with Celebrity. Yes, they admitted Celebrity is known for a little older crowd. That is what they liked and why they came back. Again and again. And we had many more chats like that.


The fourth day of the cruise, I decided to have a conversation with guest relations. Because it somehow itched that the cruise was marketed in a way, which wasn’t delivered. I explained my disappointment and the lady behind the desk spoke these words “Yes, we have an older population on board. If you would have liked a younger cruise, you should have booked Royal Caribbean.” What?! Really?!

While I am writing this, I feel the same emotions again. Those of frustration and disappointment. You sell me a cruise with a certain expectation, I book online, I have to let you know who I travel with (a twenty-year-old), you give no advice and then a little twat behind the desk tells me this. My oh my.

Where did it go wrong from an organizational customer experience point of view?

Honor your clients

I think the marketeers of Celebrity Cruises are all pretty young and hip. Chances are they hire other hip website builders, travelers and influencers to create visuals and tell stories. Probably the board wants to rejuvenate their passengers. Marketing most certainly works with personas, but I don’t think the older traveler is in there. They aim for young, as shows their website and Instagram.

Now comes the truth and nothing but the truth. Be happy with your clients. Give them the credits they deserve. Because these older guests are filling your pockets. Make sure you show reality in your visuals. Not just polishing it up with models and stock photo’s you use now. Show your real customers in your visuals. Give them the place they deserve on your website, Instagram and Facebook.

Because what happened with me, is not an N=1 (just one traveler) situation. We had a conversation with over ten other young guests, and they had the same experience as we had. They were also not coming back on Celebrity. At least not in the next twenty years 😉, as at that age we fit their age group in a better way.

My dear marketeers, when you show pictures that are too far from the truth, you are the reason why customers get disappointed. Guest relations can’t fix it down the line. They can only fix it with some extra’s, but you are two steps behind.

Be real

Does this only happen in the travel industry? NO. This is the hard truth in many areas of visual marketing. For example, have a look at websites of golf courses. The pictures are beautiful. The sun is rising. Greens look so green. Bunkers are all raked meticulously. And the most surprising thing; almost never do you see any people golfing. It could be a very young and slim couple, but most often these golf courses are photographed at moments of total ‘nobodyness’.

Reality is different. Most golf courses host many flights of golfers. There are PEOPLE on a golf course. Not models, but people like me, my mom and dad. Normal people.

Of course, you want to look your best on a website. You want to show things on a sunny day. Literally and metaphorically. But don’t overdo it. Make sure it looks great, but also real. Because if you don’t: reality will hit and create disappointment down the line.

So, my plea is: do the reality check. Take a look at your website and other social channels where you use visuals like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Are you telling the truth, or should you take it down a notch? Me and my fellow customers would appreciate the real story. Thank you.


Don’t want to miss any of my blogs? Then subscribe to my monthly CX Greetz!

… or should I say, Employee Experience? Yes, I have been wondering what the title of this blog should be and I chose the one on Customer Experience. Just because I had to choose. If you think after reading this blog, it should be the other way around. Let me know!

The 22ndof January 2019. A big day: I was going to visit Zappos. I was excited, because I had heard so much about the company,  I follow them on Instagram (@ZapposCulture) and of course read the book “Delivering Happiness”. This day I was going to see it myself. Would it be a big hit or would it be a disappointment? I had no idea, so the excitement was real.

The first impression of the building was a little bit of a downer. The building isn’t a beauty of a building, it used to be the city hall of Las Vegas. It is a building like any other and they have tried to make it look happy, with some pictures, but I am honest, the building and the square didn’t deliver any happiness to me.

A little side step: I arrived in Las Vegas two days before and I had plenty time to stroll around the city. If you ever visited the city or have seen some pictures, you know that especially the strip is kind of a crazy place. A miniature Eiffel tower, Venetian gondola’s; everything for entertainment. My hotel was on the strip and I brought some crackers and as I am trying to eat healthy, I was looking for an avocado to spread on my cracker. As I walked the strip for more than two hours, there was not avocado to be found. Yes, I could gamble, drink, eat, buy souvenirs, but no avocado there.

Let’s go back to the Zappos experience. When you enter the building, you are pleasantly surprised. The colored Lego wall, the merchandise, the wall with the company’s story; the whole atmosphere is breathing the FUN Zappos feeling. Want to have an impression?

Megan was my tour guide and we started with the history of the company. A company pride movie, some examples of wow employee experiences, like the “snowman prank” and the CEO living in a trailer. It was a set up of the real tour, where they gave me the Zappos experience. We couldn’t visit the customer service department, but I saw HR, the way the company is set up, their fitness studio (in the former prison), their restaurant and their Aquarium resting area. Really!

When we passed the square during our tour. I saw at the main square a drawing of an Avocado, saying “AvocaDO”. I giggled and told Megan, that Las Vegas was more of an AvocaNO city. I shared my experience of the hunt for an avocado and we laughed together.

As my tour ended, I had two interviews with leaders of the company. To learn more about Customer Experience strategies, about listening to customers, about how it is to work in the company. As I was starting my first interview, Megan entered the room with a little bag with two avocado’s. “For you”, as she presented them with a big smile. How about that? Putting the magic around one of their values: “Deliver WOW through service”. Easy does it with a big result. Zappos does deliver WOW.

So, a nice story, and Zappos puts its money where its mouth is. So you have a first impression. But what did I learn and what can you learn from this shoe selling company? I decided to give you a list of ideas. You can pick yourself, what is applicable. What resonates with you. And I am honest. The longer I write, the more comes to mind. So be prepared, somewhere this year, I will publish blog number two about this topic 😉

  1. Choose your values: Zappos has their ten core values and they are everywhere. Where of course their most known value is “Deliver Wow through Service”. The other nine are just as important for the employees.
  2. Hire the right employees: “It is easier to get into Harvard, than to work at Zappos” Zappos receives thousands of job applications every half year. They only want the right people to work for them. The ones that fit the company, the ones that are motivated.
  3. Take time for onboarding: new employees get a four-week onboarding and training, where they work for three weeks in the contact center. Yes, everybody. Whether you start working in IT or in Accountancy: you will start in the contact center, so you know your customers and what their lifes are about.
  4. Test if new employees get it: once a new employee has done his onboarding, at Zappos that is the moment they have to go for THE test. This test is crucial, because if you don’t score 90%, you don’t pass and are asked to leave. The test is about culture and values, computer systems and how to behave on the phone.
  5. Make new employees choose: when employees have finished their onboarding, they get the offer of a month’s salary to leave the company. Yes, you read this right. If you stay, you don’t get it. They only want people that really want to work for Zappos.
  6. 10 hour rule in the holiday season. Everybody has to help the contact center for ten hours. Everybody. EVERYBODY. Sorry to that bold, but this is magic. It is already magic when colleagues from IT would listen in some companies, Zappos takes it to the next level.
  7. Honor employees and the years they work for you: every five years you work at Zappos, you get a plate with your name on it in a certain color. First five years is blue, five to ten is red, etcetera. These nameplates hang at the desks, so you can see who works there and for how long they are with Zappos.
  8. Serendipitous Collisions: the Zappos building has ten floors and on one floor, there are drinks, on the other floor there are snacks. So people have to move to get a drink or something to eat. By doing so, they will meet people from other departments, and they hang out together.
  9. Create business money. Zappos has their own monetary system; Zollars. Yes, where dollars and Zappos meet. You can earn Zollars in several ways and spend them in their own Zappos way.
  10. Zappos Merchandise: not only can you buy Zappos merchandise as visitor, they also have their own little Zappos store for employees, varying from a t-shirt to a bicycle. Zappos branded of course: here you can spend your earned Zollars.
  11. Co-working Bonus program: employees can grant colleagues a bonus of 50 Zollars for doing nice things for each other, or if they helped out customers in a brilliant way.
  12. Department of Celebration: in case there is something to celebrate, from birthday to wedding. At Zappos they have a catalogue where you can order everything you need to celebrate. For example, you can order balloons with a card and they are delivered to the desk of the person who is celebrating.
  13. Bring fun in the IVR: when you call Zappos you get the choice to either press one to talk to a representant or two to hear the joke of the day. My goodness, I love this one.
  14. Organize fitness: at Zappos they have their own fitness studio (in the former prison, so funny) and they have also yoga and boxing classes. You earn points that you can spend in a special Zfit store.
  15. Tech Support: in the cafeteria Zappos has a special desk for technical help. You can bring your laptop there and they make sure you are on your way as soon as possible.
  16. Bring values in yearly reviews: as an employee you are asked how you score on the core values and also peers will rate you. You can pick the core values that fit you best, because you don’t have to score all ten.
  17. Stimulate change: at Zappos they have investors that help employees who have ideas in an investor board. So these investors help employees with money to grow their ideas.
  18. Help employees as entrepreneurs: at Zappos they have a class called ‘48 Hour Founders’. People can pitch (like in Sharktank) to a group and when your idea is picked, you work it out with colleagues and a business coach. In 48 hours you will grow your idea forward and pitch to the Investor Board.
  19. Teambuilding: every month employees get a budget of 50 dollars to go out and have fun. Plan it yourself and create a team and a family feeling. You can also save it a couple of months, to do something more elaborate.
  20. Family time: every quarter of a year a family movie night is organized for employees and their families. So, the focus is not only on the employees, but their families are engaged too.
  21. Measure because than you know: HR measures every quarter of a year how employees are feeling and to learn what they can do better. The insights are shared with everybody by company email. And a follow up by HR on the actions is always done.
  22. Shadowing: if an employee is curious about another role in the company, they can shadow a colleague in that role for two days, to learn what the job is about. During my tour, a colleague of the Customer Service department shadowed Megan to learn about being a tour guide.
  23. Continuous focus on customer interaction: everyone at Zappos understands that every interaction counts. That means that the focus is almost mindfully at the customer in that moment. No average call handling times or other internal metrics that can harm the connection.
  24. Quality assurance: Zappos has a dedicated team that listens to live calls to learn and give advice and suggestions to agents. The focus is on learning, improving and customer happiness.
  25. Values and the floors: where they have ten floors and ten values. They dedicated one value to every floor. This is visible and just a touch of connection.
  26. Focus on making it effortless: the managers or leads are focused on making living the core values as effortless as possible. Employees should be able to deliver on these as easy as possible.
  27. Create photo opportunities on your premises: as we are in the Instagram Era and people love taking pictures. Help them and create beautiful spots for photos. I love this place at Zappos where they have painted unicorn wings.

This is my special gift, just for YOU! I decided to create an e-zine about the biggest learnings. Know that Zappos focuses on Employee Experience to grow Customer Experience. Interesting! Download this visually attractive e-zine and pick yourself: what learnings are most applicable for your organization? What resonates with you? I am very curious which lessons inspire you most. Please feel free to send me an email with your insights!


** Nienke Bloem is an expert in Customer Experience (CCXP), both as Keynote Speaker, teacher of the 2 day CX Masterclass to prepare you for the CCXP exam and she is co-founder of The Customer Experience Game and The Employee Experience Game.**

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

Don’t want to miss any of my blogs? Then subscribe to my monthly CX Greetz!

De ober van het restaurant zet de schaal sushi neer en schenkt me nogmaals zijn brede glimlach. “Wat is jouw favoriete nummer van George Michael?” vraag ik hem. Daar hoeft hij niet lang over na te denken. En hij antwoordt dat hij stiekem een grotere fan van Engelbert Humperdinck is. Maar dat George Michael de favoriet van zijn moeder is en hij daarom deze artiest op zijn naambordje heeft gezet.

In het All Inclusive HardRock hotel in Mexico, waar ik verblijf voor een gave spreekopdracht, draagt al het personeel een naambordje. Iets wat ik vorig jaar in Disney ook zag in het hotel, waar collega’s naast hun naam hun passie hadden staan. Wat varieerde van Russisch, tot honden tot jazzmuziek.  In dit hotel in Mexico staat er onder de naam van het personeelslid, de favoriete artiest. Dit past perfect bij het thema van het hotel en het zet heel laagdrempelig de deur open voor een praatje.

Orlyss, zo heet de ober, kwettert vrolijk door over Engelbert Humperdinck, zijn moeder en de link naar George Michael. Als ik heel eerlijk ben, ken ik helemaal geen muziek van zijn grote held Engelbert en dat geef ik dan ook eerlijk toe. Snel schakelt hij door, want je mag de gast niet in verlegenheid brengen, en vraagt naar mijn favoriete muziek. Het is maar goed dat ik niet in dit hotel werk, want ik ben niet fan van één artiest of band. Ik denk nog eens goed na, hij wijst me er met een knipoog op, dat ik wat bozig kijk als ik nadenk en hij barst weer in schaterlachen uit. “Bruce Springsteen” zeg ik snel.

Wat een geschenk deze ober. Natuurlijk heeft hij een goed humeur, weet hij precies hoe hij moet serveren en kent hij het menu uit zijn hoofd. Hij is een Pro. Maar zijn werkgever heeft het hem makkelijk gemaakt om die connectie te maken. Door dat naambordje met zijn favoriete artiest. Het maakt het voor mij zo makkelijk om dat praatje aan te gaan, verbinding te maken en zo een nog leuker verblijf te hebben. Nu ik er nog eens goed over nadenk, weet ik niet of ik anders in gesprek zou zijn gegaan. Gewoon na mijn sushi, dank-je-wel zou hebben gezegd en hem een kleine fooi zou hebben gegeven.

Maar vanavond niet. Orlyss krijgt een vette tip. De tip die ik jou geef en alle bedrijven in Nederland: maak het je personeel makkelijk met dat naambordje en zet het ‘iets’ eronder. Favoriet dier in de dierenwinkel, beauty vlogger in de parfumerie of favoriete auto bij de dealer. Het is een echte gespreksopener. Het werkt bij Disney, HardRock en vast ook bij jou!


Dit blog werd geschreven voor CustomerFirst en gepubliceerd op 28 november 2018

Geen blog meer missen? Schrijf je in voor mijn maandelijkse CX Greetz!

There is so much going on when it comes to customer experience. I see brilliant initiatives, professionals, strategies, projects and transformations going on at my clients and I read all your stories on LinkedIn. It makes me smile and as a CX colleague, it makes me proud. We are all on our way to deliver great customer experiences to our clients, or have the urge to do so in a better way. In contact centers, social media teams, HR, employee experience and of course customer experience teams.

Did you know that you can get international recognition for what you are doing? I think you should try and win an International Customer Experience Award!

Why enter the awards? I give you 9 reasons why you have to give it a GO

Your entry:

1. You reflect on what is your success and your strategy behind it

2. You really get to the point and feel your pride on your journey

On the day itself:

3. You get to present your success strategy in front of international CX professionals

4. You battle with peers and learn from their entries

After the awards:

5. You get a huge applause from your peers if you win

6. Get international recognition for all your efforts and CX brilliance

7. As a winner: share the pride within your organization and celebrate success

8. As a winner: use it in your marketing that you excel in your category

9. Get a benchmark feedback report how the judges ranked you (BONUS)

You see, there are so many reasons and maybe you can even add some mor… Even if you don’t win, you’ll experience a fantastic event and you’ll learn a lot from your peers of course!

With all the categories you can win (19 in total), there must be a category for you, your department or your company. First I thought I didn’t have to list them, but I have talked about it with many of you and the categories are not known enough for the first edition of the International CX. SO here we go:

All 19 categories in which you can WIN an award

  1. Customer-Centric Culture – That is sustained across the entire organisation with all employees, systems, processes and that puts the customer at the heart of everything that is done
  2. Best Customer Experience Strategy – A customer experience strategy that demonstrated a tangible shift in direction and that lead to positive business results
  3. Business Change or Transformation – A Significant Customer Experience focus that led to sustainable change or transformation of the organization
  4. Customer Insight & Feedback – An active programme to listen to customers (multi-channel), to create feedback opportunities, & effectively use customer insights to make high impact changes to products, services, processes and the overall customer experience
  5. Customer Complaints – focuses on how businesses manage consumer complaints
  6. Best Measurement in Customer Experience – That demonstrates the use of key CX metrics to bring a greater customer focus to tracking, analysing and effectively measuring initiatives
  7. Best Multi/Omni-Channel Customer Experience – A customer focus on delivering a consistent and persistent customer experience across all channels when interacting with your company
  8. Most Effective Customer Experience in Social Media – Demonstrate the effective use of individual or mixed social media channels to build active relationships that fully engage customers – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+
  9. Contact Centre – A contact center transformation project demonstrating great customer experience and making it easier for customers to do business with you
  10. Client Relationship Management – Designed and implemented new and effective techniques to enhance the customer experience through better customer relationship management (CRM)
  11. Best Use of Mobile – Using phone, tablet and other mobility devices to deliver an exceptional customer experience
  12. Digital Transformation – The profound transformation of business and organizational activities. A focus on processes, competencies and models to significantly enhance customer and employee experiences that fully use changes and opportunities available in a mix of digital technologies
  13. Best Digital Strategy – That implemented an effective digital strategy that lead to positive customer engagement and improved business results
  14. Diversity & inclusion – That has diversity and inclusion at the heart of its business, providing outstanding support and opportunities to everyone equally
  15. Employer of the Year – Engaged and highly Motivated Employees, High Staff Retention Rates, Human Resource Initiatives, Personnel Development Initiatives
  16. Employee Empowerment – A Strategy designed to enhance the employee experience, demonstrate corporate wellbeing and linking employee engagement and empowerment to the heart of the business
  17. Customer Experience Professional – Who has identified & responded to an opportunity resulting in influencing the organization to shift and significantly impact the overall customer experience
  18. Customer Experience Team – A team that has identified & responded to an opportunity resulting in significant impact on customer experience and the organization
  19. Customer Experience Leadership – A leader whose influence, communication, passion and focus has significantly impacted the adoption of a more customer focused culture and transformation empowering their organization or community

I really hope I have motivated you to GO for it. To aim high and imagine yourself the 15th of November on stage in Amsterdam, winning an International Customer Experience Award. Click here for more info on the awards and how to enter. Or if you have questions, please leave them as a comment and I will answer them. Hope to meet you in November!


** Nienke Bloem is expert in Customer Experience (CCXP), both as Trusted Advisor, Keynote Speaker and co-founder of the customer experience game. Do you want to read her blogs or learn more about her? Visit her website or subscribe to her monthly CX Greetz. **

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

“Goedemorgen mevrouw, heeft u zin om met ons naar Nederland te vliegen?” Een grote glimlach op zijn gezicht verraadt dat hij er lol in heeft. Zijn vrouwelijke collega achter hem, kijkt met een strak gezicht naar een punt ergens 20 centimeter boven mijn hoofd en negeert mijn ‘Goedemorgen deze morgen’. Terwijl ik mijn stoel – 2F – opzoek, zie ik een derde stewardess die vooral druk bezig is met het organiseren van bagage. Want daar hebben wij als reizigers weinig kaas van gegeten, zegt haar gezichtsuitdrukking.

Voor het opstijgen krijgen we de uitleg over de veiligheidsprocedure. Glimlachend zie ik de blije eikel twee rijen voor me. Hij voert zijn routine uit, met veel energie en oogcontact met de verschillende passagiers. Van veiligheidsgordel tot zwemvest, hem krijgen ze vandaag niet uit zijn goede humeur. Achter hem staat de purser van de vlucht haar riedeltje op te dreunen. Ze zucht er nog net niet bij, maar deze norse kastanje heeft er duidelijk weinig zin in.

We vliegen weg en al snel is het tijd voor de hapjes en drankjes. Bij deze maatschappij betaal je voor je eten en drinken en ineens besef ik dat mijn portemonnee in het bagagerek boven mijn hoofd ligt. Toch wil ik een noedelsoep (guilty pleasure, ik geef het toe). De blije eikel neemt de bestelling aan, zegt dat dit ook één van zijn favorieten is en geeft de norse kastanje de opdracht om een ‘noedelsoep voor de knappe mevrouw op 2F’ te maken. Vervolgens beken ik dat mijn portemonnee nog boven me ligt. “Geen enkel probleem mevrouw, dat kan de beste overkomen”, zegt hij enthousiast. De norse kastanje zucht hoorbaar en draait zich om naar het keukentje om mijn noedelsoep te maken. Mijn rugzak komt tevoorschijn, hij maakt nog een grap dat roze ook zijn favoriete kleur is en alle rijen lachen ondertussen mee.

Wat heeft deze man een pret in zijn werk, echt geweldig. Ik weet zeker dat dit de tweede vlucht van zijn werkdag is en dat hij meer dan vroeg zijn bed uit is gekomen. Net als de norse kastanje trouwens, die er ondertussen echt geen zin meer in heeft. De noedelsoep is ze vergeten, en als ik ernaar vraag snauwt ze nog net niet terug.

Twee maanden en vier vluchten met andere airlines verder, herinner ik me nog steeds die ene vlucht, met de puffende purser en de aanstekelijke energie van de vrolijke steward. Die blije eikel die iedereen en dus ook mij een goed gevoel gaf. Dankjewel en ik hoop dat ik snel weer met jou mag vliegen.


Dit blog werd geschreven voor CustomerFirst en gepubliceerd op 28 maart 2018

Geen blog meer missen? Schrijf je in voor mijn maandelijkse CX Greetz!

More and more, I come to the conclusion that this is the missing link in many businesses and a must have when it comes to customer experience. The need for clear promises to customers. To see if this is an issue in your company, please try to answer these questions:

  • How does your company or brand stand out in comparison with your competitors? What is really distinguishing your company when it comes to the offering to your customers?
  • What do you promise your customers when they do business with you? What can they really expect from the product?
  • What kind of service promises do you make to customers? What do you want your customers to experience in which channels?

To deliver great customer experiences, you have to begin with the end in mind

What do you want your customers to experience? Were you able to answer at least 2 of the questions above? No? Now it is time to pay attention. I like to use airlines and cruises as examples. Let’s start with airlines.

Two complete opposites when it comes to flying. RyanAir and Emirates. When diving deeper into Ryanair, they have the brand promise “Low fares, made simple”. Everything they do is translated from this branding principle. The blue and yellow returns everywhere, on their website, banners, even in their planes. As a customer, you know what to expect. The low cost airline in Europe.

When looking at Emirates, they have the brand promise “Comfort and attention to detail you can rely on whenever you travel.” A whole different ball game from a branding perspective and you know what you can expect. Attention to detail, from the greeting in the plane, to the chauffeur service when you fly business class. They focus on a different customer, a different segment as does Ryanair.

Let’s also look at the cruise examples

I have picked three.Carnival is the cruise company I traveled with in 2016. They promise you “Fun for all and all for fun”. Knowing this, it makes it much easier to translate it into actions. Into moments in the customer journey where fun can be delivered. Also where there are possibilities for up and cross sell.

In the cruise business, there are more and another distinguishing brands. One of them is Disney Cruises. As soon as I write it down, you will know. This is all about Mickey and Minnie. As I have been browsing the web, it is still not crystal clear what their brand promise is, but it all comes down to “Creating happiness through magical experiences”.Focusing on families, on entertaining people who love the character experience.

Taking it down a different road is the Monsters of Rock cruise. Yes, a cruise that travels only once a year, fully booked with hard rock fans. No family vacation, but a real niche in the cruising industry. Customers that love hard rock and heavy partying are taking this cruise. So a clear branding, which also easily translates in entertainment, food and beverages. Take a look at their website and browse the FAQ. Their brand identity, has been translated in the way the questions are asked. As would their customers. I love question #9. Not “What kind of food is on board?”. No, it is all aligned with their Hard Rock image “Am I going to starve on board?”.

The key in all these examples, is that it’s about choosing. Who are we to our customers?

Brand promise, customer promises; what is the difference?

Some companies have a brand promise, like Carnival Cruises. Another example I like is KLM. They don’t have a brand promise, but they have customer promises. When looking on their website, you’ll find WHY to fly with KLM. They promise: 1. Direct flights around the globe, 2. Favorable flight schedules, 3. Typo? No charge, 4. Weather in your way? We got your back, 5. 24 hours to cancel, 6. Fly more, benefit more.

See the photo for a clip of the website. Where I especially like the promise “Typo? No charge”. It’s a very specific promise, where they explain: “Booked flights on and discovered a spelling mistake in the name on your ticket? We don’t charge you for being human. Just contact us via social media to correct your name. Please make sure to have it corrected at least 24 hours before check-in of your first flight starts.”

What I like about this customer promise, is that it addresses a fear that customers have. It reassures customers and takes care of them.

Now it comes back to you. What kind of promises do you make to your customers, or do you want to make to your customers? A promise on the highest level: a brand promise? Or rather customer promises that focus on elements in the customer journey?

What are crucial elements when it comes to choosing brand and/or customer promises?

There’s no easy answer here. But let’s try. When reading the blog of Bruce Jones (Disney Institute), I am attracted to the four elements he claims a brand promise must have from a customers perspective. The four things customers are looking for in a brand promise to be:

  • Important – Customers have expectations regarding the fair exchange of value. In exchange for their money and time, they rightfully expect something meaningful in return. The brand promise must convey what matters most to your customers.
  • Credible – Customers must believe that what you’re promising is possible and deliverable. It has never been good policy to “over-promise” and “under-deliver.”
  • Exclusive – No organization can be successful at trying to be everything for everybody. Find your niche, and carve out a unique space to “own” in the mind of your customer.
  • Differentiating – The brand promise must truly set you apart from your competitors and be based on legitimate differentiators.

I am curious. Do you dare to set yourself and your business apart from other businesses and stand out with an Important, Credible, Exclusive and Differentiating brand promise? Please let me know where you struggle in your company to stand out with your brand promise and maybe I can help you out. Let’s help each other in creating these Great Customer Experiences.

“All for fun and fun for all.” Does this appeal to you or would you rather go on a heavy metal cruise? Would you like to go on holidays with a cruise company who is really clear on what to expect? Let me take you on a cruise and learn about Customer Experience in the meantime.

The slogan “All for fun and fun for all” appealed to me and my 17-year-old daughter when we wanted to take our first cruise ever in 2016. We had some ideas that cruising was for older people, senior fellow humans, to be honest. But when I dived deeper into the world of cruises, I found out there is much more to it. From Disney cruises to heavy metal cruises, from classy to fun and party cruises. That’s what we wanted, a fun cruise, on a boat in the sun where at least we could pay a visit to the Bahamas.

The booking of the cruise, the information I received, the boarding (which was the moment I dreaded the most in the customer journey), the cabin, the logistics on the cruise ship, the trips on the islands, the employees… This cruise was a best practice when it comes to customer experience. Not only as a guest, I enjoyed it to the max. But also as a customer experience professional I couldn’t stop smiling. Cruising the Caribbean and experiencing a brilliant CX journey. It couldn’t be better.

So, let’s cruise this CX best practice. What was so brilliant? When I look at a simple (but very effective) strategy, the transformational CX model comes to mind. Companies that want to become customer centric, work on the 3 strategies of the model with determination and fun, will make customers happier, earn their loyalty, their spending and end up with raving fans.

The three strategies of the transformational CX model

  1. Brand Delivery in the Customer Journey
  2. Voice of the Customer
  3. Employee Ambassadorship

Let’s take a look at Carnival Cruises and their promise “All for fun and fun for all”. For me this is the start of all good customer experiences. No, let me correct myself, for great customer experiences. As a company or as a brand, you probably have a purpose, a mission, even a vision. But what do you want your customers to experience? Elements that are crucial here, are customer promises, or maybe even a brand promise like the one from Carnival Cruises. Because when you know what you want your customers to experience, you can start reverse engineering.

Begin with the end in mind

This is what I mean: begin with the end in mind. What do you want your customers to say, to feel, to tell their friends and family when they did business with you? If you know these words, these feelings; you know what’s needed in the customer journey to deliver these experiences daily. Where can you make a difference, what are moments for up and cross sell, what are great moments to listen, what’s needed from the employees?

So, begin with the end in mind when it comes to customer experience. At Carnival Cruises they go for Fun. They offered fun from their booking emails to their cabin experience in the towel folding. They had upsell packages at the moment of boarding “Faster to the fun”. I could board earlier than other guests, if I paid some extra dollars. What a smart way to use the brand promise, make me happy as a customer (because who likes waiting?) and increase revenue at the same time.

Now it’s me who’s curious. What are companies that are spot on when it comes to customer experience? That begin with the end in mind and shine in daily delivery? Share your best practices in companies with outstanding customer promises, so we can all learn and dive deeper into the magic behind these great customer experiences.


** Nienke Bloem is expert in Customer Experience (CCXP), both as Trusted Advisor, Keynote Speaker and co-founder of the customer experience game. Do you want to receive regular updates? Subscribe to her monthly CX Greetz and don’t miss anything! **

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

If I am YOUR customer tomorrow, can you guarantee me that I will be a happy customer? Let’s say you can give me a 99% guarantee? No? 90% perhaps? Or maybe you don’t know? Before I give you insights on how to go about this, let me take you on a cruise…

The cruise I made in 2016 was the perfect example of how Customer Experience should be organized. Everything fell into place. Effective (meeting needs), easy and enjoyable. These 3 words, that are the basics for the Customer Experience Pyramid of Forrester, help to identify if experiences are making customers happy and if they are creating loyalty.

When looking at my customer journey with Carnival – as a Customer Experience Expert – I can identify 3 phases in the journey: Pre-Travel, Travel and Post Travel.

In the Pre-Travel phase, I was browsing the web for the cruise as their prospective guest, together with my 18 year old daughter. 2 elements were essential. Date of travel and destination (we wanted to visit the Bahamas). After googling my way around the cruise world, I found a perfect cruise with Carnival. But would we really like that? At that moment I was surprised as a CX pro. They had a distinguishing Customer Promise: “Fun for all, all for Fun”. What a great way of distinguishing themselves. Their reviews resonated with that. I had a peek at and the reviews were realistic and enthusiastic. So, we booked. They even seduced us to upgrade our booking to a Spa Suite. Giving as extra perks and a balcony. And off we went..

The thing I dreaded most of the travel was boarding. Just imagine 3000 travelers wanting to get on board of this immense cruise ship at the same time. Help! But Carnival realized that could be moment of pain. They acknowledged my fear by offering me a special boarding slot. When we arrived at the terminal, everything was organized, planned and there was a quiet atmosphere. With my professional eye I noticed the VIP deck, for frequent travelers who were loyal Carnival customers. And I also learned from my neighbor that they bought a special package: “Faster to the Fun”. Wow, hands up for Carnival, creating an upsell in this moment of pain and turning it into a ‘Must Have’ for me. Yes, next time I travel with Carnival, I will buy this package. Boarding was easy peasy. No hustle at all. And the travel was brilliant. Everything a cruise in the Caribbean should be!

When we left the Carnival Splendor, they sent us a review form and of course I filled it out. Being an enthusiastic person, I had booked all trips to the 4 islands we visited (they made it easy for me, getting booking done on my TV set in the cabin, YES, incredible, isn’t it?!) and they gave me the joy of spending. Investing in memories forever. I shared my story on Facebook and my daughter shared the whole cruise through Snapchat. What does that matter? Think of several of her friends now asking their parents to also go on a cruise with Carnival… Carnival created a mental contract with me. By crafting these special memories, they are my favorite if we go on a cruise again. Besides, how about me sharing this information with you through this blog. What do you think of that; being an Ambassador and an Advocate at the same time.

How can you replicate what Carnival did with me? You should work on the 3 pillars of the Transformational Customer Experience Framework (in co-creating with Ian Golding) .

1.      Voice of the Customer

Listen to your customers. Through NPS or CSAT and most definitely through Reviews. Make sure you know what your customers See, Hear and Feel while being a customer with you. Learn about your customers. Not only during sales, but also after sales. Make sure you get your feedback and then… ACT. Reach out to your customers. Call them, fix hiccups and start improving broken experiences. Fix those processes, train your employees. Take action and take the lead. That is what the Voice of the Customer pillar is about.

2.      Brand delivery in the customer journey

This has 2 elements. First of all Branding. What is your branding about? Is it distinguishing in the market place; are you any different from your competitors? Make sure you know what you promise to your customer. Where Carnival was all about fun, they knew how to put it into practice. Which takes me to step 2: Identify those moments of pain and moments of truth. At which moments in the customer journey do you have to be there? What are the dilemmas of your customers? Take these moments into account and look at your processes through the eyes/ears/hearts of your customer. Make your communication explicit and consistent in all channels and at all touchpoints. Make sure the customer experiences are planned and organized.

3.      Employee Ambassadorship

Now you are listening to your customers, you know how you distinguish yourself in the marketplace and you know what type of experience you would like to be delivered in the customer journey. It is up to your employees to deliver on that promise. There are 2 elements to this. They need to have the KNOWLEDGE; they need to  know what to deliver, what and when and they have to be trained and skilled. And most important, the second element of Employee Ambassadorship: MOTIVATION. They need to be engaged with your organization and your brand.

Great Customer Experiences don’t happen by accident. They are planned and organized and staff is able to deliver. When you work systematically on these 3 pillars of the framework, you will be successful. It is a long term perspective and more of a transformation than pure change. Leadership is necessary and support from the C-suite is essential. And it can be done. And if you don’t believe me, go on a cruise with for example Carnival, maybe we should go together with a group of CX professionals. Learn from the best in class just as I have experienced.