Customer Experience Excellence report 2021

Customer Experience Excellence report 2021


Dutch customers continued to experience upheaval in their everyday customer experiences (CX) throughout 2021, as a result of the global health crisis. With most shops being closed, the race was on for businesses to be on the front foot of digital, distinctive experiences in no time at all.  Brands that were able to provide truly high-quality products and differentiated experiences were rewarded by customers with high scores and loyalty.

This year, grocery retail has overtaken financial services as the leading sector in the market.  In a year that has been anything but ordinary, grocery retailers were pushed to accelerate the implementation of modern technologies and processes to deliver a seamless digital/mobile first model. With not only restaurants and hotels, but almost every physical shop being closed during the research period, going to the supermarket, bakery or butchershop,  often felt like a liberating event to customers. Almost similar to visiting a supermarket when being on holiday, going to the supermarket turned into a real trip. This shift in customer perception also changed customer expectations and purchases. Customers were on the search for higher quality products to enjoy on their evenings and weekends at home. Brands who were able to stay available and meet these changed demands in product range, clearly benefited. Both Keurslager and De Echte Bakker – which occupy first and third highest ranking positions – are successful newcomers in this category ticking all the requested boxes, which has given the grocery retail sector a boost in this year’s rankings.

Keurslager, a traditional butcher’s chain providing top quality meat across The Netherlands, is this year’s stand-out newcomer in customer experience rankings, coming in first. Known for its local touch, yet ranking in the top two positions of every research pillar, Keurslager has excelled in finding the balance between keeping local, friendly and personal service while showcasing Integrity. One loyal customer says: “I’ve been a customer for 50 years already. I visit often, there’s good quality of products, friendly people who say ‘hello’ as you enter the shop, they give good advice and have a large product range.”

De Echte Bakker has its stringent quality measures to thank for its loyal returning customers and top performance in this year’s rankings. The quality of grocery products such as bread has become increasingly important to customers in the Netherlands, and the bakery collective prides itself on only granting membership to bakeries which meet a minimum quality standard. Where an initial shift was observed of consumers buying their bread increasingly at supermarkets rather than bakeries, in the city of Amsterdam a reverse trend had already begun, as more small artisan bakeries opened their doors and were gaining popularity in different segments[1]. What made them stand out from the crowd? Specialism, experimentation and a clear focus on high-quality artisan bread. With the increased emphasis put on Integrity, Personalization and high-quality products, it seems that COVID-19 has only accelerated the demand for and satisfaction with artisan bread and a transparent, local supply chain. Add a customer’s perception of friendly, local service and it is not a surprise that both De Echte Bakker and the Keurslager are on top in this year’s ranking.

Another high ranking brand for The Netherlands is optician Specsavers, which has seen its highest score across ranking pillars since its first year in the survey in 2018.

Specsavers jumped a huge 42 places to become the fifth best evaluated brand in our Dutch rankings, with an Empathy score 11% above the market average. Its commitment to staying open and serving the community throughout COVID-19, and its ability to pivot to virtual consultations and a focus on e-commerce have been driving factors of its customer experience ranking.

As is the trend across many regions in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Integrity is a key driver of customer loyalty and advocacy, as well as Personalization. Consumer values have shifted – the brands that put customer and community safety at heart are rewarded with appraisal, and loyalty.

As the culture shifts into a more hybrid world where digitization is as important as a physical footprint, brands face the challenge of embracing omnichannel commerce while keeping customers top of mind and meeting their Personalization needs. Brands that get this right will stand out from the crowd and invite loyalty and advocacy well into the future. What’s important for brands to remember is that the customer experience is always evolving.  Keeping pace with technological advancements is a must, how you apply technology can be critical for success. Using your brand to develop and deliver a differentiated, digital CX will likely be a key CX determinant moving forward.

Brands increasingly depend on CX to strengthen their brand equity, but the experiences they deliver become more and more alike. Brands should be more aware of the importance of creating differentiating and brand specific experiences

Edgar Molenaars
Partner Customer and Brand Advisory
KPMG in the Netherlands


Leading CX brands in Netherlands






Van der Valk Hotels




De echte bakker






de Bijenkorf