The Netherlands

Customer Experience Excellence report 2022

Customer Experience Excellence report 2022

This year’s CEE rankings demonstrate the value customers have in brand’s ability to provide one of life’s most important yet rarely acknowledged service: access to good food, and the ability to prepare a decent meal.

Ten of 12 Dutch supermarkets were included in the top 100 of this year’s rankings, with Grocery retail the best performing sector. This could be that, due to the ongoing influence of the pandemic, customers are more appreciative of the simple fact that grocery retail was there, that it supplied what they needed, and was close by. With delivery services widely offered – and subsequently adopted – the sector came closer still to providing a much-needed and convenient service.

Keurslager and De Echte Bakker maintained their first and second places in the 2022 brand rankings, an impressive achievement given the competition as more and more retailers open their doors post-pandemic. Where some have invested heavily in leveraging digital to improve CX, both leading brands – and butcher and baker respectively – held their top spots without offering a sophisticated or mature digital experience. They lean on ‘traditional’ retail, proving that, when done consistently, brands can still outperform others.

Retailers in the Netherlands may suffer from various headwinds in the coming months. First of many is record-breaking inflation. A large proportion of consumers haven’t ever dealt with inflation at these levels; they will need to adapt, but how they will do so is uncertain. Consumers may simply cut back on expenses or choose to change their shopping behavior more severely and move to value brands or products. Alternatively they may fundamentally change their behavior or attitude towards certain categories. With the increase in convenience shopping, we’re likely to see different shifts to previous generations.

For example, as a result of increase in disposable income over the past decades many consumers moved to products that offered ultra-convenience. Ready-cut vegetables. Mixed salads, Easy-to-prepare-menu boxes. Some are not used to preparation and supermarkets have an opportunity to help consumers that suffer most from inflation by helping them approach cooking differently.

  • This may not only effect grocery retail, but most sectors. If certain groups of consumers move to more drastic shifts in their behavior to apply to the high levels of inflation, it requires every industry to adjust as well. Think about the (payment) flexibility Utility can offer to accommodate the customer. But it goes beyond adjusting the product or service portfolio, and can also effect the sales and delivery channels. 
  • As a result of consumer challenges such as the pressure on disposable income due to inflation, it is recommended for retailers to pay specific attention to the more ‘softer’ parts of the CX pillars. Empathy, Integrity, Expectations are the pillars that are likely for consumers to put more emphasis on. Sectors as Public Sector and Travel & Hotels already experience the impact of this sentiment. A deep analysis to identify specific gain and pain points in journey’s related to those pillars, is recommended moving forward.
  • The challenge is to test and learn new variations of business model and or operating model innovations while at the same time continue to improve the performance on the 6 pillars. Maintaining a top position is only possible by continue to improve, since peers are doing the same. It remains a non-stop marathon. 
  • However, with an increasing internal pressure on costs, CX departments need to contribute to enterprise results by streamlining their operations as well. Data, People, Capabilities, Tech, Delivery model should be streamlined in order to deliver tangible cost saving results. 
  • Being completely transparent is pivotal in challenging times like this. Every decision that brands take that may impact the perceived value of the product or service (including raising prices, reducing size, rationalizing brand and/or product portfolio, downsizing service and/or delivery options) need to be communicated clearly and genuinely. 
  • Incorporating learnings from behavioral intervention principles is crucial to reduce the risk of reputational damage.

As customers become more willing to part with their money for an enhanced, personal experience, select grocery retailers are steaming ahead in the customer experience rankings.

There’s no surprise that this year, grocery retail has retained the top spot in the rankings as the best performing sector for customer experience. The consistent performance, availability and great service during another year of lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions has been rewarded by the Dutch consumer, with the top two ranked brands being a butcher and baker respectively.

But it’s not just specialist grocery retailers that are impressing; 10 out of 12 supermarkets are part of the Top 100.

Retaining the number one ranking for the Dutch market this year is Keurslager, an association of specialist butchers offering local, reliable service with high quality meats. Per the Keurslager website, they have attracted “butchers who speak the same language and who have had a common DNA for more than 75 years: craftsmanship, craft, personal attention and quality.”

They hold these butchers to the highest of standards, regularly surveying them. “A butcher cannot just call himself Keurslager. Keurslagers comply with formula guidelines in the field of hygiene, quality, distinctiveness and food safety.”

For the first time in decades, consumers in the Netherlands are facing severe inflation rates. Cost of groceries has increased by more than 18%, in addition to steep increases in energy rates. The biggest challenge for brands in the market is to maintain brand trust, while managing demand to continue to increase prices.

High performing brands are prioritizing Personalization, Time & Effort, and going above and beyond to exceed customer Expectations. Keurslager performs so well in these pillars thanks to its reputation as a local village butcher. Each store offers friendly service, high quality products and goes the extra mile – Keurslager is especially popular in small towns and villages. And while prices have risen, Keurslager has retained brand loyalty. One customer explains: “The Keurslager in our village is a bit more expensive, but the products are tastier than the supermarket. Moreover, the people are always helpful and willing to have a chat, and they have amazing homemade dishes. I would rather pay something extra for good food and great service.”

The slight decrease in overall performance and widening of the gap between strong and weak performers, is not only because of an intrinsic decline in CX efforts or performance.We are in the midst of an era where the irrational part of consumer decision making will likely be more dominant than ever before as a result of increasing personal worries and challenges.. As a result, expectations may increase exponentially. Brands should focus on incorporating learnings of behavioral science in order to take the appropriate human-led CX decisions rather than the traditional process-led ones. Brands that embrace this thinking with empathy will leapfrog their peers that tend to stick to the usual pathways.

Edgar Molenaars
Partner, Customer & Brand Advisory
KPMG in the Netherlands

2022 Top Ten

  01. Keurslager

  02. De echte bakker



  05. Picnic

  06. ASN Bank

  07. Eye Wish Opticiens

  08. Nike Store

  09. Van der Valk Hotels

  10. Rituals