Douwe Egberts, a brand management story

I started enjoying coffee a few years ago so I hope the fact that I didn’t know about Douwe Egberts until recently will be kindly overlooked. A nice flavour during a Dutch breakfast convinced me to try this coffee again some time, and the opportunity came a few weeks ago while being in Hague with my wife. She noticed Douwe Egberts’ shop on Noordeinde street so we decided to have a latte and a sandwich.

I’ve placed the order, took the plate with the two full glasses of latte and headed to our table. Everything would have been a normal visit and no story would have been told unless an unfortunate accident happened: my backpack dropped from my left shoulder on my forearm while bending to place the plate on the table. You cannot imagine the mess I’ve made: there was coffee spelled all over the table, chairs, floor… the full content of the two glasses was literally all over the place.

One of the girls from the bar came in a hurry and, before I would have my chance to apologize and even before looking at their messed assets, she made sure I’m all right and directed me to a toilet to wash my hands and jacket. When I returned, she was already cleaning the mess so I went to the bar to order some new ones. She noticed me, smiled and told me she would bring the coffees to the table. Obviously, I told myself, it’s fair not to take a second chance with my two left hands but than I had my first surprise: she wouldn’t let me pay for them but insisted to accept the new coffees on the house. You can see part of my second surprise in the picture nearby: they made it for us with unworthy consideration – a “cappuccino art” heart on each of the lattes and two nice dark chocolates aside.

That was the moment I turned from an occasional customer to a “brand lover”. No matter how much you try to promote a brand, in the end your client facing staff will be making the difference in your brand promise.

Looking back at my brand management story:

  • the quality of the product made me become an occasional customer;
  • the service made me “love” the brand;
  • accessibility is a key point in being a loyal customer (the brand is not so well represented when compared to competitors such as Starbucks, for instance).
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4 thoughts on “Douwe Egberts, a brand management story”

  1. Hi, that’s a nice story to be considered whenever we talk about brands and services. It’s my first time here, I came across your blog today and I find it more and more useful as I read. Thanks!

  2. It’s a wonderful story, thanks for sharing it!
    Something I’m curious about is the link between the brand and the great experience you had. Is offering “great coffee experience” or something similar actually part of the brand, something you would expect (and ideally see) from all these employees, in all locations? Or was it just a fluke: that person happenened to care about customers, whether it`s part of the brand or not, and her coworkers may have a very different attitude?
    In other words: her behaviour gave you a positive impression of the brand; but was her behaviour actually inspired by (or linked to) the brand? Dominique

    1. Thanks Dominique. I’m not sure how her behaviour was linked to the brand and offering a great customer experience but I’m absolutely positive it was clearly connected in my mind. My customer experience had a direct correlation to the brand image I have. Should I get a different (not so good) customer experience somewhere else, it will definitely have a direct impact over the brand image I have. It’s true that you have to maintain the same level of experience to keep the brand promise and get a high image of your brand in your customer’s eyes…

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