Lessons from the Concertgebouw


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What is a “customer experience”? As Maz Iqbal from the Customer Blog recently tweeted in reaction to the post on Dutch dikes, it’s to “think/act holistically, entire customer experience – all of it!”.

And the Concertgebouw (Concert Hall) in Amsterdam, world famous for its acoustics, gets this. Instead of just hosting concerts of top audio quality, they transform a concert into a rich, cultural experience.

To do this, they are going through a few steps handy in designing any customer experience:

The first is : identify the different customers, and adjust the service accordingly. Different people come to the concert hall for different reasons – and the programming reflects this. There are short children’s concerts for young families on Sunday afternoons, major concerts featuring “big” names during the week for corporate clients, and music from Hip Hop to Tango in an intimate hall at an attractive price for young aficionados.

A ticket to the 1 hour Sunday morning concert brings : a cup of coffee, free public transport and 50% off a visit to the nearby Stedelijk Museum or Rijksmuseum

The second is : understand what customers want from a specific visit. Let’s take the Sunday morning concert at 11 am: just an hour, perfect for elderly couples, or for a visit with your mother-in-law.

For some visitors, the Sunday concert seems to fill a role that Church used to: an hour of inspiring music, followed by coffee with family. Others come from outside the city, and use the concert as part of an afternoon in Amsterdam, a sort of “Day Tripper”.

The third is : design the “ideal” experience around this understanding. The concert itself is the basis – so making sure that it meets or exceeds what visitors want is priority number one (1). The Concertgebouw – with its 125 years of history – seems to have this covered.

But what transforms the Sunday concert into an experience (2)?

  • Well, how about simplifying getting to and from the concert? (Check : the ticket is good for free public transportation an hour before and after the concert).
  • Offering coffee? (Check : concert price includes cappuccino before the concert which is expertly handed out with minimal lines).
  • Lunch? (Check : lunch at the Concertgebouw’s restaurant is an add-on when you buy the ticket).
  • Other “entertainment” before or after the concert for the “Day Trippers”? (Check : the ticket is good for 50% off at the nearby museums. An optional tour of the Concertgebouw before the concert is also an add-on to the ticket).

The Concertgebouw has thought of it all. This non-profit organisation can teach many a commercial company a thing or two about customer experience. Bravo. A+.

Well almost all. For a concert filled with seniors, the font size on the folder is tiny, presumably to get all the information onto a cost-effective A4. Maybe enabling visitors to read it on a screen before hand, or having a few print outs (laminated) in large type by the coffee room would help. And many seniors aren’t so mobile, so making the near-by parking garage an add-on to the ticket could help.

There’s always room for improvement :) .


(1) = “It works ” score of A/B/C or F in the Experience Scan.

(2) = an additional “+” for “It understands me” in the Experience Scan.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Lea Ward
Director at C.Note, a customer experience design & strategy firm based in Amsterdam. Active blogger & author of Trust Equity: How to create products & services that matter. Award winner IxDA 2012.


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