The future of customer-centric business in The Netherlands — Klantgericht Ondernemen 2022


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On June 6 in Rotterdam, I was honored to present the opening keynote at Klantgericht Ondernemen 2022, a conference celebrating the 10th anniversary of the CRM Association in The Netherlands. Around 200 people attended, and I must say it was one of the most enthusiastic audiences I’ve ever spoken to about customer-centric business strategy.

Wil Wurtz, the leader of the association during all this time, invited me to share lessons learned. I found it quite challenging to sum up 10+ years of industry developments in about 30 minutes. Eventually I boiled it all down to these 7 lessons.

  1. Be Inspired, Not (Just) Driven — top brands go beyond just doing what customers ask
  2. Many Paths to the Top — many different ways to the customer-centric summit
  3. Loyalty is Job One — no substitute for understanding what drives genuine customer loyalty
  4. Tools Don’t Make the Carpenter — adopting specific methods or technologies is not enough
  5. Can’t Fake Culture — too few companies reward employees for building customer loyalty
  6. Five Habits Drive Lasting Success — the subject of my upcoming book!
  7. Leaders Matter. A LOT. — a strong CEO with customer-centric vision is essential

The rest of the conference was devoted to a look ahead to 2022. For example, Prof. Victor Lamme of the University of Amsterdam shared some of his research into neuropsychology. The brain doesn’t lie! Using MRI technology into how consumers reacted to different images of products, people, etc. is a better indication of how they really felt and what they would do, than what they said they would do — e.g. when filling out a survey. This has important implications for market research and VoC — we shouldn’t take customer input as the “truth.”

One very interesting development was the name change for the association. The CRM Association is now called Platform voor Klantgericht Ondernemen, which means Platform for Customer-oriented Entrepreneurship. Why? Because “CRM” has been taken to mean “tools” by the Dutch market just like in the US and elsewhere. Wurtz told me he wanted to attract more business leaders who were interested in customer-centricity as a business strategy and not just technology.

This, of course, is exactly the same reason why in early 2007 I wrote Why “CRM” Must Die for Customer-Centric Business To Thrive and a few months later announced the name change of our community from to It’s sad that “CRM” didn’t become accepted to mean customer-centric business, but it’s still an important foundation. As I explained to the audience in Rotterdam, CRM, CEM, Social Business and Big Data are all part of a framework of tools and methods that can help a customer-centric business perform well.

After my keynote I presented Wil Wurtz with a CustomerThink Excellence Award, in recognition of the great work of the association under his leadership for 10 years.

The future of customer-centric business in The Netherlands is in good hands with Platform voor Klantgericht Ondernemen!


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