Customer Experience

What Do You Prefer: a Blue Ocean or a Red Ocean Strategy?

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Blue or Red Ocean Strategy
Blue or Red Ocean Strategy


A short note about the advantage of a Blue Ocean Strategy.
Imagine you are going to dive. What is more attractive?

Jumping in to a blood filled red ocean? An ocean full of sharks who are fighting to eat and survive?

Or jumping in to a blue ocean? An ocean where you can swim and there is enough space for growth? Probably you would answer that a blue ocean is far more attractive.

But what about your business model? What strategy are you following? Did you also jump in to a blue ocean when you founded your company? Probably not. It’s very likely that you jumped straight in to a red ocean at that time.

My next question is: why? Why didn’t you jump in to an attractive blue ocean where there is enough space to grow your business? I’ll give an example why you should have considered this.

Cirque du Soleil is a classic example of a successful Blue Ocean Strategy. In 20 years they achieved more revenues than the world’s leading circuses Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey had in an entire century!

According to Harvard Business Review ( this is the explanation of their success:

…any new entrant to this business would be competing against a formidable incumbent that for most of the last century had set the industry standard.

How did Cirque profitably increase revenues by a factor of 22 over the last ten years in such an unattractive environment? The tagline for one of the first Cirque productions is revealing: “We reinvent the circus.”

Cirque did not make its money by competing within the confines of the existing industry or by stealing customers from Ringling and the others. Instead it created uncontested market space that made the competition irrelevant.

It pulled in a whole new group of customers who were traditionally non-customers of the industry—adults and corporate clients who had turned to theatre, opera, or ballet and were, therefore, prepared to pay several times more than the price of a conventional circus ticket for an unprecedented entertainment experience.


W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne studied over 150 Blue Ocean strategy examples in over 30 industries. Based on their study they wrote an excellent book about Blue Ocean Strategies. Everyone who wants to create a new market space and a sustainable business model, has to read this book!

This book uses many examples to demonstrate how to break out of traditional competitive strategic thinking. The four principles of Blue Strategic thinking are:

  1. How to create uncontested market space by reconstructing market boundaries
  2. Focusing on the big picture
  3. Reaching beyond existing demand
  4. Getting the strategic sequence right.


Five examples of companies that created new market spaces in the opinion of Kim and Mauborgne (source: Wikipedia):

  1. Cirque du Soleil: Blending of opera and ballet with circus format while eliminating star performer and animals
  2. Southwest Airlines: offering flexibility of bus travel at the speed of air travel using secondary airports
  3. Curves: redefining market boundaries between health clubs and home exercise programs for women
  4. Home Depot: offering the prices and range of lumberyard, while offering consumers classes to help them with DIY projects
  5. Dyson: Cyclonic Vacuum Cleaners.



Step back and take a good look at your business model. In which market are you fighting and what are you offering? Try to imagine what the unknown market space, untainted by competition looks like. Start reconstructing your business model to enter the Blue Ocean.

And move from the Red Ocean to the Blue Ocean. It’s a far more rewarding path!


I wish you a great Blue Ocean!


Do you want to know more? Please take a look at:



There are a lot of tools that you can use. For 2 very useful tools to start with:


Refine your business model with these tools:




The Value of Feedback for Retailers and Restaurant Owners

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The Value of Feedback for Retailers & Restaurant Owners. What Helped You More: Negative or Positive Feedback?


Positive or negative feedback
Positive or negative feedback (survey Harvard Business Review)


According to a survey published on Harvard Business Review Blog on March 10, 2014, 52% of the people appreciate negative feedback.
The explanation from the researchers is quite simple: “There’s no mystery why. Practically three quarters of them thought their performance would improve and their careers advance if their managers gave them corrective feedback.”

While reading this article, my thoughts went to retailers, restaurant owners, etc. (“business owners”) who are collecting feedback as well. Do they also prefer negative feedback? Or are they only looking for positive feedback that will bring new customers in return?

My experience is that a lot of business owners are anxious to get reviewed and therefore don’t encourage customers not encouraging to give a review unless they are sure it’s good-excellent.

In my opinion every review matters and especially the bad ratings are valuable. Every business owner should focus on customer experience. If a customer isn’t satisfied he should undertake prompt action. An infographic from KISSmetrics shows that even 13-25%* of the customers expect a response within 60 minutes!


Response time to complaints and feedback
How fast should a customer service respond?

*13% Via email and 25% via Twitter

Besides customers’ expectations, there is an another reason to respond quickly: Social Media! Most customers love to share their experiences & thoughts and they will definitely share their negative experience with you as well! #Fail at Twitter is a very popular hashtag word!

Unless a business owner has a 24/7 customer care team, 30 minutes response time is not realistic. It’s sufficient when a business owner matches the customers’ expectations as soon as he notices the bad review. The last thing a business owner should do is ignoring or even putting the feedback into question. And that happens looking at this article about a “3500 fee violating non disagreement clause” used by an online retailer:


Wrapping up:

  • Respond as soon as possible and keep in mind that customers are expecting the same as your employees: respect and being heard.
  • Listen to your customers and match their expectations. 51% Will give a positive reaction in return.
  • 22% Will post a positive comment about the organisation.

So next time a business owner is in doubt whether to ask for feedback or not, he shouldn’t doubt but do! There is a lot to win!

I wish you many happy customers!

Made to stick 7: when do you start social sharing retailer?

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share - comment - rate it
Social sharing retailers


This evening I was going through some studies and I found a survey about social sharing and retailers published in 2012 from Sociable Labs.

Because I was curious, I started reading and I found following:

  • Retailers will increase their benefits from social sharing by displaying socially shared content directly on their ecommerce sites
  • Offering an option to share “on-site only” will remove a major inhibitor for many consumers to share, which also provides confidence-building social proofing content for new visitors
  • Retailers will increase referral visits from social sharing by making it simple for consumers to share product discounts/deals with their friends
  • Retailers will further increase referral visits by encouraging consumers to share the reasons they decided to purchase that product. Combining these reasons with deals will increase shopper referral visits significantly


Fact: we are 2 years later and according to various LinkedIn Retail Groups and studies, retailers are still wondering HOW they can get benefits from social media.

Come on guys! I wrote in 2012 a thesis about the possibilities of a retail platform. Collaboration between retailers and consumers in an online world. At Startup Asia Singapore 2014 I attended a pitch from Bindo, they got a similar retail platform live this year. There are plenty of similar affordable possibilities.

So what’s next excuse? More papers? More surveys? More discussions? No time?

No, no, no! Just start sharing, trying, experiencing with Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest in your store and on your website. Take photos from customers, ask for their recommendations and place laptops or iPads in your store to facilitate online searching and sharing.

Because if you don’t facilitate your potential customers when they are around you, they’ll continue their search and share somewhere else. Big chance that you lost a customer!

My advice: take a look at what you’ve done yet and take your next step to start social sharing. For example: add a Twitter stream on your website and engage with your followers. You’ll see it’s fun to share & engage!

So: when do you start social sharing retailer?

I wish you a lot of happy customers!

Questions? Remarks? Comments? Please leave a comment and I’ll get in touch with you!

Strategy of Razer Games: customer experience & excellent product leadership…

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Why is customer experience & product leadership for Razer games so important?

During Start Up Asia 2014 in Singapore Ming-Liang Tan (founder and CEO of Razer) talked about his company Razer (for gamers – by gamers). Razer develops games, hardware and accessories and is the worlds’ leading gaming brand in the world. Razer was founded in 1989 in San Diegio and has 9 offices worldwide.

As a co-founder of startup Tabluu which has just launched an online feedback and social referral tool, I was very curious if Ming-Liang Tan would unfold some secrets of Razors’ success to his audience.

Ming-Liang Tan started immediately with the advantages of developing software:
– Low capital, high expenditure
– Open source possibilities
– Scalable server capacity when hosted in the cloud
– Time spend on smartphones grows enormously
– Software has extremely high margins.

But this isn’t enough to become worlds’ number 1 in the gaming industry. Razer focuses on 2 strategies and executes them with more than 100%:
– Building the best hardware and software products a gamer can buy
– Using a high premium pricing model for maximum investment in R&D for the best product development a gamer can wish.

And after having explained the industry advantages and strategy of Razer, Ming-Liang Tan unfolded the 3 core values on which Razer is build:
1. Mindset: everyone is a team member. Employees, suppliers and customers. Only teams can build the best products!
2. Focus: figure out what not to do. Don’t start something because of starting something. Step back and keep extremely high focused.
3. It’s all about the gamer and his experience: Razer develops, hardware and accessories as well. This fits perfect in their strategy of product leadership.

With these 3 core values, Razer creates the ultimate brand awareness which can be demonstrated by pictures of gamers who wear Razer tattoos:

Razer tattoo
Customers wearing Razer logo’s

How many brands have customers who wear their logo? It’s the ultimate customer loyalty!


Razer has a very high standard and listens always to their customers. Customers engage, communicate and anticipate in everything what Razer does.

By creating super products which exceed customers’ expectations, Razer achieved a number 1 position in the gaming world.

In my opinion the best part of this story is that every company can become a leader. By listening to their customers and keeping highly focused on 1 strategy (product leadership, operational excellence or customer intimacy), every company can set a new standard in their industry. And increase their lead over the competition!
Patrick Nelissen, co-founder of Tabluu. The easiest feedback & social referral tool for business owners!


PS take a look at Tabluu as well for the easiest online feedback & referral tool!


Made to stick 6: why don’t you ask me WHY?

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Why question
Why don’t you ask me WHY?


Every week I’ll post an easy to use and “no budget” tip to improve business. My challenge is to get my message clear in 30 seconds reading time. Please let me know if I succeeded in this!

Nowadays a lot of companies try to acquire new customers by providing free whitepapers, free subscriptions, trial periods and money back guarantees. All these “gifts” followed up by attractive emails to convince me to buy their product or service.

The reason why I almost never respond to these emails is that these companies try to convince me by selling success stories and telling about the fabulous features they have.

This weekend I was thinking about these efforts and I was wondering about the success rate. I guess this rate can never be so high. But I am afraid that I’ll never know the real success rate…
To increase this success rate, I’ll give them an advice: don’t sell but ask!

If these companies would ask me “why don’t you respond?”, it will be very likely that I’ll respond to them. Especially if we can chat about my real problem and if we can find a solution to solve this problem. Then I would buy their product or service!
Is this hard to achieve? No! You only need a good template and an email campaign manager program with proper statistic to track the non-responders.

When do you start asking WHY? I wish you a lot of happy customers!


PS Do you want to know more about the importance of the WHY-question? Take a look at the website “Start with why” from Simon Sinek.

Inspiring Video from Simon Sinek @TED talks: How great leaders inspire action | Talk Video |

PPS And if you want to ask “why” while you are meeting a customer, take a look at the website: (the easiest way to get feedback & social engagement)

Made to stick 5: Refferals, why is it so difficult?

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How to get referrals and recommendations?


Every week I’ll post an easy to use and “no budget” tip to improve business. My challenge is to get my message clear in 30 seconds reading time. Please let me know if I succeeded in this!

I am really wondering why business owners don’t ask to recommend their service or product.

Let’s face the facts:
– According to Forrester 80% of the business is based upon returning customers and recommendations;
– According to Forrester a returning customer spend 5-8x more than a new customer;
– According to Retail Dive* Millenialls like to get feedback from their friends what they take into consideration when shopping next time;
– And according to Retail Dive* Female teenagers still like shopping in a store instead of shopping on the internet.

If you take these 4 facts into consideration, why are business owners so passive?

The facts are clear and it’s unbelievable why business owners don’t ask for recommendations to get referrals!
Instead of discounts and promotions to attract new customers, business owners should invest in their existing customers and try to stimulate them to recommend. 80%… 5-8x more spending… How more attractive should these figures have to be before a business owners gets active?

When do you start asking for recommendations? I wish you many returning customers who like to recommend you!

PS Interested in referrals & social media? Take a look at A Singaporean startup who developed an online referral and social media engagement tool.

PPS More inspiration? Take a look at these video animations:

*Based on survey from

Made to stick 4: within 1 minute Apple’s wow strategy is gone

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Every week I’ll post an easy to use and “no budget” tip to improve business. My challenge is to get my message clear in 30 seconds reading time. Please let me know if I succeeded in this!

Wow factor for customers
Wow factor









Over the last 10 years, I’ve been an enthusiastic user of Apple products. Their ecosystem offers me easy to use devices and applications, which saves me time and money.

I read a lot about Apple to learn about their strategy and execution of their business. Especially the “wow” factor is something which I really like. Every customer is supposed to have a feeling of “wow” when experiencing Apple.

But wow can also be a negative wow! And I am sure that Apple knows this, but they doesn’t seem to take care of.

This week I had a negative wow experience. After messages on my iPhone that “a cable isn’t supported”, my iPhone decided that it won’t charge anymore!

Unfortunately I discovered this when my battery was 20% charged and I had immediately to decide what to do. My choice was backing up and after backing up, 8% was left.

Next day I went to Singtel, which is the reseller of my iPhone. They couldn’t help me and sent the iPhone to Apple for research.

As I need a phone, I asked for a spare one, which they don’t offer. The option they gave, was to deposit S$ 831 for a new iPhone. This deposit is required to ensure that if Apple decides that my iPhone cannot repaired anymore, they get paid for this new iPhone.

But, I already paid for an iPhone as this is included in my subscription! And as Apple will not return my old iPhone, there is a chance that I have to pay twice for 1 iPhone. WOW!

Using Apple’s ecosystem has its’ advantages. But with my latest experience, I have a very bad feeling as you are locked in.

Summary: I fully understand that they want to get paid for a device, but it’s not acceptable that my problem (which turned out to be a general problem*) is kept secret by Apple. Give me any background of the problem and ensure that I leave the shop with a positive wow effect. Even if it’s a reseller. Apple should take more care about resellers as they take a major part in negative (shared!) reviews.

Advice: Apple should take care about the resellers’ customers and oblige resellers to use a feedback system. Only then they can control the wow effect of every customer and turn negative experience into a positive experience. Wow will be wow again as it’s supposed to be!


*I joined an Apple forum discussion regarding this problem and noticed that this is a general problem. ( These are the first reactions on my post:

Apple Forum Discussion
Apple forum discussion