"Branddoctors has taken us into the agile mindset"

Heineken: From brewer to service provider

Everyone knows Heineken. The Dutch beer brand is served all over the world and is praised for its communication and advertising. And with such a strong brand image you create high expectations. Also in the hospitality industry.

Updated: November 2022

This project takes place in 2019 and 2020, before the outbreak of Corona. The pandemic had a major impact on the hospitality industry, including Heineken. It was precisely during that period that breweries showed their best side as service providers, with initiatives such as 'Help de Horeca'. We should ask the hospitality industry itself whether that has been successful, but it has in any case made it clear that equality and cooperation are part of the relationship between supplier and customer.

The service model under pressure

We now know that competition no longer only has to come from your own sector. We have already seen enough disruptive innovations in recent decades for that.

“We have never seen our services as our core business. And it didn't have to be long enough. Our customers wanted our beer, so that was our focus. But today that is not enough. Your brand, your products and your services must be completely in line with each other.

But it is not only (potential) new players why it is important to keep a close eye on other sectors, Heineken Netherlands also knows. They saw how the service level in other markets had improved extremely in recent years, while Heineken had mainly implemented small optimisations. And that ultimately put pressure on their service model.

Lean on account managers

In recent years, little had changed in the service that Heineken Netherlands provides to its catering customers. In 2019, the services still relied heavily on the use of account managers. And that went beyond a good customer relationship: Invoicing, rush orders, questions about deliveries and shortcomings: almost everything ran through this personal relationship. A shame, because you don't have to if you have your services in order.

Consistency is needed to deliver the perfect experience, everything has to convey the Heineken feeling. This means that all our people - from the account manager to the driver who comes to fill the beer tank - must not only understand what we as Heineken stand for, but also what we can and want to do for our customers. ”


In 2019, we formed an agile team together with Heineken Netherlands with the aim of innovating services in a customer-oriented way.

The question eight raising the question, that's what it was all about. I was really surprised about that: I talk to customers every day, but I couldn't put my finger on the sore spot. Branddoctors was able to make a very sharp analysis of the customer's needs in a short period of time.

Sharp customer insights were essential to be able to set up the service in a truly valuable way. In addition, we have the customer journey mapped. That is already valuable for understanding how and when you can be most valuable to your customers, but in this case we also used the customer journey to prioritize all desired innovations and optimisations. The moments where the urgency of change was highest were placed high on the backlog, so that the team could get started quickly. Moreover, the customer journey also gave us insight into a number of great opportunities to really take the service to a higher level.

My Business app

A number of processes are very important within the customer journey of the hospitality customer, because they are often repeated and/or have a major impact on the running of a hospitality business. Creating a user-friendly and clear app to place orders and bring together the (financial) administration was an essential step, but also a complex task.

By engaging customers right away with the question they needed most, an MVP could be worked on quickly and efficiently. While the app was being developed, other members of the team worked on making all information and data available and usable. After about a year, the MVP was tested with a first group of customers, after which it was scaled up in steps while continuing to implement points for improvement. Meanwhile the My Business app further developed by Heineken Netherlands into a mature ordering platform.


In addition to developing the app, many large and small results have been achieved:

  • 'My World Business' positioning and customer strategy
  • Reorganization and design of a CX team, in close cooperation with the sales organization
  • Agile and customer-oriented innovation is a standard way of working
  • Digital-first mindset
  • Renewed touchpoint, such as all contracts, external communication

This article is based on an interview with Merijn Goris, project leader Heineken Netherlands, has been working for another employer since 2021.


Published on
1 October 2019

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