As we speak, all over Holland little kids are getting nervous. Because tonight, December 5, is Sinterklaas and the infamous “Gift Evening” when Sint & his helper Piet leave a big, burlap bag stuffed with presents on doorsteps of good little girls & boys.

Parents are nervous, too. They’re writing witty poems (part of the tradition) and they’re busy helping Sinterklaas & Piet get that big burlap bag ready. But what if one of the gifts they ordered on-line doesn’t arrive in time?

Apology email from bol.com, including link to a poem and a 5 euro voucher.

Online retailer Bol.com (the Amazon of Holland) took time to prepare for this disappointment. After all, what retailer gets 100% on time delivery at Christmas? Bol.com realizes that on key dates like Sinterklaas or Christmas this is a major, emotional big deal.

So instead of a generic mail saying we’re sorry, Bol.com sends a mail that

  • is from the Geneeral Manager (not just customer service)
  • recognizes the emotional issue that the delay causes in this instance
  • offers a 5 euro promo code as an apology, and…
  • offers a customizable poem from Sinterklaas that the shopper can give to the recipient to explain why the package isn’t there on time.

All this shows that Bol.com understands their customers’ needs at a moment of disappointment in the service, and pro-actively acts on them. The only thing missing, which really should be there, is the option to cancel the order. After all, the poem is a nice idea, but to a 9 year old girl that pink piece of paper just doesn’t cut it when what she really wanted was Lego Technics.

Fijne Sint allemaal!

The poem from Sint that shoppers can download to explain why the gift isn’t there on December 5.