Dutch Quirk #27: Have almost zero customer service skills

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #27: Have almost zero customer service skills

The Dutch are bad at many things: decent lunches, biking safely, and building staircases you can climb without breaking your neck. Another thing? The Dutch are capital-T terrible at customer service. 😤

Or, as the Dutch call it: belabberde service (lousy service). No customer is wearing the crown in any Dutch establishment, that’s for sure. 👑

What is it?

Don’t get us wrong, it’s not that the Dutch are rude or inconsiderate (for the most part). Dutch customer service is simply more egalitarian than you might be used to.

Customer service is not so much about the customer, it’s about the service provider showing up and getting the job done.

That is to say, they can serve your coffee with or without a smile as long as the coffee is served. ☕️

Here are some bad Dutch customer service scenarios that are not all that uncommon:

  • The waiter or waitress is shamelessly on their phone or chatting with their colleagues until they sluggishly come to your service.
  • You’re asking for the tiniest convenience, such as an extra bagel-topping or chair for your table, and you’ll get the Nee, dat kan helaas niet (No, that doesn’t work) response for no apparent reason.
  • You want to have a nice chat with the barista but they are clearly having a bad day and don’t feel called to make an effort to conceal it for your benefit.

Why do they do it?

The particularities of Dutch customer service speak to some known cultural quirks.

For one, the Dutch are known for their non-hierarchical work culture. There is no significant difference between the waitress and her manager.

At the same time, there are no expectations for the waitress to be kissing the customer’s boots either.

READ MORE | Working in customer service in the Netherlands

Then, of course, there is the (in)famous Dutch directness. No topic is taboo, and it is socially acceptable for everyone to say what they want at any time.

Of course, you can complain to the waiter. But he can also tell you to beat it if he feels that’s appropriate. 💁

Why is it quirky? 

Especially in contrast to other countries where the ‘customer is king’, Dutch customer service can come across as especially rude and inconsiderate.

For the HORECA workers, Dutch customer service is a dream because you don’t have to bend over backwards and fake a smile for eight hours at a time.

READ MORE | Dinner in the Netherlands: traditions, dishes and restaurants

Dutch customers are mostly used to the egalitarian service and don’t bother or expect special treatment.

International customers, however, might leave an angry Tripadvisor review or two to make room for their indignation.

Should you join in? 

Well, we guess you have to simply accept the fact that everyone’s a king in the Netherlands. 🤷

But don’t be afraid to speak up if things are getting too rude. Just because the Dutch are used to the absolute minimum of customer service doesn’t mean you have to be. 💅🏻

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Cara Räker 🇩🇪
Cara Räker 🇩🇪
Cara moved to the Netherlands at fifteen and she is here to stay! After all, there is so much to love about it, except maybe the bread (as every German will tell you). Next to finishing up her bachelor's degree in European politics (dry), Cara loves to do yoga, swim, and cook delicious veggie food.
  1. I think for the high prices of the drinks and food they could do a better job in general…I don’t need conversation or smiles, but they are slow and they don’t come to your table when you need them in general, so at the end is exhausting to call for their attention…is a bit of an absurd situation when seen from the client point of view…

  2. I don’t expect special treatment, but a decent behavior, just as it is expected from me. The “I I don’t give a fuck about anything” attitude makes the Dutch come over infantile and unprofessional. No matter what the issue is, nobody will care.
    Mistakes won’t be admitted, the customer is always on the losing end if he has to deal with customer service on the Netherlands.

  3. The servers are not going out of their way,omdat ze niet working for a tip. Dus dat is niet nodig !

  4. Your article is spot on. However, go North and your mouth will drop open at the friendliness and customer service. I did a few sport events in Hoorn, Almere etc and I could not believe the difference when visiting a cafe or restaurant.


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