vanHaren celebrates success with Honestly’s tailor-made software solution

Ronnie Zijlmans has been Sales Manager at vanHaren since the beginning of 2016 and has a vast 25 years of experience in retail. As a footwear retailer, vanHaren relies on feedback from its customers. Although the company realized this early on, they faced several challenges in implementing a feedback system.


  • vanHaren’s many store locations make customer feedback a strategic advantage.
  • Before working with Honestly, vanHaren had already used its own solution for managing customer feedback; however, it was counterintuitive and not easy to use.
  • With Honestly, vanHaren has found a solution that is not only user-friendly, but is also capable of making individual adjustments specifically for the client.
  • By having Honestly devise a unique system just for them, vanHaren is able to send the results directly to their checkouts each week
  • Finally, Honestly’s outstanding, quick client support team has also done an amazing job.
  • Equipped with the functions provided by Honestly, vanHaren has been able to produce more satisfied customers and with that, generate higher conversions.
  • vanHaren has seen other important benefits, including internal awareness of customer feedback and a real-time NPS score for making strategic decisions.
About vanHaren

VanHaren was founded in 1929 by Ivo van Haren in Rotterdam. Since then, the shoe business has prevailed on the Dutch market. In 1985 the company was taken over by the Deichmann Group. There are now 144 vanHaren stores in Holland and 5 in Belgium, employing 1,400 people. As a Dutch subsidiary of the Deichmann Group, which generated annual sales of € 5.6 billion in 2016, vanHaren fully covers one of 26 European countries where the group is active.

Honestly managed to find and implement new solutions to the challenges we were facing. They were able to provide us with personalized service and developed software specially adapted to our needs.
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Ronnie Zijlmans Sales Manager at vanHarenr vanHaren

The problem and the desire for a solution

Mr. Zijlmans makes it clear from the start just how important customer feedback is to him and to vanHaren:

“As a retailer with so many store locations, it’s very important to gather customer feedback. We’re always thinking about things ‘from the outside in’ – that is, we want to know what our customers think. Their opinion is important to us. The more feedback we receive, the better our company can respond to it. But the next step for us as a company is also tremendously important: to not just gather the feedback, but to display it in such a way that we can work with it.”

This was precisely the problem. Before working with Honestly, vanHaren had already used another feedback solution. This was also an online service, but it was so complicated to use that the company was unable to achieve their desired outcome. The program wasn’t very user-friendly, and it didn’t offer many of the functions that vanHaren considered important:

“The user rights were also cumbersome. And the real-time results weren’t visible to all employees at all times. In order to view them, the store manager always had to log in, and that alone was seen as a huge barrier.”

On top of that, communication with the company was awkward, which made collaboration difficult.

Decision-making process and implementation

After their sobering experience working with another feedback product, vanHaren needed a partner that was a better fit for them:

“We were on the lookout for a better solution. The criteria that were most important to us in choosing our new partner were communication and cooperation, promptness, flexibility, transparency, and obviously, user-friendliness.”

Honestly was recommended to vanHaren by their parent company, Deichmann, and it wasn’t long before the two companies were in contact with one another:

“Honestly is such a young, dynamic company, and we were looking for a smaller partner so we’d be able to work together more efficiently. After meeting just once, it was clear to us that Honestly was the right partner for us. From that point on, everything ran smoothly. We met a few more times, defined our goals and challenges, and got right to work. It was a very pleasant experience.”

In dealing with this issue, Honestly really came through for us. They developed a tailor-made system just for us that sends the results directly to our checkouts each week.
– Ronnie Zijlmans

As early as the very first meeting, they discussed the concrete demands that vanHaren would be making of their new feedback partner. Honestly fulfilled almost all of them straight away. There was still one challenge yet to be overcome, however:

“The greatest challenge for us was trying to find out how to get the customer feedback and reports to our stores each week. It’s not like all the stores have computers in the sense that you can just shoot a quick email to them. Without these weekly feedback reports, the team is unable to respond to criticism and use it to deal with customers. So it was incredibly important for us to be able to solve this problem. In dealing with this issue, Honestly really came through for us. They developed a tailor-made system just for us that sends the results directly to our checkouts each week. Therefore, by integrating Honestly into our checkout system, we were able to successfully master this challenge together.”

After even this obstacle had been overcome, there was nothing left standing in the way of implementing the feedback system.

“From the very beginning, the experience of working together was outstanding. No time was wasted getting to work, and the whole process ran quickly and efficiently. Our needs were addressed the entire time. When you look at how it took just three months to go through the whole process and implement it, from initial contact to going live, it was really fast. One reason for this was that we had well-defined goals.

The solution in action

In barely half a year we’ve collected 7,500 feedback reports!
– Ronnie Zijlmans

vanHaren doesn’t use feedback terminals, collecting customer feedback exclusively through QR codes or URL links instead. These codes come in the form of flyers laid out near the checkout counter that customers can pick up at any time. The customers can then use the codes to log in online and fill out the survey devised by vanHaren. These flyers are also distributed actively; two to three times a year, vanHaren holds what they call “Focus Weeks”, where employees actively encourage customers to give feedback via Honestly:

“Needless to say, during these weeks, there’s a rapid increase in the amount of feedback we collect. But even outside of our Focus Weeks, we’ve been getting a constant stream of feedback. Of course, this is also tremendously important for us – to have a constant stream of data that we can work with. In barely half a year we’ve collected 7,500 feedback reports. We’re extremely satisfied with this number!”

In the meantime, roughly 200 employees at all levels within vanHaren’s company hierarchy are working with Honestly: the sales manager (Mr. Zijlmans himself), the regional managers, district managers, and of course, the store managers. This is only possible thanks to the individualized solution Honestly has integrated into vanHaren’s checkout system, which sends weekly reports to the individual stores.


For us, Honestly is clearly a partner that has positively met all of our needs and one with whom we’ve been able to make our goals a reality.
– Ronnie Zijlmans

Using Honestly has reaped enormous benefits for vanHaren, which Mr. Zijlmans is particularly glad to discuss.

1. The collection of feedback and the resulting higher conversions:

“The collection of customer feedback alone represents a huge benefit for us as a company. Everyone talks about service and every company thinks they know best how to provide the best service. But let’s go ahead and talk to the customers and see if they see things the same way. We believe the customer is always right, and it’s really important for us to know how they feel about us. It also makes us so much better at responding to the customer’s wishes, comments, and suggestions. Satisfied customers lead to higher conversions, which is, of course, ultimately another important goal for our company.”

2. Creating awareness within the company:

“A second important issue is raising awareness at our stores and among our team members. Thanks to the weekly feedback coming in, which might also have something specific to say about the management of the team at the local store, the employees are constantly made aware of the subject of customer feedback. They see what our customers are saying about us and how they feel about certain things. This also encourages our employees to think about these issues and increases their awareness of what good service is.”

3. Real-time NPS score allows for agility in the company strategy:

“And don’t forget the aggregate NPS score, which Honestly shows us in real time. For us, the management team in particular, this is an extremely important and useful indicator. We’re able to quickly analyze how a strategy or how individual actions are received by our customers and respond immediately. We also get to see how our NPS is evolving over the course of time and are able to analyze it to see if it’s staying the same, getting better, or getting worse.”

4. Collecting information:

“A fourth non-negligible benefit of this system is that it allows us to collect information such as email addresses, etc. This is something that’s not unimportant nowadays, and Honestly makes it easier to do.”

One thing in particular that I’d still like to comment on is the extraordinary communication. It’s always good, quick, and flexible – and at any time of day, even on weekends. I really like that a lot, and it’s also something I expect from a partner.
– Ronnie Zijlmans

Since introducing Honestly’s system, vanHaren’s NPS scores has improved significantly! The company is also beginning to see how the welcoming atmosphere that customers sense has increased significantly. Thanks to Honestly, the company is a lot better at catering to its customers, and also understands them better.

Mr. Zijlmans is very happy that his company has made the change to Honestly and would definitely recommend the product to other companies.

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