DFE Pharma is a market leading excipient supplier with a rich history. The roots of DFE go back to dairy producers in both the Netherlands and New Zealand. DFE Pharma develops and produces leading excipient solutions that serve their customers in the pharmaceutical industry. DFE’s global portfolio includes a wide range of excipient products and services for oral solid dose and dry powder inhalation formulations.

From excipient supplier to a service partner

To further strengthen DFE’s expert positioning and add value to their existing products, DFE has launched a program that works on a service business model. Next to today’s product portfolio, DFE will launch a service proposition that focuses on providing their pharmaceutical customers with consulting services on formulation and production challenges. This new service proposition is supported by the launch of a laboratory in India.

Customer journeys linked to capabilities to ensure success

DFE is in the process of preparing their organization for selling and delivering services, which requires new ways of working. This is a change for DFE internally, but it also requires a different approach towards customers. To detail this approach, DFE Pharma asked BearingPoint for guidance in the design of the future customer experience.

As a starting point for the target customer experience, the business model canvas of the new service offering was used. In the business model canvas, DFE documented their ambitions and target customer interactions. Using this as a starting point guided the thought process on how DFE would differentiate themselves towards their customers.

BearingPoint’s approach included 4 key elements:

  • Detailing the personas representing the key customer groups in the new business model
  • Creating the customer journeys for these personas
  • Specifying the capabilities required to deliver the journeys
  • Setting up a marketing toolbox to support the launch and delivery of the new business model


BearingPoint worked closely together with the DFE team. As Cas Wiebinga, DFE’s customer experience manager, explains:

BearingPoint managed to truly support our team and get everyone involved in the overall customer experience thinking.

Cas Wiebinga, Customer Experience Manager, DFE Pharma

The customer personas and journeys were co-created through a series of virtual workshops, involving both DFE’s leadership and local client-facing experts. We have used digital brainstorming approaches and tools to enable capturing the complexity of the discussions. The final customer journeys are truly omnichannel, covering 11 online and offline channels that will be relevant for the customer in the future.

To ensure that the customer journeys meet the needs of DFE’s customers, a selection of representative customers have been interviewed by BearingPoint to validate the personas and journeys. These customers were able to confirm and enrich the characteristics and requirements mentioned by the DFE team in the persona and customer journey workshops.

To translate the future customer journeys to something that can be implemented, we used the concept of capabilities. A capability is something a business is able to do and consists of four elements: people, process, technology, and data. They highlight what needs to be embedded within DFE’s organization to deliver a strong customer experience. By translating the customer journeys to capabilities and a marketing toolbox, we have ensured that the journeys become actionable. As mentioned by a DFE team member: “The capabilities and marketing toolbox make it really tangible and clear what needs to be done.”

This is confirmed by Cas Wiebinga, who explains:

Unfortunately, many consulting reports end up in the desk drawer. BearingPoint delivered a toolbox that can be used by our teams to build upon in their work, providing them with a roadmap to work with. We can use it as a way to nurture the way of thinking around customer experience within DFE Pharma.

Cas Wiebinga, Customer Experience Manager, DFE Pharma

Way forward

As a result of our project, the DFE team has integrated our recommendations in the different streams of their transformation program. The customer journeys will be used to educate and inspire the broader organization on how the new service portfolio will work in practice, and where differentiating moments can be created for customers.

BearingPoint was the accelerator for a new phase, while letting DFE remain the owner. They did this by bringing in a structured and well-thought out approach. BearingPoint combined their expertise with a skilled team that was able to draw knowledge from our experts, which allowed us to take big steps in a short timeframe.

Cas Wiebinga, Customer Experience Manager, DFE Pharma

The marketing team will integrate elements of the marketing toolbox in their plan for launch, taking into consideration the preferences of each target group (based on the personas). As BearingPoint, we continue to work with DFE on customer journeys for other product segments and on integrating our proposed capabilities, for example in CRM.

Overall, this project forms the basis for the creation of a strong customer experience that will determine the success of DFE’s new business model, preparing them for future growth.