Responsibility on all levels
Responsibility is the theme of CXPA Finland this year. How does it fit into context of customer and employee experience? These themes were discussed on August 22nd in CXPA Finland Summer Party that LocalTapiola was happy to host.
As I was welcoming CXPA Finland Summer Party guests to Tiirasaari last Thursday, I mentioned that LocalTapiola is happy to host the event exactly this year: Responsibility, as well as both customer and employee experience, are key elements of our strategy and high on our agenda.
Why so? Our CMO Olli-Pekka Pohjanmäki explained this in more detail in his opening presentation: As a mutual company, responsibility is in many ways in the core of who we are. However, responsibility is not only our legacy, it is also our present and future as well – when we ask from our customers their expectations towards us, one clear answer is the expectation to act in a responsible manner. This is the case in other industries as well: consumers and decision-makers are expecting responsible investing, sustainable production, and being a good corporate citizen. As Sir Ronald Cohen put it in an interview in August 2018 (the article is in Finnish): “I believe that in 5-10 years any serious company or investor cannot afford to say that they are in the business only to make money”.
What else do our customers want? In our case, when we have examined the reasons why customers choose us and stay with us, we have found four key things:
Authentic feeling of being cared for, personal touch in customer service, rewarding customer relationship and trust, which is heavily affected by responsible actions. Responsibility is a way to build trust – and brand.
Building sustainable services together with customers
The combination of responsibility and listening to customers was also the key message from Tarja Jääskeläinen from Helsinki Region Transport (HRT). The aim of developing more sustainable ways to travel was the starting point when HRT started to develop the city bike concept. The “how” part was developed closely together with potential customers: Where should the city bike stations be located so that your everyday commute (or other need for cycling) would be as smooth as possible? What additional services would make planning and making your travel with city bike even easier? What should the bikes be like so that the cycling experience would be as pleasant as possible? What should be improved?
Fulfilling the need, being easy and pleasant to use and continuously listening to customers – all basic elements of customer experience. A fascinating example of combining great customer experience to a sustainable objective.
When traditional methods are not enough
What if the traditional methods for asking the customers do not work? This was the case in Rinnekoti, Finland’s largest provider of services to intellectually disabled persons. CEO Anu Kallio explained how Rinnekoti wanted to understand its customers better, and realized quickly that it has to be done by simultaneously studying also employee experience: Customer experience is built in the interactions between customers and your employees – and when the collaboration between them is as intense as it is in the case of Rinnekoti and likes, employee experience cannot be neglected. Rinnekoti studied the customer and employee experience with a unique combination of daily journals, interviews and Moodmetric smart ring and application. Even though I admit to being a bit attached to new technologies, what I loved most in Anu’s presentation was the results: concrete, down-to-earth actions to improve the living and working environment for both customers AND employees.
What are responsible employee experiences?
Our day continued by digging deeper into employee experience in the context of responsibility: what actually is responsible employee experience? Paula Helle from Workday Designers guided us to think beyond snack bars, exercise and culture benefits, and employee satisfaction surveys. Jacob Morgan defines employee experience as a combination of the cultural environment, technological environment and physical environment. Most often organizations focus on the cultural environment, i.e. leadership, compensation, benefits, organizational structure – all very important, but only one-third of the experience. Like Jacob Morgan, also Paula challenged us to think employee experience in a more holistic way – and to develop it in a human-centric way, by utilizing design thinking approach and methodologies. Responsible employee experience is taking a human as the starting point for all development. Couldn’t agree more.
Get on the same level with your customers
Little boy sitting on a football and the coach crouched beside him to have a chat. This picture and the message it conveyed was my absolute favourite: the importance of the first encounter. The coach in the picture did something very brilliant but at the same time very easy: she positioned herself on the same level as her player. If we take this approach to business life, the question is, how do we position us on the same level with our customers in the first (and second, and third, etc…) encounter: Do we use understandable terminology? Do we talk to a human – or to our computer? The presentation given by Timo Huttunen from Finnish Football Association gave me a lot to think about – football and business are not that far from each other when you view them on an individual level.
Responsibility is something that customers, in any industry, are asking and expecting more and more: to be considered a good corporate citizen and to able create great experiences for your customers, you are also expected to act in a sustainable manner. Responsibility is already today an integral part of brand and customer experience. Great experiences do not happen by accident, the people interacting with the customers every day create them. These people are also expecting to be heard and to get involved – to be treated in a responsible way. Great customer experience is an outcome of great employee experience. In the end, it all comes down to individual-level – experiences are created in interactions we have with our customers, team members or players.
Digging to a personal level: what gives YOU the energy to keep on creating great experiences to your customers or team members? During the Summer Party day, we also discussed e.g. about trail running, musical theatre and first-graders – smaller and bigger things in life that make you feel good and give you energy. This is where the experiences start from. Responsibility is also about taking care of your most valuable asset: yourself.
Teija Kuustonen is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and customer-oriented business leader who leads customer relationship development in LocalTapiola, host of CXPA Finland Summer Party 2019.