That doesn’t exist,” she texts me.
I’m preparing my CX Game™ workshop that I’m going to play with a potential partner in Helsinki. In the days leading up to it, I visit my friend Anouk, who has been living in Helsinki with her Finnish husband, Marko, for six years.
According to Anouk, there is no service in Finland. And she doesn’t say that without reason. Her experiences are based, in part, on receiving a chair without legs and a tabletop without a base.
It’s time to take a closer look at the service level in Finland. After all, I was there now.
What stood out to me in Finland:
- In cafes, self-service is the norm. It’s not mentioned anywhere. Your drink and food are brought to your table after you order, but you must fetch your utensils at the counter. Clearing tables is something you better do yourself, as they only do it when a new guest arrives. Full tables with dirty dishes don’t create a warm welcome.
- You rarely, if ever, hear “hello,” “thank you,” or “goodbye” when you enter or leave a place.
- A store employee asking if you need assistance is more the exception than the rule. Except in a store I walked into that sold dresses for 600 euros or more; then they made an effort 😉.
Finnish culture is highly inward-focused. Finns are very modest and oriented toward functionality rather than the emotional aspect of customer experience. This is also reflected in advertisements.
One of the questions in the CX Game™ that I asked was:
According to my Dutch friend, who has been living here for six years, service does not exist in Finland. Is she right? Why is that? And if she is wrong, which Finnish company with great service do you recommend to her? And why is their service excellent?
The five participants recognized Anouk’s and my experiences. Although, according to them, there are indeed good examples, such as Partioaitta, an outdoor store, and Alko, the only store where alcohol can be sold.
Little acts of kindness
I also noticed positive things. Small things that we don’t have in the Netherlands, but that contribute to a better customer experience.
- Refills of coffee and tea everywhere, and your second cup is free. This applies only to filter coffee that’s kept warm on a hot plate.
- Always having fresh TAP water available for self-service or a bottle placed on the table.
- A library with all kinds of printers (including large format and 3D), recording studios, sewing machines, guitars, and game rooms.
- The restroom stalls at the airport were much larger than at Schiphol, allowing you to fit all your luggage inside.
- The day pass for public transportation is valid for 24 hours from the moment of purchase, not just for the day of purchase.
- In apartment buildings, there are shared washing machines and a drying area. And of course, a sauna!
- A baby box for every new parent with everything needed for the first year, including a mattress. The box can even be used as a crib. It’s a gift that every pregnant woman in Finland receives from the government to give every baby the same start.
There is still hope!
In my hotel and in a dumpling restaurant, the customer experience was much better! Why was that? They were American and Australian chains…
There are plenty of CX consultants in Finland to teach companies to truly put the customer first. Hopefully, Finns who have worked or studied in other countries will bring that experience back home.
When we visited Anouk’s favorite coffee shop one morning, her coffee was already prepared. They saw us coming. And that’s what it’s all about!
Customer experience exists.
But you must be willing to see it. Often, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. By being open to them, you’ll find them. By giving compliments, the giver becomes aware of his customer-oriented behavior. And hopefully, they’ll display customer-focused behavior more often.
What if it possible?
Discovering and bringing Customer Experience to live
If you want to discover customer experience in a fun way, make promises come to life, and see how small things can make a big difference together with your team, contact Babs to discuss the possibilities of this CX Game™ workshop.
Babs Asselbergs is a Creative Changemaker and CX Activator. She brings customer experience to life in a creative and interactive way and activates teams to do even better for customers and have more fun for themselves. Along with Nienke Bloem, she is the founder of the CX Game™, one of the creative formats that Babs uses to work with teams and customer experience.