Sirte Pihlaja joins Customer Directors on Board advisors

The CEO of Shirute and CXPA Finland LNE Head Sirte Pihlaja has been asked to join the CX advisors at Customer Directors On Board. This group consists of Customer Experience experts, who want to develop customer thinking in the strategic decision making of companies and other organisations.

CXPA Finland is also participating in the study of Customer Advocates on Board project, which makes a current state analysis of management and board practices from the perspective of customer thinking. The goal is to help the Finnish businesses start on a journey to deeper customer-centricity, and goal-oriented utilisation of customer insight. To support this target, the network of customer experience professionals CXPA Finland will organise special events for board members on customer experience. These events will take place during this fall.

Shirute introduces a new wave of omni-channel marketing

The new customer experience solution puts the consumer in the driver’s seat by combining context-based customer communications with Voice of Customer

Customer experience agency Shirute has partnered with its network of experts to unite real-time customer experience monitoring and context-based marketing and service communications. The omni-channel marketing solution reaches regular customers and random shoppers visiting a store in a novel, engaging and inspiring fashion.

The service concept introduced by Shirute revolutionizes brick-and-mortar sales, because it takes into account and affects the whole customer life cycle of today’s omni-channel consumer.

“Retailers often get information on their customers only after they’ve made their purchase and left the store. Most customers, however, begin their journey with the brand online long before they arrive in the shop. Consumers expect that the company knows them and utilizes all the information they have collected about the shopper in their various touch points. But only a select few brands design store experiences based on real customer understanding. We solve this problem, and enable the store personnel to become their customers’ trusted expert friends. And the digital store assistant serves the customer even when all the store personnel are involved with other customers. People don’t need to wait in line anymore to be served”, explains CEO Sirte Pihlaja from Shirute.

”It’s a true 360. We provide retailers with the unique opportunity to fit their sales and marketing efforts to react differently to each customer, moment and location. We also collect customer insight and feedback regarding these encounters. If needed, we can integrate stock information, logistics and mobile payments, too. The whole journey is designed from the customer viewpoint, i.e. what kind of a shopping experience they want. Such a revolutionary, customer-oriented and all-encompassing solution has not yet been available on the market. Experiments so far have been grounded on a tech perspective.”

Intelligent customer encounters and efficient analysis

The service helps the customer by displaying informative messages on her smartphone carefully crafted along the customer journey: as she enters the store, while in-store, and when leaving the premises. These messages can be targeted and tailored based on customer preferences and purchase history. In addition, the published content can be different depending on the time and day. They can be varied on a campaign, store, and product level.

The solution consists of a survey tool, content management system, mobile application and beacon technology that have been combined to provide a seamless customer experience. Advanced analytics let the storekeeper analyze customer paths and reactions to the mobile content released in the store context. Furthermore, the shopping experience developers can monitor and analyze the real-time feedback provided by customers in a visual reporting environment, and distribute the insights to the organization at large. Reporting can be automated, and business rules defined to delegate the needed actions automatically.

”We are excited about this joint offering. It makes the customer experience of the future possible by presenting the customer as an equal influencer in the decision-making and the development of service processes of the business. As a result, companies can provide better customer experiences and increase the motivation of their personnel. Businesses enjoy healthy growth, as they become more efficient and profitable”, describes Experq CEO Olli-Kristian Tukonen.

“The great thing about this solution is that it works equally well at sports arenas, shopping malls, travel destinations, fairs and museums. We are currently looking into pilots in different industries. The key to success is that the customer journey has been researched and identified well. That helps us to make the concept as fitted to the target group needs as possible. The concept works especially well for reaching regular customers”, Pihlaja reminds.


Shirute introduces the new solution concept at the Slush event on Thursday Nov 12th at 11-12 at the Aalto University stand (B3 Hall 6-7) together with two case examples (Moomin World, Rovio Angry Birds concept store) developed by Liki Solutions.

Shirute is a creative, competent and enthusiastic customer experience agency delivering business excellence to systematically plan, create, manage and measure engaging customer experiences in all customer interaction channels. Our Customer Experience Path® offering can be applied to developing cross-channel customer experiences across different industries. We are a founding member of the international Customer Experience Professionals Association.

Liki Solutions helps clients understand the constantly changing digital field and the goals involved in making it in the digital world. Our expertise is available to you when you are planning and implementing your business strategies and solutions, and want to transform your needs into measurable solutions. 

Experq gathers, analyzes and uses information from the customers of service-oriented companies to produce material for operational efficiency, strategic decision-making and internal and external marketing. Our Mirror-software automatically collects huge amounts of feedback and turns it instantly into actionable information on all levels of your organization.



Additional information: CEO Sirte Pihlaja, Shirute, gsm (050) 5700 190

3 must-haves to make CX fly

Lessons from the Flying Finns

At the CXPA European Insight Exchange, I was honoured to be recognized with the CXPA Extra Mile Award for the dedication to furthering Customer Experience competence. Why is CX and CXPA such a big thing in Finland? Three key drivers explain our success.

It was the first time that this award was granted in Europe. What made me respect this prize even more, was receiving it along with Ian Golding, a CX legend. But the award really belongs to the people who made our events fly, the Finnish CX community.

The Customer Experience Professionals Association ( organized its first all-European meeting for CX experts in London at the end of March. The seminar was packed with lively chatter of all things CX both during and between the sessions. The best part of the Insight Exchange was, for many, the roundtable presentations and conversations during the networking parts.

It was really interesting to hear so many new thoughts and opinions on the subject that we all hold so dear. We also seem to share many of the challenges, even though some organisations and countries are more advanced than others. For this very reason, I find it extremely important that events such as this are organized, so that people can meet and learn and get inspiration from each other. When you pack a room full of CX enthusiasts, everyone is sure to bring great ideas back home.

The keynote speech by Johanna Jäkälä, VP Brand, Marketing & Customer Loyalty from Finnair, sure made ideas fly. She described how the Helsinki-based airline builds unique Nordic flying experiences through data-driven service design. The approach has been a great success, and it shows even on the company’s stock price: it has recently skyrocketed to a totally new level. Listening to customers has truly paid off for Finnair.


Why is CX(PA) such a big thing in Finland?

Several fellow CX professionals attending the event all asked me the same question: why is Customer Experience and CXPA such a big thing in Finland?

So why is it? I must admit I hadn’t really stopped to think about that myself, too busy seeing after that our local events come to life.  But it was a really good point, which made me want to analyse the success we’ve enjoyed during the past 3 years. How come there is so much buzz about CX in our country? And what is it that we do to draw so many people to each event?

On the 5th anniversary of the CXPA organisation, it is a perfect time to reflect on the past to be able to plan for the future. Three key elements come to my mind, when I analyse how we made CX fly in Finland. Each of them can be applied whenever you are trying to develop your CX:

1. It all boils down to purpose, and what really matters to you.

When you are passionate about CX, it shows. Furthermore, that can-do attitude and mindset trickles down to everything you do. Ever since I was invited as a Founding Member to Boston, where CX professionals met in 2010, under the idea that was to become the CXPA, I’d been eagerly waiting for the go-ahead to launch our local CX activities in my home country.

Finally, in 2013, we launched CXPA Finland ( together with Ilona Kousa. CXPA Finland was introduced on the CX Day, celebrated globally in all CXPA member countries ( At that time, we were still what you would call CX evangelists, and filling up an auditorium with like-minded people was considered a mega-success. Best of all, the attendees thought likewise of their event experience. The reputation has stuck with us.

Our idea and purpose for building up CXPA in Finland was to share the ends and means needed to create great customer experiences. We wanted to share this knowledge with everyone in customer related jobs, so that they could develop their competences to better serve their customers, and differentiate through CX.

One of our initial goals was  - and still is – nothing less than helping bring Finland out of the economic slump, with a little help from our friends in CX. I truly believe that to change the culture, you need a compelling purpose that you believe in. We sure had one at hand, and wanted to spread the idea.

2. Do it so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.

CXPA Finland has been attracting people ever since with wonderful speakers and well-organised events. This has resulted in participants recommending us to their friends and colleagues, and a very engaged crowd, who really wants to meet and learn from each other.

This seems to be also a more general contemporary phenomenon, and it plays to our advantage: Finns want to meet in real life events, not just in the digital realm. They want to experience and meet to get inspired and energized. And what better way to do that than spend this time with CX colleagues, who yearn to hear more and share their own stories. When the setting is just right, people will be ready to rock together. And they will come back for more.

3. Take time to measure and evolve.

Our continued success is, to a large extent, based on us practicing what we preach. We have been measuring the CX of our events ever since the beginning, many times even in real-time. We have also done our best to act on the feedback we have received.

For example, we are now looking into organising new types of CXPA gatherings, so we can support the often-articulated need to network more. This constant evolving of our events is really important to us, but some of the things we would love to do take time to put into practice, and money of course.

We are now at a crossroads. We want to take the CXPA in Finland to the next level, and maybe help CXPA develop internationally, while we are at it. Therefore, we are looking for new people to our team to help develop this community, and need partners to help us grow. We have also re-structured our team roles, and are looking forward to realizing many new things we have planned for this year.

When we put our hearts to it, who knows, the buzz in Finland may be heard all over the world.


Sirte Pihlaja is the CEO, Customer Experience Optimiser of the first customer experience agency in Finland. She is also heading the activities of the international Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) in Finland. In Shirute, Sirte helps her clients to create great customer experiences through creative ways.

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Additional information:

Head of CXPA Finland Sirte Pihlaja, tel. (050) 5700 190

The Digital Store Assistant helps your customers to buy and to stay longer with your services

Ahoy marketing people, it’s time for you to get ready for something new: the competition on customers’ attention has moved to totally new channels and enjoys a renewed zest. The Internet of Things (IoT) a.k.a. the Industrial Internet brings forth new business opportunities in various industries. For marketing, it means that customer encounters can be much smarter than before.

When you last visited the hardware store, did you spend more time on trying to find a free sales guy (or any sales guy for that matter) than taking care of your actual need? Were you disappointed, when you went to your favourite clothes store with high hopes and having shared your whole life with the company online, only to find out that none of the sales personnel offline knew anything about your preferences, nor the latest garment you bought on their eCommerce site? Does it disturb you when you go to a shop, and learn that the sales crew knows less about the products and services they are offering than you do yourself? Do you have trouble finding what you came to look for?

Sound familiar? Many customers know already when entering a store, what they have come to look for. Others would like to be inspired and get new ideas. Quite a few are shopping with the very intention to buy something. However, when you are in a shop, it often feels that no one wants to help you spend your money. We can only guess at how many euros are left in shoppers’ pockets, because they are met with such indifference. A major growth in additional sales could well be within easy reach, if companies understood better their customers’ motives and would serve them in a more personalised fashion.

This could all be changed. The Internet of Marketers enables a truly modern, real-time channel to support sales. A Digital Store Assistant can be built upon the smartphone or a keychain in the pocket of the shopper, a tablet used by the store personnel in a customer encounter, or even a smart sticker on the back of a product, launching a promotional video on a digital screen, as the customer takes a closer look at it.

The ability that all of these media have in common, is that - together with the right application - they can be used to understand, which customer moves where and what she may be interested in. Based on this information, they can help her by delivering contextual information, taking into account her own motivations and preferences, to support purchasing decisions. Moreover, the digital store assistant is always equally ready to help everyone who enters the store (no queuing), and she doesn’t suffer ”bad days” that affect the level of customer service. All of this happens, naturally, only with the customer’s consent, so they don’t feel pushy either.

Small investment, big commercial benefits

These cheap small devices, so-called beacons, enable real-time marketing, when installed into a physical space. They identify the phone or other compatible device in the customer’s purse and send to it – or any other device connected to the ecosystem – marketing content that can be either pre-planned or customised on-the-fly. These messages can be product information, videos, coupons, promotions, and various other triggers, depending on the distance, position and timing. The aim is to provide relevant content that speaks to the customer and entices her to buy either right away or on her next visit.

In the USA, real-time marketing has been about for a while now. Big retailers, shopping malls and e.g. ballparks have been running their respective pilots. The market is now ready to move on from the trial period of in-context marketing to full-blown commercialization, and the results seem promising.

According to a survey published in October, 57% of US smartphone owners know what beacons are and what they are used for. A fifth had already been enjoying them while shopping. BI Intelligence estimates that between years 2015 and 2016, the value of US in-store retail sales influenced by beacon-triggered messages will explode by nearly 1 000 %: from 4 billion euros to 43,25 billion euros (from $4,1 billion to $44,4 billion). 

Take charge of your customer’s journey

The benefits and uses of real-time marketing messages are not limited to in-store sales: they can be used for example to gamify different events and offer visitors in sports arenas, museums, amusement parks, hotels, restaurants and travellers with exciting, important and timely information along their customer journey.

Best of all, if and when companies combine real-time marketing with Voice of Customer practices, i.e. genuine listening to the customer at the right time in their purchasing process, they can be sure to win the hearts of their customers.

Are you already helping your customers to buy and stay longer? Have you offered to make yourself a part of your loyal customers’ everyday, by making it easier and more stimulating? Would you like to serve better your new customers, in order to engage them to make another visit? Meet your customers on their own terms, and you will sell more before you know it.


Interested? Read more at and

Sirte Pihlaja is the CEO, Customer Experience Officer of the first customer experience agency in Finland. She also leads the activities of the international Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) in Finland. At Shirute, Sirte helps her client companies create great customer experiences with creative, well-proven methods – when she is not helping her own clients to engage with their customers.

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For more information:

CEO  Sirte Pihlaja, tel. +358 (0)50 5700 190

The well-being of employees is crucial for better customer experiences

An international certificate for customer experience management professionals

CXPA provides global recognition for your customer experience management competence. You can now become a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP). The content and availability requirements of this international certificate was introduced to the participants by Sirte Pihlaja, CEO, Customer Experience Optimiser from Shirute, who heads the activities of CXPA in Finland. During this fall, Shirute will start a new training program that supports your preparation for the certificate. The new certificate was published in CXPA Finland's spring meeting at Microsoft.

Sirte Pihlaja also told the audience about the fast growth of CXPA: the association has already 2 700 members from 68 countries. Membership is open to all customer experience management professionals. You can read more about CCXP and register as a member of CXPA at

The international Customer Experience Day will be celebrated again on Oct 7th, 2014. CXPA Finland will organise its next meeting to mark this date at the lates, so mark your calendars! We will invite all CXPA Finland newsletter subscribers personally. You can subscribe to our newsletter at

Companies need engaged personnel at the core of their customer service

Microsoft, the winner of last years customer experience management study, introduced the event participants to its way of work: how its CX concept is planned and how it works.

“The goal of Microsoft is to make people tell their friends about the brand: according to research, 89% of customers don't believe in brand messages.”Microsoft Finland's CEO Ari Rahkonen introduced us to this theme through his keynote speech "New way of work – Microsoft's journey". According to Rahkonen, Hänen mukaansa companies need engaged personnel at the core of their customer service. That is why his company tries to make people tell their friends about the brand. Rahkonen also told that 89% of customers don't believe in brand messages., but 79% do believe a customer or a friend, who recommends a brand.

A total of 61% of Finns do already knowledge-intensive work with their smartphones or computers, and they work where they can access the net; today's society has freed itself from work that is tied to buildings.

“Companies need engaged personnel at the core of their customer service. Good atmosphere, comfortable surroundings and a fair and energising boss motivate people to work.”In order to motivate your personnel, you need to ask: What motivates us to work? The answer is a good atmosphere, comfortable surroundings and a fair and energising boss. Microsoft has made this possible with presence work, which is based on trust. This type of work ables employees to concentrate on their work, as the biggest challenges of knowledge work are the constant interruptions, which happen, according to recent studies, every minute on the average. Having to interrupt your work also leads to work-related stress, as people worry about the work that they have not been able to finish. It is important to set goals and keep regular feedback discussions and checkpoints.

Customer satisfaction correlates with the company life span

Belinda Gerdt, Business Group Lead, Business Solutions, talked to us about creating a good customer experience online. She pointed out that the customers have moved to the web. Company activities need to be much more transparent to the customer, and they can also affect the process outcomes much more than before.

“Customer satisfaction correlates with the company life span. In the age of customers, 75% of currently existing companies will die before 2020.”We have moved on from industrial economy to customer economy. Gerdt also mentioned a study that proves that customer satisfaction correlates with the company life span. The researchers had forecasted that 75% of currently existing companies will die before 2020ä – some incentive to improve your customer satisfaction!

Customer experience design has four components in the online world: data, analytics, emotions and automation. Companies need to integrate marketing and customer services, because 65% of customer service dialogue will be digitalised by 2015.

“Over half of Finns have bought a 30% more expensive product in the hope of a better customer experience.”Finnish companies are currently using mostly the phone, their online services, and email, to communicate with their customers. Web chat provides excellent opportunities for interacting with customers. Chat has also been proven to directly affect sales and increase profits. It was good to hear that 56% of Finns have bought a 30% more expensive product in the hope of a better customer experience.

Microsoft creates added value to its customers by networking in their inspiring working facilities

The director responsible for customer and partner satisfaction, Jari Aromäki, introduced the audience to the working practices of customer experience management inside Microsoft Finland. According to him, the best results can be reached by focusing on the factors that provide most added value to the customers.

“The most important areas of management are training, process, benefiting from best practices, being present and proactive.”You need to make the goals concrete and measure how close you are to reaching them. Personnel compensations should be based on achieved results. The most important areas of management are training, process, benefiting from best practices, being present and proactive. Furthermore, also stories that help drive the desired results are useful. We have moved from measuring results to measuring activities, ”Excellence in execution”.

After the presentations, it was time to make a tour of the Microsoft premises. They are both inspiring and make it possible for employees to concentrate on their work and network with co-workers as needed.

Thank you for all our partners for making the event happen: MicrosoftEtumaQuestbackShirute.

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Does the word “customer” figure on your business card?

Having attended quite a few conferences and events focused on customer experience (CX) in the past, I was looking forward to seeing how the industry has developed from those 20ish people get-togethers of like-minded individuals held in small classrooms.

Just four years ago, it was hard to find people to present at such events, much less industry professionals that have the word "Customer" on their business card. Having followed the industry closely, and being in the vanguard of change in the business in Finland, I had the gut feeling that London might have a lot to offer.

This year, the main focus of the Customer Experience World (CEW) conference was to explore what companies need to do to deliver the service that customers expect to increase sales and employee morale. 

Typically, I've found a lot of these events to be mostly about product promotion by a few sponsor companies followed by rather a few case studies that are all quite alike. To my pleasant surprise, the case studies were astonishingly diverse, from the Chief Constable of the Durham Police and the NHS to e.on, with very different perspectives to customer experience, yet pleasantly similar rhetorics to each other. They also reflected the ideas that I like to foster and present.

Durham police has been designated as the best police department in the UK, and apparently with good reason. Their entire force is dedicated to helping their customers - be they reporters or perpetrators of a crime, or normal community members with mundane problems. Since adopting a service-oriented mindset, they have managed to reduce crime significantly in their area, all with a change in methodology, not budget.

The NHS had a similar story. Being a governmental organization, it's not always easy to convince your budget-makers that service matters. However, they've seized opportunity from the mandatory "Friends and Family"-initiative, and adopted a customer-oriented culture in their organization, amounting to better healthcare.

The vendor presentations were also engaging, with the data science presentation about finding patterns in customer insight by Adam Edmunds of MaritzCX standing out as particularly interesting to me as a fellow data enthusiast. MaritzCX has the solution to increasing sales from customer feedback data, digging out trends and hot leads from survey data. Analyzing and setting up the solution will require an analyst, to be sure, but the results seem too good to ignore.

Reflecting on the event, I feel that the concept that customers tend to bring in most of the revenue (who knew!?), and that both technological and cultural changes are required in organizations to keep them in a rapidly changing environment, is imperative to remaining competitive in the marketplace.

A few years back, this was seen as something that organizations might do to get a competitive advantage. Today, if an organization wishes to remain relevant, they must engage in structured CX development, or accept the risk to losing customers to their more responsive competitors.

Customer Experience World (CEW) was held at the London Heathrow Sofitel in the end of May.

Santeri Everi is a CX solution designer at Experq, a provider of turnkey solutions for total CX management.

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CEO, Customer Experience Optimiser Sirte Pihlaja, tel. +358 50 5700 190

Apple is redefining retail experiences as we know them

Apple has, for almost a year now, silently been writing a new chapter to a great story that brings about dramatic changes for the retail industry. It is on its way to redefining the way we shop, and making itself a hefty profit while at it.

Guess what is Apple's fastest-growing product by total sales? It’s not any of the iDevices, as many of us would believe - it’s eCommerce - or should we call this the iCommerce. According to Business Insider, Apple’s sales of digital content totals $4.4 billion in Q1 of this year, and are growing at a pace of almost 20% per year. This makes it a more than $17 billion business on a yearly basis. Compare that to the mere $2 billion that Zappos is making with its much raved customer experience goldmine. 

“Apple is pushing through more mobile shopping than Google”Most importantly, Apple is pushing through more mobile shopping than Google, although more people own Android phones.

Whereas most people think that Touch ID is about security, CEO Tim Cook is, in fact, building a business infrastructure that closes the loop for retailers. In this ecosystem, iPhone is used as the mobile payments device, to pay for the shopping spree triggered with iBeacons.

“Shoppers' devices let retailers know, how close to the store and to different products people are moving. The ecosystem gathers detailed data on what customers are interested in and what they end up buying.”iBeacons are small, almost unnoticeable and low-energy Bluetooth devices that can be used in-store to send product information, discounts, recommendations, rewards or flash sales to phones. These marketing messages are based on people’s location and proximity to stores and products. The iCommerce ecosystem lets Apple and its retailer partners know exactly where customers are buying, step-by-step along their shopping journey.

Closing the loop

This makes it possible, in essence, to attribute marketing to sales and to shoppers. No need to check-in via the foursquares and facebooks of the world, just accept the offer and pay with your phone. The contactless payments system speeds up the checkout process. And hey presto, now we know who is buying, on the spot! That is way more valuable than iWatch or new Apple TV combined. 

“Apple is, yet again, redefining a category: the retail sector.  It’s a huge business opportunity. Half of American adults are already using their mobile devices in-store.”Apple is, yet again, leading the pack on designing end-to-end retail customer experiences, and thus redefining a category. For the customer experience profession, it will also mark a major milestone if and when Apple manages to persuade the major retailers to follow its lead, and gets its mobile payments business together. It’s a huge business opportunity. Half of American adults are already using their mobile devices in-store, and other countries follow closely by.

So far, companies have been able to keep track of their customers’ buying behaviour only in the digital realm, and have successfully personalised their experiences, customer-by-customer. As the boundaries between online and offline are blurring, people are expecting to get the same treatment on their visits in the physical world. They want to be dealt with as the individuals they are, and think companies should know their preferences regardless of the service channel. In a multi-channel shopping environment, a single customer view is a must to ensure customer loyalty and engagement.

Surely, there are still hiccups. Surely, the technologies are still in their infancy. But Apple has a perfect playground with their own network of Apple Stores to test iCommerce in live action with real shoppers.

If Apple or its partners can come up with the perfect mix of convenience, personalisation and service against privacy concerns, and manage to renew the way brands interact with their customers - leading to wide customer acceptance - Apple could, indeed, revolutionise the in-store experience.

What kind of customer experiences do you want to provide?

The Finnish startup scene has already proved that there is true business potential to catching customers on the go. We have several tried and tested solutions out in the open paving the way: just have a look at what the likes of Experq, Etuma, Innorange, RapidBlue, Tietotalo, Walkbase, etc. have been doing for the past couple of years to analyse customers’ interests, needs and wants, and to measure customer experiences instantly. When you add personal assistant feel-like notifications and instant feedback to mobile payments to close the loop, you can actually know everything there is to know about each customer who visits you and every single experience you are providing.

“This vision of future shopping is closer than we think. The Finnish startup scene has already proved that there is true business potential.” This vision of future shopping is closer than we think. The main thing to understand here is not the technology being used, though. The most important issue to think about is how this new ecosystem - be it Apple’s or somebody else’s - can be used in the long run to enhance the experiences of your customers in-store, and beyond retail. 

What can you do to entice your shoppers, travellers, gamers, guests and visitors to adopt this new way of interacting with your store, venue or other encounter? That, my friends, is the true question you need to figure out an answer to. Which takes us back to the original question that every company needs to have a clear statement on: what is the customer experience you are aiming to achieve?

This blog article has originally been published on the website of Customer Experience World London.

Shirute ( is the first customer experience agency in Finland, and a founding member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association. Customer Experience Path(R) is a registered trademark of Shirute Ltd.

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Sirte Pihlaja will be presenting at the Myymälä 2014 fair on Thu 20th of March at 9.30am (Pink stage)
Go to Myymälä 2014 website


Further information:
CEO Sirte Pihlaja, tel. +358 50 5700 190

The win-win of happiness, act now!

In Finland, the most progressive companies want to develop and lead their customer experiences, to become the best of the best. In my workplace, Alko, we are also moving towards leading a more holistic customer experience as a continuum of former customer service process development.

How do Finns succeed on a global scale? Do the best wizards of memorable customer experiences live in Finland or elsewhere? For this question, I got a superb answer at the Customer Experience World seminar in London in May.

The common truths and basic elements of customer experience management transcend the boundaries of countries and industries. To me, concepts such as the NPS, personas, customer journey and the strong correlation of employee and customer experience sounded very familiar. However, it is not enough anymore to pursuit customer satisfaction or employee satisfaction. The more challenging indicator that should be measured is the amount of people's happiness.

Companies strive for happy customers and employees

“It is not enough anymore to pursuit customer satisfaction or employee satisfaction. You should measure people's happiness.”The sources of happiness vary very much between different generations. Unlike us, experienced veterans of work life, the new gaming generation that is just starting their careers require flexibililty and  meaningful work content that suits their personal values for their happiness. Life balance, the relation of work and leisure-time, must be optimal, and experiences should be up for grabs around every corner. Whether a young person is in the customer or in the employee role, these expectations should be taken seriously today.

It is crucial that the often middle-aged top management team stops and thinks over the way they act in their organization. The way you look at the world often springs from your own generation´s timeline, the one you are most familiar with. The brand new idea of a revolutionizing service concept, customer promise or social media message, should be tested first with your own dear granny as well as children or grandchildren. Next, ask the opinions of your employees of different ages and only finally start testing with customers. The interpretation and feedback differs from generation to generation for sure.

Make your Finance Director your first follower

“Happy employees lead to happy customers, and develop ROI as well. ”So, happy employees lead to happy customers, which has been proved to develop ROI as well. In the seminar, I was offered an interesting tip to make our Finance Director my first follower –check.

However, he might not be able to help with the fact that 40% of the employees are unhappy in their work and 25% are experiencing continuous work-related stress as they work at their highest limit. In the pursuit of happiness, all superiors should learn to profoundly know each member of his or her team, their expectations, aspirations and dreams. The same applies to your client base: one cannot lead customer experience without first learning to understand your customers’ everyday lives, values, expectations, needs, practices and above all, their feelings towards your company brand.

“An international customer experience manager is passionate, bold and acts fast.”A brilliant speaker in the seminar crystallized perfectly and simply what a super customer experience is all about.  Based on her own experience with an American airline, she came up with the thought "They actually seem to like me!"

So, what was my conclusion of how we Finns compare internationally? I find the biggest difference - for our defeat - to be the lack of passion, boldness and speed.

Act fast! Succeed or fail, but do something, right now…

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Customer Experience World London 2015

CEW-London-2015-320pxCustomer Experience World is the number one customer experience event in Europe. This year, the main focus of the Customer Experience World (CEW) conference was to explore what companies need to do to deliver the service that customers expect to increase sales and employee morale. The annual event was held at the London Heathrow Sofitel in the end of May. Customer experience solution expert Santeri Everi wrote a blog about the seminar and the ideas he brought back home with him.

The best Finnish CX managers are Finnair and TeliaSonera

Finnish companies have quite a high opinion of the customer experiences they provide, and their goals are higher than last year. However, they still lack a CX strategy and competence. These results were found in our annual State of Customer Experience in Finland 2015 –study by CXPA Finland and Shirute, which was published in the CXPA Finland summer event in Helsinki.

Finnair and TeliaSonera took the first and second places in the studyHUS-Kuvantaminen was third. Public sector organisations participated in the study for the first time.

Sirte Pihlaja joins Customer Directors on Board advisors

The CEO of Shirute and CXPA Finland LNE Head Sirte Pihlaja has been asked to join the CX advisors at Customer Directors On Board. This group consists of Customer Experience experts, who want to develop customer thinking in the strategic decision making of companies and other organisations.

CXPA Finland is also participating in the study of Customer Advocates on Board project, which makes a current state analysis of management and board practices from the perspective of customer thinking. The goal is to help the Finnish businesses start on a journey to deeper customer-centricity, and goal-oriented utilisation of customer insight. To support this target, the network of customer experience professionals CXPA Finland will organise special events for board members on customer experience. These events will take place during this fall.