CEM2020: Finnish companies top international CEM Benchmark

CXPA Finland, the Finnish local networking community of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, has published the annual CEM Benchmark survey. Based on CEM 2020, Orange is this year’s leader in managing their customer experiences. This year marks the first time this study was conducted globally.

Sokos Hotels places second. Sato, a housing developer acting in Finland and Russia, and a newcomer on the list, lands third. The other top ten organizations are Mandatum Life and Piramal Enterprises (shared 4th), Elisa, HSolutions and NCR Corporation (shared 6th), Bank Millenium and LähiTapiola (shared 9th). A total of  7 out of the TOP 10 organisations come from Finland.

The average Shirute CEM index is more or less on the same level for both international and Finnish organisations. Finnish organisations intend to spend more on the development of  CEM than their international counterparts.

This report by CXPA Finland and Shirute was published internationally for the first time this year. It has been conducted on the Finnish level for eight consecutive years.

“This acknowledgement is heartwarming, especially in this exceptional year, when the hotel industry has been functioning more or less under emergency conditions. The development of customer experiences has been a matter of the heart for all of us at Sokos Hotels for years. Customer experience is not a separate concept, but the main core of our functions in making people happy. This guiding star has taken us forward during these unprecedented times, and we are bringing, for example, new solutions to checking in to our hotels through self-service and the Sokos Hotels app. This recognition will carry us forward”, Jaana Matikainen, the Vice President Development & Concepts at SOK Travel and Hospitality Industry Chain Management celebrates.

The Covid year improved the average results in Finland 

This year brought an overview of the differences in customer experience management maturity between Finnish and international organisations.

A good quarter (28%) of the organisations that responded to the survey reached the second-highest (Executive) level in terms of overall scoring. The second-lowest level (Apprentice) was reached by more than six out of ten (61%) of the respondents. This represents a markedly higher proportion of Finnish respondents than in our study last year.

Only a tenth (11%) of the responding companies stay at the lowest (Survivor) level. There is still room for improvement, as no organisation reached the highest level (Visionary). The average Shirute CEM Index of international (54%) and Finnish (53%) organisations is more or less at the same level (scale 0% -100%).

“The results were a pleasant surprise! The average of the index has stagnated, in Finland, on the same level (49%) for a number of years. To get this kind of results, showing growth, especially during the Covid crisis, has been amazing! The results show that organisations understand the need to focus on their customer experiences to keep their customers”, rejoices Sirte Pihlaja, Head of CXPA Finland local networking team and CEO of Shirute, the customer experience agency conducting the study.

“The results also show that a vast number of companies are ready to invest in customer experience development, especially Customer Intelligence projects. They are also willing to put heavy emphasis on cultural transformation now and in the future.”

Altogether, 91% of the organisations who responded are seeking to differentiate from their competitors by developing people experiences (CX, Customer Experience), and nearly eight out of ten (78%) believe their efforts in customer experience activities have had a positive impact on their financial results.

Out of all the responding organisations, almost half (43%) view that their challenges in CX development are mostly due to other competing priorities taking up resources, and almost one out of three (34%) cite the lack of an actual CX strategy or the lack of budget as a barrier.

Customer Experience is highly valued in the organisations’ strategies and in practice

Customer experience management has been raised on the strategy level in practically all of the organisations (99%), and in 69% as one of the main strategic goals. The results show a slight difference compared to Finland, where 66% of the respondents have defined customer experience as one of the main strategic goals. Eight out of ten organisations (82%) are actively driving CX development projects (Finland 87%).

“The strategic value of customer experience management is on a remarkably high level. It would have been surprising if this year hadn’t brought forward any changes in the number of development projects. Companies have had to furlough many of their employees in Finland and all around the world. The fact that the decline in CX activities is so small, indicates a strong trust in the value of CX development work”, Pihlaja believes.

A strong 78% of the respondents (79% in Finland) feel that their CX management related activities have had a positive impact on their organisations’ financial results in the past year.

A significantly higher number of Finnish organisations now have a dedicated budget or are considering a budget for customer experience management (63%), whereas 67% of international organisations claim to have or plan one. Over five out of ten (54%) already have a dedicated budget. The size of CX teams averages now at 3 to 5 people both internationally and in Finland. The number of customer experience managers/directors responsible for developing customer experiences is 75% internationally, whilst in Finland 65% of organisations participating have a CX leader.

The priority of CX management is strengthening organisational culture and developing CX & CX strategies

The housing development organisation Sato came in third place internationally in the total score. Sato’s Executive Vice President Antti Aarnio says: “We are delighted with our success in this study. The customers are in the main focus of our strategy, and we want to develop our customers’ homes through service excellence. With our Customer First development program, we have been focusing this year on developing especially the organisational and service processes to meet the customers’ needs even better. We aspire to be present in our customers’ everyday lives to be able to give the best service experiences. This year, for example, we broadened our House Expert model through our own experiences and the positive customer feedback we had received.”

Seven out of ten of the responding organisations are going to put more emphasis, and almost a third (30%) are going to put significantly more emphasis than before on the development of customer experiences.  In Finland, three fourths believe investments in CEM will be growing. The main areas for development are digital channels, multichannel experiences and social media.

“For the next 12 months, one of the main development activities is, for the first time, Customer Intelligence related projects. At the same time, strengthening the customer-centric culture is the top priority. It seems that organisations are now willing to invest in concrete actions. There’s a need to create something concrete and visible – and fast. This is in line with the fact that many companies have had to re-think their products and services completely. On the other hand, organisations want to make these new best practices an everyday for all, so they need to support the cultural transformation”, Pihlaja points out.

Mandatum Life’s Director, Head of Private Sales, Customer Experience and Sales Enablement Tuomas Simonen celebrates the success of his organisation in the CEM 2020 study and states: ”In the finance industry, we work with money and lives, so trust and quality customer experience are the pillars of our business activities. We have been persistently putting an emphasis on developing our customer experiences: customer satisfaction has been one of the main goals for our personnel as a whole since 2008. We have managed to improve our customer satisfaction even in these unprecedented times, and this year, our NPS score has increased to 72,6 points. In the future, we want to set the bar even higher in how we create a first-class service offering by combining personal and digital services”.

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The CEM 2020 Benchmark is the most comprehensive study evaluating the CEM capabilities and competences of international and Finnish organisations. CXPA Finland and Shirute have been studying the current state of CEM in Finland since 2013. The study was originally based on research by Temkin Group. This is the first time it was conducted internationally.

The participating organisations were evaluated against the Shirute Customer Experience Management Index™ to understand the level of CEM maturity in Finland. This index measures, e.g. how systematic and goal-oriented the activities are, how well the respondents are organising themselves, how much they co-ordinate their various CX development projects, how customer experiences are measured, and how much they invest or plan to invest in customer experience management.

It is important to notice that the index evaluates only how systematic the intentions of the participants are, as reported by themselves. It does not take a stand as to the content of the customer experiences, nor their quality from the point of view of customers, i.e. the results of the CEM activities. This aspect can be measured with other indexes that are based on exercises such as focus group interviews, customer journey mapping etc.

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The data was gathered through an online form and phone interviews in May-October.

The target group consisted of randomly selected top 500 companies, the most famous brands and public organisations internationally and in Finland. Altogether, 106 CX professionals from 90 organisations across different industries participated. A third (33%) of these organisations average a turnover of more than 100 million euros. Almost half of them (48%) have over 1 000 employees.

The study has been conducted for the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) Finnish local network by the customer experience agency Shirute (https://www.shirute.fi). CXPA Finland and Shirute are also partnering with Surveypal for this study.

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CXPA Finland (CXPA.fi) is the local network of the international, non-profit Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org) network in Finland. We operate as a community of customer experience management professionals. Our goal is to get companies to offer even better customer experiences and increase their success. We regularly organize exciting events and business cooperation related to the theme. Our activities are based on volunteering and corporate donations.

The Customer Experience Professionals Association is an international, non-profit umbrella organization for anyone interested in managing and developing a customer experience. There are currently more than 4,000 members in 80 countries, most of them in the United States and the United Kingdom. The founders of CXPA are Bruce Temkin, former head of Forrester’s Customer Experience, and Jeanne Bliss, a veteran customer experience management consultant. Activities at the local level are the responsibility of active members of the CXPA.

Shirute (shirute.fi) is Finland’s first design agency focusing on customer experience management. Customer Experience Path® is a registered trademark of Shirute. We are a founding member of the international CXPA (Customer Experience Professionals Association).

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Want to know more?

You can take the survey at any time during the year. We share the aggregated results on a yearly basis. If you want to get your results analysed or a full audit, please get in touch by email and we will get back to you.


See the CEM Benchmark 2020 study results summary.


Additional information: 

Head of CXPA Finland local networking team, Sirte Pihlaja, CXPA Finland, GSM. +358 50 5700 190

You can request for media usage our report free of charge by contacting us at [email protected].

The Global #1 Best-Selling Business Book Customer Experience 2 Is a Shiny Example of the ‘New Normal’

Customer Experience 2 tops the charts as the #1 best selling book on Amazon e.g. in the “Customer Service” and “Consumer Behaviour” categories in multiple countries (USA, UK, Canada and France, etc), making the co-authors Best Selling Authors on three continents. Sirte Pihlaja, the CEO of Shirute, is a Finnish CX/EX expert, who has been evangelising CX all over the world during the last 25+ years. Her passion is using creative methodologies in creating great CX and EX. That is why she wrote about customer-centric culture and on the Role of Play in Business.


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