CEM 2020: Sokos Hotels takes the lead in customer experience management

CXPA Finland, the Finnish local networking community of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, has published the annual Customer Experience Management in Finland survey. The survey results show positive developments compared to last year.

Based on the study on the current state of CEM in Finland, Sokos Hotels is this year’s leader in managing their customer experiences. Sato, a housing developer acting in Finland and Russia and a newcomer on the list, places second. The life insurance company Mandatum Life lands third.

The other top ten organizations are Elisa (4th), City of Helsinki (shared 5th), LähiTapiola (shared 5th), Elo (shared 5th), Stockmann (8th), Senate Properties (9th), Valio and Visma Public(shared 10th).

The average Shirute CEM index for Finnish organisations has increased significantly from previous years. Additionally, more organisations have a dedicated budget for CEM. Also the size of their CX teams has grown.

This annual report by CXPA Finland and Shirute was published this year for the eight time.

“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 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 

This year brought a growth spurt to the customer experience management maturity of Finnish organisations. Over a quarter (29%) of the Finnish organisations that responded to the survey reached the second-highest (Executive) level in terms of overall scoring. The second-lowest level (Apprentice) was reached already by six out of ten (59%) of the respondents, slightly more than last year

Only 12% of the responding companies stay at the lowest (Survivor) level. The results show that the management of customer experiences as a whole has improved since last year, but there is still room for improvement when no organization reached the highest level (Visionary). The average Shirute CEM Index of Finnish organisations has gone up to 53% (scale 0% -100%), whilst it has stagnated around 49% in the recent years.

“The results were a pleasant surprise! The average index has stayed on the same level for a number of years, and 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, who conducted the study.

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

Altogether, 97% of the organisations who responded are seeking to differentiate from their competitors by developing people experiences (CX, Customer Experience), and three out of four believe their efforts in customer experience activities have had a positive impact on their financial results.

Out of all the responding organisations, almost half (48%) view that their challenges in customer experience development are mostly due to other objectives taking up resources, and a good third (35%) the lack of an actual CX strategy.

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

Customer experience management has been lifted on the strategy level in almost all of the organisations (98%), and in 66% as one of their main strategic goals. The results show a slight decline from last year, when 71% of the respondents had defined customer experience as one of their main strategic goals. Almost nine out of ten organisations (87%) are actively driving CX development projects.

“The strategic value of customer experience management in Finland has stayed 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 is so small, indicates a strong trust in the value of CX development work”, Pihlaja believes.

A strong 79% of the respondents feel that their CX management related activities have had a positive impact on their organisations’ financial results in the past year. This number has also seen a slight growth compared to last year.

A significantly higher number of organisations now have a dedicated budget or are considering a budget for customer experience management (63%), when last year the number was only 53%. The majority (55%) already have their own budget, which marks a significant increase from last year’s 40%. Also the size of CX-teams has increased for the first time, as it averages now at 3 to 5 people. The number of customer experience managers/directors has stayed on the same level or even increased a little in many organisations.

The priority of CX management is Customer Intelligence and strengthening organisational culture

The housing development organisation Sato came in second place 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.”

Three out of four of the responding organisations are going to put more emphasis, and approximately a third (32%) are going to put significantly more emphasis in the form of investments than before on the development of customer experiences. That’s a significant growth compared to last year, when the latter was only 30%. The main areas for development are digital channels, multichannel experiences and social media.

“For the next 12 months, the main development activities are focusing, for the first time, around Customer Intelligence. At the same time, strengthening the customer-centric culture has stayed the top activity. 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 Finnish and global organisations. CXPA Finland and Shirute have been studying the current state of CEM in Finland since 2013. This study was originally based on research by Temkin Group. This year marks 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 Finnish brands and public authorities organisations. Altogether, 65 CX professionals from 49 organisations from over 15 different industries participated. Almost half (48%) 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 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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See the Customer Experience Management 2020 in Finland 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].

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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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