Jarkko Vuorikoski is the Head of Customer Journey of Danske Bank. He is a beckoned expert in customer experience and operational excellence. His main areas of work include process development, customer experience, lean and service design. We met up with Jarkko in 2017 at the Operational Excellence conference in Amsterdam, and invited him to take his vast array of expertise to the show.

You can listen to the conversation on iTunes, Acast and other podcasting apps. What follows here are excerpts from our conversation with Jarkko, edited for length and clarity.

"Employees are like elecricity."

Agnes: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? What drives you? What is your passion?

Jarkko Vuorikoski: What drives me is, whether it is about improving products, processes or customer experience at Danske Bank, the constant pursuit to try to do things better. I emphasize the word “try” because we don’t always succeed in life, but if you stop trying then that is not good either. This has been my drive throughout my career, to try to do things better.

Agnes: Employee and customer experience are both areas that are really gaining traction. From your perspective, how can we create a winning strategy for both groups?

Jarkko Vuorikoski: I am not sure if one can create a winning strategy without having both groups in mind. Employee experience has gained traction over the last couple of years, and if you think about it, employees are the backbones and foundation of companies. Employees are like electricity. If you want to offer a digital experience for your customers you actually need electricity. Indeed, a good employee experience should be a good enabler for a stellar customer experience as well.

Which one is more important? My opinion is that you can not have one without the other. In the end, I believe it is the customer experience that counts. It can lead to customer satisfaction, loyalty, recommendation, repurchase etc. Yes, employee experience, if we think about it, is one of the main parts of the system that supports the customer experience itself.

Agnes: “Taking an interest in the lives of customers. Matching them with transactions.” What this concept is? Why do you think this is important for companies?

Jarkko Vuorikoski: Yes, this is a great concept that I have been highlighting in various events that I usually attend as a speaker. In my slides I refer to “taking interest in our customers lives, and also in the lives of our employees and partners” because it is a whole ecosystem. We are emotional creatures as human beings. When there are big things going on in our lives, then we immediately are more open to emotional engagements. For example, if we talk about marriage, birth of a child, moving or starting new studies etc. we are actually in a situation that happens to us rather seldom. This can be a more overwhelming experience for you, which means that there is also room for a service provider to actually be there together with you and help you out in that particular situation. In that way a bigger emotional connection can be created with the customers.

Whereas when we talk about transactions we refer to minuscule things, that happen every single day in our lives. In these cases the transactions are totally forgettable things that we don't even notice. For example, when we pay with our credit card in the local grocery. These are the things that we take for granted that need to be there and we only notice them when something is not working. The difference between these life events and transactions is that with transactions you should not try to crate a big emotional connection with your customers. Don't go with the bells and whistles, with things that the customers actually don’t even like to see or hear, whereas with life events if you really want to invest money creating a “WOW” factor than it is those life events when you want to create that impact. For transactions, make it work, as effortless as possible for the customers.

Agnes: At the WorkLife HUB, we talk about these major transitions or life events a lot. They are usually super important in the lives’ of employees. It is also crucial how they get translated into employee experience. I also wanted to discuss with you the concept of customer journey. What is it? What is a customer journey map? Why this is so important?

Jarkko Vuorikoski: Customer journey as a concept became popular over the last 10 years. To start with let me say that this is a really beneficial development for customers, in general. Companies have finally have taken a proper interest about what their customers are feeling, doing or thinking. Customer journey map is about the creation of a map about what the customer is experiencing during a major life changing event, such as a child birth. The whole idea behind the concept is mapping all the different things that the customer is going through during these events, but not only the actions or user cases, but even more importantly mapping what the customers are feeling and thinking during this journey.

The main difference in between process map and the customer journey map is in the fact that the process map starts from the perspective of the company. On the other hand, the customer journey map takes into account, primarily, the point of view of the customers, which includes different phases or touch points. There is a fantastic video (see below) about this approach on Youtube, in which Ideo, an international design and consulting firm, develops a new shopping cart through design thinking process.

Agnes: What are the biggest mistakes that organisations make when it comes to customer experience?

Jarkko Vuorikoski: In terms of customer experience the biggest mistakes companies make is when they don’t have the right resources at the right place and time. Usually, the symptoms of a faulty customer experience are when offices or call-centres become under-resourced, with poor processes and systems to support customers. This basically causes physical queues, or long waiting times on the phone, or in chat programmes for customers. When customers need to wait, first of all, some of them will decide to go somewhere else if they are able, or the ones that decide to wait get anxious. If the waiting time is long they usually decide to approach you through a different channel, or contact you again on the same channel. Suddenly this adds up on actual customers waiting for to be taken care of, which actually creates extra work that normally would not exist and should not exist. This way you self-employ yourself in a situation where you are already overburdened with the existing workload. This is one of the mistakes organisations do.

"It is the amount of information that the consumers have available right now, and have access to, that have changed the game of customer experience."

Another mistake can happen when companies are not enough transparent for their customers. Referring back to my previous example, if the waiting time is a week, and if you communicate this properly to the customer, usually this helps them understand the situation. Thirdly, when organisations try to invest in and improve their customer experience they tend to look for short terms solutions or pay-offs. I believe that improving CX (customer experience) is a long term game, which is very much related to many other factors within organisations. Going for a heavily calculated business case when organisations try to improve their customer experience is probably the right thing to do.

Agnes: If I could ask you Jarkko to give one advice to a CEO about improving his or her organisation’s customer experience, what would that be?

Jarkko Vuorikoski: My main advice would be to reward the right behaviour and results will follow. It is also a matter of believing in long term, sustainable results, and not looking for only short term profits. It is also knowing more about your customers, their whys and hows. This will get you much further.