Updated: Mar 5, 2020
This article was first published on Customer Experience Magazine in March 2019.
I am always inspired by corporate brand image when assessing the Customer Experience maturity of a company, since these values and the brand positioning form the blueprint for future consistency.
Delivering a consistent, attractive service requires that a corporation explains the ‘why and how’ to its staff on a regular basis.
With this in mind, I recently discovered a Finnair brochure at a business event in London, and found it an interesting example of this form of communication. It also reminded me of some of the key questions we must ask ourselves when forming brand comms strategies.
What’s the journey?
The brochure tells us “Back to the Nordic Way” and talks about the “Nordic experience”, highlighting the strong values the company adheres to and evoking a specific time and place. This isn’t always easy for an airline. Air France did a similar thing when it used “le luxe, c’est l’espace” as it’s baseline, but this method of communication and promotion proved confusing for the audience, as it focused solely on business class passengers and overlooked those flying economy, who certainly did not have roomy flights to look forward to.
However, the Finnair brochure uses rich imagery, with wild, untamed Nordic landscapes and a mindset of freedom and respect, all of which sounds consistent and appealing brand-wide.
Which values will staff embody?
The Finnair brochure describes Nordic hospitality with three simple words: courage, commitment, and simplicity. These are modern customer values, which showcase a brand willing to move with the times.
We don’t live in a stable world, and emphasising courageousness allows Finnair to tell customers they will always adapt to meet new challenges. Anyone who has worked front-line knows courage is vital, as B2C customers become more and more unpredictable and even more aggressive in their approach. Courage conveys pride and pleasure at direct contact with customers.
The brochure describes a “commitment to care”, which is certainly essential in today’s landscape. Surveys show that customer engagement is largely the result of care, not of luxurious features or even money spent. Customers like to feel that crew members and other staff are there to support their journey, and empathise with their feelings, fears and excitements. Kindness, proactivity, and good manners are evergreen in customer-facing industries.
This helps to differentiate the company from its competition, and is lofty goal which many of us are working towards. Considering the airlines which would cite simplicity as a customer value, I would have first considered a brand like easyJet. Yet hearing that Finnair believes in this concept seems logical, and aligns well with the Nordic values they have already espoused. Where once ‘simple’ might have conveyed negative connotations, today it is more about removing complications – something which is particularly important to travellers.
Beautiful values and great use of language is never enough to attract or satisfy customers; they require tangible, measurable proof. Looking through the rest of the brochure, a few were clearly explained and outlined, which I felt helped to differentiate Finnair:
The company provides short connections such as the hassle-free transfers at Helsinki airports, which don’t seem as stressful as comparative trips from areas like Heathrow or Paris. In addition, flights are shorter thanks to the Eastern position of Finland, and Helsinki is one of the more punctual airports.
There is an emphasis on fewer emissions and greater fuel efficiency, green landings and an air filtration system on-board.
The airport is fully connected, with spacious rooms and a calming atmosphere, utilising mood lighting to set the tone. Lounges additionally contain saunas.
What’s in it for me?
Every professional in the process of improving their Customer Experience must work closely with their branding and communication departments to see what messages are currently being delivered to customers – even long before they use the service.
This form of baseline – the values oriented towards customers – is often not communicated clearly enough for either customers or employees to grasp, so they are unable to move the agenda forwards.
It should be compulsory to check a couple of times a year that all materials embody brand values at each stage of the customer journey, whether that journey is physical or digital.
This is the first step of what we do at CXB HUB. We get to know the CX strategy of each brand and assess for consistency gaps and how we can solve them. This takes brains and experience courtesy of CX innovative practitioners. Working together with research and digital solutions, stronger CX experiences can be built from the ground up.
Claire Bonniol, CEO & Co-Founder CXB HUB