Comparing Customer Experiences in Finland and Mexico – Can You Guess the Winner?

It’s my third day as an intern at Cloudriven and as one of my creative tasks, I got the opportunity to write my opinion about customer experience. Since I left my start-up back home in Mexico, I have missed the start-up feeling of working with inspiring people in relaxed yet active environment. Right from the start I have felt welcome and I think part of that feeling comes from the culture of making work meaningful – which by the way is written on the office wall in huge letters – not just for our customers but for our team as well.

In my opinion, I haven’t even had average customer service in Finland compared to North America, where customer service is everything. So as an entrepreneur from other culture and having worked in the tech field before, it’s refreshing to see a company that puts customer experience truly in the center of every decision. I can see it even in the little things that Finnish companies don’t notice or acknowledge the fact that they should have more emphasis on customer service. I’ll give you an example.

When I go to the movies here, most of the time the service personnel to whom I pay my popcorn won’t even look at me; they just ask if I have some kind of card, which carries a name I can’t hear or understand since she is looking at her monitor, so I always say no.

When I was studying in Mexico, one part of my studies was to work in the biggest movie theater chain in the country. Apart from our marketing goal which was to triple the number of customers in a weekend, we also had day-to-day responsibilities, like selling tickets and candy, waitressing at the café, and so on.

When our school did the agreement with the company, their requirement was that we had to be trained for a month before we could work there. Everyone thought “what’s the point, we’re just working there for a weekend”, but we did it anyway. It was 6 years ago and I still have my coach’s words printed in my brain: “Customer Experience, it’s the most important thing ever!”

They were so worried we were going to mess up their customer service that they made us take 30-day training just to work for 2 days. Just think about it! For something as simple as buying popcorn in a Mexican movie theater, they have a 10-step customer experience process which includes smiling, looking at the person, asking if they need something else, and ALWAYS ending with a friendly “enjoy your movie”. In Finland, apparently there are no steps. This is just one small example, but I can say the lack of customer service applies even to the biggest companies in Finland.

As you can imagine, I have had so many cultural shocks, Finland being so different from Mexico, and one of the major ones – along with the weather – is customer service. This may sound a little dramatic, but sometimes it has made me feel myself less important. And for me, as an entrepreneur, disrespecting your customers is one of the biggest mistakes a company can make. Always make your client feel she is important! It’s something so easy and yet so crucial.
And for me, as a normal person who is used to good customer service, I always prefer companies that show respect to their customers with good customer service.

At the Office

Start-up entrepreneur and sales and marketing specialist Carolina Robles-Lehtola moved to Finland a couple of years ago from Mexico, where she was born and raised. Related to her Finnish language studies, she’s doing a two-week internship at Cloudriven.