Service with smile
Today I went do some shopping here in Palo Alto, California, where I landed some days ago. As always, I wanted hit the best grocery store around, which means Whole Foods. The treatment you get there is something I could only dream of in Finland. There is an sense of easiness, smile and attention from personnel. They show in many ways how genuinely they were interested of my needs. And if I have something to ask for, they really help me all the way to find what I was looking for, and not - as in many case in my beloved home country Finland - just show with lazy twist of arm, where the stuff is.What I really get - in addition to high quality food -is an experience of being really taken care of. In all of Western countries, we are supposed to be moving into service economy. This shows in numbers. In some countries, as here in US, services comprises close to 80% of the GDP (2011: 79,6%). In Finland, we are lagging behind: our share is around two-third of GDP. In most European countries it somewhere between 70-80%, and rising. If you think of future of any manufacturing business, it will be evolving around the idea how to add more service into the products. Some of Finnish companies are putting a lot of efforts with some good results into this -notably such machinery companies like Kone or Wärtsilä. On the other hand, in consumer business side,Nokia might serve as an example of the kind of company that lost the touch of how to serve their customer best.
Here in Silicon Valley you can see some new interesting landmarks in digitalized service businesses. Take Airbnb, company that helps people find housing in foreign locations. As I need to go next week to Santa Barbara, I wanted stay in a home instead of lousy hotel. So I looked at what airbnb got to offer in that particular spot of California. I found an interesting offer, system connected me to local service provider, which in this case is a family who has some extra space in their home. I had wealth of information at my disposal where I could distill not only the basic info but also that kind of information that helped me to get the feeling of the house and its owners. Following, I chatted - using bnb server -of my particular needs as they got to know me a little bit as I got to know them. We experienced each other in the course of that chat.This helped to create a feeling of trust, even before we have actually met.
This is service economy, at the core. Make a human-touch connection with provider and customer using digital space and helping customer to find exactly what he needs. More of this, please!