Using Strategic Foresight to Design the Future Customer Experience
The Case of Lindström and Roger Studio
September 24, 2018, Annika Sipilä
Jussi Leskinen, Director of Customer Experience Management and Operations at Lindström, and Mika Raulas, Business Designer at Roger Studio, took the stage to discuss using strategic foresight to design future customer experience.
This article is based on content presented at the Strategic Foresight Summit 2018, organized earlier this year by Futures Platform.
“This is our 175th year, so you can imagine we’ve had our fair share of changes,” Leskinen began. “Lindström has evolved from a textile dying house and laundry to a global textile-service house.” The company’s Finnish management team decided to conduct a future deep dive to deepen the understanding of future changes in customer experience that will affect their business in the future.
What is the customer experience like eight years from now?
The main goal of the future customer experience project was to understand and predict how will work and customer behaviour look like in 2025. The objective was to find out how the company could be better prepared when the changes gain momentum. “The main thing is to make the customer’s life easier so that they can concentrate on their core business. To achieve this, we need to know how our customers are behaving eight years from now,” Lindström's Director of Customer Experience Management and Operations Jussi Leskinen said about the company’s customer-centric standpoint.
The evolution of customer experience has gone through segmentation and CRM towards thinking about customer journey and experience. The last development centers on emotions beyond customer experience. “We did not focus on processes or product design, but rather on how to tap in to the emotions and relationships that add value to the customer,” Mika Raulas of Roger Studios explained.
A process of creating a shared vision of the future through learning, engagement and visualization
The key outcome of the project was a shared vision of the future. The key elements of the process were learning, engagement, and visualization. By focusing on these elements, they created leverage and facilitated the process to make it as smooth, and on the other hand as deep as possible. “I do believe in sprints and in an agile way of working,” Raulas said, “this is why the project was centered around four workshops.”
The first workshop focused on identifying future trends relevant to Lindström. They visualized relevant trends and phenomena on a radar map and shared it to the participants of the project a week before the workshop.
In the workshop the participants presented their thoughts. “The key was that the participants explained why the phenomena they chose is relevant to the company,” Raulas explained. Using the Futures Platform tool, they decided to focus on three key phenomena relevant to the company in the future to guide the way during the project. The phenomena chosen in the workshop through discussion were design, big data, and generation Z. Another three were chosen to be monitored closely: industrial revolution 4.0, omnichannel, and the change from products to relationships.
The second workshop was about the customer journey and services to elaborate further on how to improve the offering. In the third workshop customer and employee personas were developed. All of this was tightly linked to the relevant phenomena chosen in the first workshop. For example, the customer personas emphasize the changes anticipated to happen in the customer behavior and the employee personas highlight the key skills and behaviors Lindström's key employee profiles should have in the future. This links directly to the changes created by generation X entering the job market. The fourth workshop was the conclusion of the project where the future customer experience and Lindström's new concepts to serve customers were designed based on the information and insights gathered.
The future deep dive as input in the next strategy process
“I think we managed to get a very good and shared understanding of the future. We created our understanding of the phenomena and that was a healthy basis for the rest of the project,” Leskinen highlighted the importance of learning and engagement. The workshops lasted only a few hours each, so preparation and discipline were key factors in succeeding.
“We did a future deep dive and after understanding better the future, we continued to the next steps on how the customer behavior is changing and how does that affect our employees’ behavior and the company’s processes," he added. "In conducting a future deep dive, the Futures Platform tool is very useful because you are able to get a comprehensive view of how the future looks like in a short time.”
Mika Raulas also shared his experience: “My experience is that the emotion of participating drives enthusiasm, discipline and creative thinking,” he said. “It is important that decisions are made. A narrowing down first and then choices on most important phenomena has to be achieved to be able to create a shared vision of the future.”
“We used Futures Platform to conduct a one-off futures deep dive, so we are not yet at the level of having a systematically managed foresight process with it,” Leskinen said.