Why the Customer Experience Needs to Be in the Right Perspective

Written by Maarit Lamminmäki and Kaisa Aalto, Sanoma Media Finland

Digitalization of the mass media market has happened unexpectedly rapidly. However, digitalization has not been a death sentence for the print media as it was commonly predicted some 10–15 years ago. Digitalization has – quite the opposite – offered media houses unpredicted possibilities in content production, including images and videos, distribution over new channels, and most importantly in improving the customer experience.

At Sanoma the customer has been in our main focus for years and our motto is that we have the strongest reader relationship in the world. Digitalization and the constant development of our digital Helsingin Sanomat news service allows us to serve online customers with the high level of details and technical quality that we have been aiming for. In addition, measurement of the quality has enabled us to put the customer experience of our digital news service into right perspective.

“digitalization has not been a death sentence for the print media as it was commonly predicted some 10–15 years ago.”

Putting customer experience into the right perspective is important because it allows us to focus our development resources on the problems that really need it rather than wasting our time on irrelevant and miscellaneous matters.

From Centralised Feedback Collection to Improved Customer Experience

For example, in the past we had a problem with the digital quality of our online Helsingin Sanomat where we weren’t able to assess the scale of the problem. There might have been, say, three customers emailing or calling us regarding the online news of the day, but we didn’t know whether the content bothered 3,000 readers or only the three who had contacted us.

Clearly, there is a difference in the measure of the corrective procedures and the prioritisation when we have a solid understanding of how many customers the feedback is actually concerning.

In order to be able to solve our problem, we had to take action and make changes. We centralised our online customer feedback collection; it could not be scattered here and there in various departments anymore. We started to measure the read time of online Helsingin Sanomat news service systematically, whereas in the past we had only monitored the uptime and net quality score (NQS).

The information received from these measures has allowed our online news editors to improve the article contents, and the centralised feedback shows us the actual number of online customer feedback. Usability is perceived quality and now our goals are to improve usability and reduce cancellations.

Customer Experience Has a Clear Impact on the Business

Any organisation needs to have a clear outlook on the digital customer experience as a whole and the different elements contributing to it. For instance, technical and content related customer feedback needs to be differentiated, prioritised and interdependencies between them understood. This outlook should also include a clear view on how customer experience affects the turnover of the organisation.

The customer experience has a very clear impact on the turnover and with our digital news service it has been easy to verify it. When the top management, such as the sales and technical directors, and the chief editors, see this, they understand how a technical development project in the online news service is a factor in relation to the business goals. And when top management has this perception, the resources needed for development projects – technical or content – are easier to obtain.

Improve Quality with Systematic Persistence

The quality of the Helsingin Sanomat digital publications has a strong and direct impact on the customer experience, which needs to be monitored constantly and discussed internally at least on a weekly basis. This is what we have done, and we have been happy to notice that the customer experience has become a talking point in aisle conversations and coffee breaks.

Naturally, problems in the prioritised elements of the digital news service affecting relevant number of customers need to be fixed instantly. Developing and improving quality is all about the systematic persistence.

Remember to:

  • Centralise customer feedback collection.
  • List and prioritise the elements of quality.
  • Measure the customer experience holistically.
  • Have regular internal discussions about the quality of customer experience.
  • Include the top management by demonstrating the effects of the customer experience to the turnover.


About the authors

Maarit Lamminmäki, Head of Product Group in Sanoma Media Finland, is responsible for customer experience guidance and the subscription products of Helsingin Sanomat newspaper. Services, their development and marketing are part of her work that still fascinate her. 

Kaisa Aalto, Head of the HS.fi Development team, is responsible for developing the digital services for all of the channels of Helsingin Sanomat newspaper. Digital quality, and especially user-centred development and agile methods in strategic planning and technical implementation are close to her heart.

Sanoma Media Finland's authors
Maarit Lamminmäki (left) and Kaisa Aalto from Sanoma Media Finland.