Humans of Helsinki Airport: Johanna Laakso
How does a passenger feel after visiting the airport? Were the facilities and services functional? Were staff members helpful? These are some of the questions Johanna Laakso and her team work to explore as they create a world-class customer experience at Helsinki Airport and other airports across Finland.
“I became enthusiastic about improving customer experience about four years ago when I was doing marketing at Finavia. I had a light bulb moment: If we’re going to stand out in the tough international market, we’re going to have to put the customer at the center of everything we do. Whether a passenger wants to return to Helsinki Airport or not depends on the impression that he or she gets when visiting us.
I am now a Customer Experience Manager in the service development team. My team and I work to develop a smooth and delightful customer experience that encompasses the passenger pathway through Finnish airports. It’s a vast and interesting field of work: Helsinki Airport alone serves 50,000 passengers a day. According to my calculations, a passenger who, say, arrives at the airport by car, checks in and goes through security, does a bit of shopping, gets a cup of coffee and uses the bathroom before boarding, comes to contact with over ten different service provider companies along the way. Finavia is only one of those companies, and therefore we work in close cooperation with all the service providers at the airport.
Examples of our team’s responsibilities include designing the airport’s facilities and signposts, which have an impact on whether passengers can find what they are looking for without getting frustrated. Another one involves improving the encounter between customer service staff and the passenger, which is a crucial element in creating the right kind of atmosphere for visiting the airport. Our aim is to make each encounter smooth, favourable and delightful, and to highlight what’s best about Finnishness, such as honesty and authenticity. We’re also experimenting more boldly with new kinds of services. For example, we’ve brought in a live band to entertain passengers at spots across the airport, and we’re testing a new robot interpreter which helps members of staff and passengers to communicate across language barriers.
My work is truly inspiring, and I still enjoy the unique feeling of working at the airport. Even after several years, I’m excited by the atmosphere here and thrilled at the thought of picking a flight on the board at the departure hall and catching a plane to a place like New York.”