Welcome to Sweden, one of the happiest countries in the world. A country consistently listed in the top ten in the World Happiness Report.
This mentality has been fundamental to Sweden becoming a bastion of entrepreneurship, with some of the hottest tech companies emerging, including Skype, Spotify and King (Candy Crush's parent company). If you delve into a number of typical Swedish companies, some key qualities recur that I believe we can all learn from.
Sweden's "happy country" label is something that's relatively well known, but perhaps something less highlighted is the well-established engineering background which goes back as far as some of the early pioneers of mobile space with Ericsson.
It's this engineering first attitude which has now proliferated into newer, more agile tech businesses. This, combined with a 'do good' mentality, has meant that many of the successful businesses born out of Sweden put a major focus on customer value and experience, rather than purely commercial gain.
Some great examples of this include Spotify, iZettle and Klarna. If you look at what these companies stand for, it's all about fundamentally changing the way consumers engage for the better, be it the way we access music, the way we can make payments or the way we checkout in store. In each case these aren't small changes to the norm, there is a fundamental shift to a better way of doing things for consumers.
Getting - and keeping - your priorities straight
The psyche and attitude towards building a company "in a Swedish way" means that the customer is placed - and remains - at the centre of the business. This attitude is something that's really driven Swedes to think differently and is reflected in consumer attitudes and expectations.
Unfortunately, when I look more globally at how businesses approach customer experience there is a strong focus on superficial look and feel rather than actual substance. Consumer Research carried out last year revealed customers' frustration with being bombarded by irrelevant communication from service providers. In fact, 86% of customers who left their bank, energy, mobile or insurance provider in a six month window said they would have been more content if they were contacted in a different way.
When questioned about their reasons for leaving, relevancy and timeliness had the biggest impact on loyalty. Nearly one in five (17%) complained that they never received relevant information. This makes grim reading, and surely the time for change is now.
Being and staying positive
With such a strongly tech driven country, the latest advancements to facilitate the "customer first" mentality, understandably feature innovative technology at the core.
Developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) mean it is now possible for businesses to communicate with people at scale but retain a human aspect, delivering intelligent customer dialogue. Combining AI with customer data means you can create smart, service oriented messages that respond to our behaviour, in real time.
Take Scandinavian Airlines , which used smart communications to reach inactive account holders. People were given relevant information that enabled them to start collecting loyalty points again, providing a positive service that would benefit consumers long term and encouraged them to reengage with the brand. This focus on keeping people happy is crucial.
How can we be more Swedish?
We have reached a point whereby we have to fundamentally change our approach to how we treat people. It's little wonder that smaller more agile challenger brands are taking significant market share, based purely on a genuine customer centric approach.
Over and above all the characteristically Swedish value is the clear focus on the importance of of people that truly defines these successful brands. So, it's time to rethink your approach, understand the journey your customers actually take, and focus, refine and develop the core of your business around this. It will fundamentally improve the lives of consumers while ensuring definitive growth for your business.