April 20, 2015

Guest blog post: In wood procurement, knowing the clients' needs is the top priority

Janne Partanen

Communications and Customer Relations Manager, Stora Enso

Here at Stora Enso Wood Supply, we want to ensure the very best service in every encounter with our customer. Digital channels are one part of the overall customer experience, and it is clear that in the future, more and more private forest owners want to do business using digital and mobile devices. We are listening carefully to our clients, and our feedback system helps us to anticipate what our customers need, so that we are able to react to digital changes in time.

The idea is to offer the customers new digital services, but only the kind of services that the customers feel are meaningful and valuable to them. When we consider new digital services or products, we always ask ourselves: does it fulfill our customer promise? And even though the communications platforms change, the clients still want to feel that they are dealing with persons, not with a system – this is why customer experience is an important factor in digital time.

What comes to digital CEM, Stora Enso is a forerunner in Finland compared to its competitors in wood procurement business. Around 10 years ago, we launched our eForest service, which was something very new in the business and maybe a bit too much ahead of time for our customers. Nevertheless, it still has the kind of services that none of our competitors in Finland have. For example, when forest owners sell us wood, we offer them a digital service with which they can observe how the process proceeds. The service also makes clients' forest tax bookkeeping easier.

Recently the whole eForest service experienced a facelift that made it easier to use, which also made the customer experience better. But the work is not done. What we are missing now is the ability to offer more mobile solutions to our clients. We have started to see a demand for these solutions. Our competitors have newer systems, so right now they can introduce new services faster than we can. We have reacted to this situation by starting to develop applications for internal use first. This way we get to test our ideas, so that these new services can became available to customers in the near future.

As Tieto's Jaakko Vilén put it, the forest industry has indeed been slow in adapting digital CEM. But when it comes to wood procurement, the differences with banking or retail sector are not that big. The banks are already opening a path for us. As people get used to digital services in the banking sector, they will be ready to use digital systems for other purposes as well.

At Stora Enso, the number of contact requests we get via our webpage has grown rapidly. This number grew almost exponentially, after we made our website more user-friendly. However, our clientele is heterogeneous; some prefer to deal with us by phone as they might not yet have the necessary digital skills, while others choose to use digital platforms. To be able to serve all of our clientele, we still feel the need to offer them both, the new and the more traditional ways to communicate.

You can find Tieto´s Jaakko Vilen´s blog post here and Metsä Board´s Matti Ketonen´s blog posts here.

Janne Partanen is responsible for Stora Enso wood supply Finland's communications, marketing and forest owner relations. Also forest owners services (digital & traditional) are on his responsibility. Janne has a versatile experience of wood supply operations for 15 years. You can find Janne on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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