When you put the words service and business together, what you get is the curious phrase ‘service business’. Finnish engineers – and the people who sell their services – represent the global elite in service business. Nearly half of Metso’s net sales last year, for instance, consisted of different types of services, such as repairs, maintenance and consulting services.
We are great at creating and implementing new services, although once again it seems we have a tendency to overcomplicate things. When reading about service business and its challenges as defined by Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) and a few others, I could hardly understand a thing. Dreadful jargon.
Let’s forget the word service for a moment, because the Finnish service attitude, at least in Finland, is non-existent. In Central Europe you can find hotel bars with one person single-handedly taking care of all aspects of customer service. In Finland you’ll often see one person working, while the others talk amongst themselves, doing their best to avoid eye contact with customers.
It is easy to think of three services, or why not call them products, where Finnish competence is in a league of its own. These are private care for the elderly, the Finnish school system and our crisis management expertise, ranging from armed conflicts to oil spill cleanups.
The biggest success stories are often simple, and so is business logic. There is production, marketing and sales. All too often we are missing the key ingredient. On average, we are still only adequate salesmen at best. Being shy and tight-lipped is not in vogue around the world.