Reetta Maila

Working as a service designer in Elisa’s Corporate Customers unit

In her work, Design Lead Reetta Maila, a service designer in Elisa’s Corporate Customers unit, comes into contact with a large number of companies from many different sectors, along with many challenges that need to be solved. Before she started at Elisa, she would never have believed how varied the work of a service designer could really be.

Reetta already has over a decade working in service design and agile, customer-focused development work. In her career, Reetta has already helped many companies and organisations to develop strategic innovation as part of a multidisciplined research group at Helsinki’s Aalto University. She has also served as a business and service design consultant, and has written a book about experimental development.

Three years ago, Reetta’s path brought her to Elisa when she started working with Elisa’s corporate customers. Now she helps clients develop their business operations, digitalising a variety of services, streamlining their processes to be customer oriented and – most importantly of all – improving the customer experience.

The sky is the limit for what Elisa’s service designers may end up doing

“Before I came to Elisa, I was listening to a former colleague singing the praises of what it’s like to work at Elisa. But when I started working here, I noticed that, honestly, the sky is the limit for what kinds of things I might end up doing here”, Reetta says with a smile.

Elisa’s CX Business Solutions team, which Reetta is part of, helps large enterprises, government bodies and municipalities to develop the customer experience in their services, for example in the context of helping people do what they need to do, or in data-based decision-making. The mission of Reetta and her team is to make sure that the voice of customer organisations’ own customers and employees is heard when decisions are being made, as well as to orchestrate co-development.

“For us, the most important thing in our work is to always start by clarifying the needs and goals of the client company. Whether the end result will be large or small, it must optimally serve our clients and their customers”, explains Reetta.

For example, many companies are not yet accustomed to systematically using customer data, even when “customer orientation” is mentioned in their strategy or when they’ve already been collecting feedback and data.

“We help them to get the most they can out of the data they have and to develop how customers can participate in this. For example, a consumer cooperative operating grocery stores in eastern Finland wanted to strengthen their relationship with their owner-members. They had previously been making decisions, and they wanted to get that sense of community back”, recounts Reetta.

The end result was an app called Raati (“Council”), where customers could have an impact on what went on in their local stores. In practice, this solution was implemented as a large, interactive touchscreen at the customer interface in stores. The local stores that the cooperative operated can now engage in dialogue with their own micro-audience through votes and customers can give them feedback directly.

“Traditionally, IT&C services have been offered with the product at the forefront – how the product can help customers. We put customer needs at the forefront – we respond to the needs of actual people. We develop new solutions, for example by removing bottlenecks or streamlining operations to improve customer and employee satisfaction. After that, we think about how technology can make this happen or support it”, says Reetta.

Working with customers proceeds according to service design sprint methodology. Initially, the problem is defined, and then it proceeds by describing concrete solution and prototyping. Reetta offers an illustrative example: at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Elisa and Helsinki University Hospital began working together with the shared goal of identifying the potential benefits of mobility data in helping to cope with the pandemic. At the beginning, however, they were not able to specify what value they might be able to derive from it.

“Sometimes, technology – or a technological possibility – exists, but it’s not clear what needs or problems it could solve. In these cases, co-development and service design processes help to move things forward. In this case, they already had the seed of an idea, but the goal was to get to the heart of the matter and create concrete solutions in an agile manner. Several municipalities took part in the development work”, explains Reetta.

According to Reetta, the agile nature of service design sprints means that the process moves forwards in just a few weeks from clarifying the goals, through co-development and testing demos, to the point where the solution can be taken into use. Now Helsinki University Hospital – and several other hospital districts – are using the service.

Big possibilities, modern working methods and the experimental culture maintain Reetta’s enthusiasm

“Sometimes, the most important development ideas or projects can last months or years, or don’t get done at all, if there isn’t enough expertise or available resources. Through these sprints, our team can get concrete specifications of the problem in a very short time. One thing I really like about Elisa is these modern working methods and the huge opportunities they create”, says Reetta.

Modern ways of doing things make Elisa’s working culture possible – a culture that includes a genuine desire to be at the forefront of new developments. A good example of this is the 5G network, which Elisa was among the first companies in the world to offer. As a company, Elisa is always looking to the future.

“In my opinion, continuously looking forward like this makes support from management possible, and also, for example, makes Elisa a good place to be with a positive atmosphere. Elisa puts a lot of emphasis on employee wellbeing, listening to the people who work here, and developing new internal working methods”, explains Reetta.

Additionally, Elisa supports its employees in learning new things, ensuring that they maintain a high level of expertise. Elisa also offers the opportunity for job rotation every couple of years to further improve its employees’ skillsets. This gives everyone the chance to experience new challenges within the company, as well as to bring their existing expertise to new areas.

“For me, something similar to job rotation happens naturally as part of my work because I work with so many different customers from different sectors”, says Reetta.