Henri Kumpulainen, the CEO of Stemma Oy, a Finnish furniture retail chain, describes his company as follows: “Stemma is a fully Finnish furniture retail chain founded and owned by the retailers. Stemma was founded 42 years ago in 1974. Today, each Stemma store is an independent business with a different owner, but the center of the chain is Stemma Oy which takes care of the administrative tasks, marketing, branding, logistics, and other supportive processes to hold the chain together. Currently, there are 41 Stemma stores in Finland, located all the way from the Helsinki region to Ylitornio and Rovaniemi in Lapland. Risto Huovinen has been running Stemma Oulu for 13 years now – and will continue to do so until the day he retires, according to himself. The Stemma in Oulu is also known as Oulun Kalustehalli Oy, and the store is well-known to everyone in Oulu for its iconic location in Limingantulli. Both the CEO of the chain, Henri, and the CEO of Stemma Oulu, Henri, let us know how they perceive online customer service on their website.
Online customer service supports the new web shop
Stemma.fi has been offering online customer service provided by the Smilee online team since June, 2016. The web shop on the site has been established at the end of 2015, and the shop is still being developed on a constant basis. “Stemma.fi is especially meant for those consumers that want to make a purchas online. Often, this means customers who live far from a physical Stemma store”, Henri Kumpulainen says. “Currently, 90 percent of our online sales are due to the orders made by these customers. As these customers are not able to reach a physical store, it is crucial to offer the customer service online!” Risto Huovinen continues to describe the meaning of customer service online: “We want to give the online customer as much information about the products as we can. The goal is not only to increase online sales, but also to have more customers walk into our physical stores. These days, a lot of people want to do a little bit of research online before making the purchase decision”, Risto says.
“Customer service makes you stand out”
Both Risto Huovinen and Henri Kumpulainen, the two CEOs, agree on the importance of human-to-human customer service not only offline, but also online. “As you look through the webisites of both rival operators in the market and other businesses online, you notice that online customer service through chat has become increasingly popular. We wanted to try out online customer service on our own website as well, as the service gives us a chance to talk to the customer on the web, and to show and tell them things that we otherwise would not be able to do just through text and pictures”, Henri says. “Customer service is what makes you stand out in business today”, Risto continues. “People need help and support online as well. Today, people want information fast, and they do not want to spend a lot of time browsing through a website trying to find what they need. No matter how well your website is built, it might not be enough. Customer service leads the customer through the website all the way to making a purchase”, Risto says. “If the customer does not want to buy anything just yet, the online customer service representative can also suggest that the customer might want to go finish the shopping at a physical store later. When the customer arrives at the store, it is much easier for them to make the decision to buy, as they are already familiar with our offering. Here at Stemma Oulu we often welcome customers who have already talked to one of our online customer service reps, and who are already very convinced about what they want to buy”, Risto concludes. Check out the Stemma online shop and ask the customer service for help here!
“If the online customer does not want to buy anything just yet, the online customer service representative can also suggest that the customer might want to go finish the shopping at a physical store later. When the customer arrives at the store, it is much easier for them to make the decision to buy, as they are already familiar with our offering.”
Risto Huovinen, Stemma Oulu
Stemma is happy with online customer service because:
- The customers can do online research with the help of the customer service staff before entering a physical store – more sales
- The customers are more likely to make a purchase online
- Human-to-human customer service also to the customers who are not able to visit a physical Stemma store
- Online customer service makes Stemma stand out in the market