Founders of a customer service company, Happy Or Not, talk about their entrepreneurial experience. Started with an intention to monitor customer service and help firms to improve customer services, Heikki Vaananen, and Ville Levaniemi, built feedback terminals, in order to help customers answer questions about their experience.
The questions evaluated a variety of quality services of the businesses: whether the staff was friendly if the food was good enough, how long was the waiting time until service, etc. An array of questions of the sort appeared on the screen. Customers could provide feedback by pressing buttons, representing smiley faces, ranging from very happy, happy, little unhappy and very unhappy. Aptly named company, Happy Or Not would then communicate the feedback to the company in question.
“I thought it was a great idea,” says Ville Levaniemi, Happy Or Not’s co-founder. “But I was sure that someone must be already been doing something similar. But I had a good search online, and amazingly they weren’t. So we started planning the concept in 2008, and in 2009 we launched the business.”
Headquartered in Finland, Happy Or Not has extended its service feedback business to more than 4000 organizations running across 134 countries. French supermarket giant Carrefour, US chain Shoe Station, UK retailer Boots, London’s Heathrow Airport, San Francisco 49ers American football team, are a few of its prominent clients. The company hence also has offices today in West Palm Beach, Amsterdam, and Florida.
Presently, the company has more than 25,000 Happy Or Not terminals, which are been used for more than one billion times. Moreover, the company’s success can be evaluated on the basis, that customers are willing to pay an annual subscription for the service and the company has a turnover of worth more than a 10 million euros ($11.4m; £9m).
The brainchild of Heikki Vaananen, he started with the company after having faced poor customer service during his teenage years in Finland, when he would go to buy floppy disks from a “rude and dismissive” shop owner.
The chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, Joanna Causon, reported that was indeed pleasing that firms are willing to invest in high-quality customer service. “Customers are willing to pay more for better service and, in an uncertain economic climate, it is more important than ever that organizations get it right the first time,” she commented.
Good customer service is indeed crucial to run a business. “Disaffected employees will, in fact, turn customers away. Only 11% of consumers would consider buying from a company again after a bad experience with an employee and almost half would actively warn others against the organization,” Causon adds.