Mitto on the Street: Stockholm

We were curious to see first-hand how omnichannel communication affects regular people’s lives when they are on the move. Recently, we caught up with some folks in Stockholm, the capital […]

We were curious to see first-hand how omnichannel communication affects regular people’s lives when they are on the move. Recently, we caught up with some folks in Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden and the home to such international brands as Spotify, H&M, and Ikea. We spoke with residents and tourists alike to learn some use cases that are especially helpful during these warm summer months. Let’s discover what businesses are doing well and maybe some things they could do better.

Rideshare and transportation – Alerts, notifications, and reminders

We spoke to Bjorn outside Stockholm central station, the main train depot in the city center. Bjorn had just disembarked from Gavle, a town about two hours north. He was heading to the city to meet up with friends and family for midsummer, a treasured tradition in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe that celebrates the summer solstice. Practices include dancing around a midsummer pole, singing songs, and drinking the famous Swedish schnapps. We asked Bjorn how business messaging was helping him on his trip.

Bjorn – Stockholm has excellent public transportation, and I depend on it to get around when I’m in town. Most people here opt not to have cars either because they don’t need them or because they feel parking and maintaining a vehicle is too costly. One can use the same card to ride any array of trains, subways, buses, and ferries. Yes – ferries, Stockholm is actually comprised of 30,000 islands. We can easily top up our transport cards by using services such as WhatsApp or our national mobile payment system Swish.  Additionally, we can use SMS and WhatsApp to get live updates on train schedules, so if there is a delay, we can adjust our plans.

Mitto– So you rely exclusively on public transportation to get around?

Bjorn – Not quite. Summer in Sweden can change quickly. It’s not uncommon for it to be sunny one minute and storm the next, so I also use rideshare services quite often. Apps like Uber and Bolt are linked directly to our taxi service as well, so if I get caught in a rain storm, I can pivot to a more direct route and arrive at my destination dry. I not only get texts from my driver about their arrival time, but then I can use this channel to communicate with them directly if I need to change my route or if I perhaps leave something behind in the car. The app also hides my phone number to protect my privacy, making me feel safer.

Mitto– And What is one thing you would like to see this industry do better?

Bjorn– Stockholm is a global city, and not everyone always has access to SMS if they are, say, an American traveling without a European SIM card. Data, however, is easily accessible here, so channels such as WhatsApp and Messenger have widespread adoption. I would love it if some of these rideshare companies would let me opt into communicating with them via the channel of my choice; I think that would be an improvement over the current system.

Mitto – Thanks for your time, Bjorn. Enjoy your midsummer.

Bjorn – Skol!

Hotels – P2P communication

Just down the street from Central Station, we bumped into an American named Sarah at the bar of the Scandic Haymarket, a trendy hotel in central Stockholm. Scandic is one of the largest hotel chains in Scandinavia and is popular with young couples and families; they pride themselves on customer service. Sarah was in town with her Swedish husband to attend a Beyonce concert at Friends Arena. We asked her how the trip was going so far.

Sarah– I love it here, and I really enjoy this hotel. They gave me a WhatsApp number to communicate with the front desk, the concierge, and even housekeeping. I’m down here right now having a drink because my room is being cleaned, but the minute they’re done, I’ll get a message saying I can come up. What’s more, I messaged the concierge earlier, who booked us a restaurant for tonight, and the front desk just asked me to give them a 15-minute heads up when I’m ready for a cab. I don’t have to wait in the lobby; they will let me know when my ride arrives. I would equate this type of service with a five-star hotel, but it shows how easy it is to make a guest feel special by just opening up a line of communication.

Mitto– That sounds pretty great. Has that made you think about how this could work in other industries?

Sarah – Absolutely, I mean, there are so many times every day I want to speak directly to a brand, and sometimes it feels like I’m screaming into the void. I appreciate when a company uses a chatbot because sometimes that can answer my questions, but there really is nothing like having an actual human at your fingertips. I sometimes try to flag down a rep on Twitter, but the turnaround time can be over 12 hours. I wish more companies across all industries would make person-to-person interaction easier – and this whole “text the hotel” experience has been a revelation; I don’t know why more hotel chains in North America aren’t leveraging it. I’m not sure if it’s standard in Sweden, but I will definitely return to this hotel for future visits.

Mitto – Enjoy the Beyonce show!

Shopping – Loyalty Programs and alerts

Finally, we met Carin on the island of Djurgården as she was coming out of the ABBA museum (yes, Stockholm has an ABBA museum, and yes, it is fantastic.) Carin lives in the small town of Sandviken, about 90 minutes northeast of the city, and often comes to town on shopping holidays, especially in the summer.   

Mitto – So Carin, what makes Stockholm so attractive as a shopping destination?

Carin – On the one hand, it’s an excuse to visit. I can come down early on a Friday, hit all of my favorite stores and even a museum – actually two today – I’m going to the Vasa Museum next and still make it home for dinner. But the real reason I come down is because I’m highly motivated by savings. All of my favorite brands are here and typically within a short walk. Gant, Boomerang, and Peak Performance all have flagship stores here, and they all run great flash sales that can get me into the store within 24 hours. See, Sweden, like many parts of Europe, will more or less shut down for July and August, with many workers going on six weeks of holiday, so June always is a great month to go shopping because companies want to push through their summer stock. By the time I get back from my Australian vacation in September, the tee shirts and shorts will all be gone, replaced by jackets and scarves for the cold weather months.

Mitto – What are brands doing specifically to get you in the store?

Carin – Usually, it’s a message from one of my favorite companies announcing a big sale, like 40% off. But again, because all of the companies are in the same boat, there are sales everywhere, so I look for personalized notifications that show the brand truly values me. Today, Gant told me that my favorite style of dress is buy two get one free. They know that I like that dress because I bought two last summer. A generic ‘sale’ text may excite me a little, but this immediately put me in the car.

Mitto – What else are these companies doing well?

CarinLoyalty programs! In addition to getting buy two get one free, I receive an additional 20% off because I’m on their mailing list, and I’ve opted into receiving messages from them. I can also communicate with brands beforehand and let them know I’m coming. They’ll even set aside some clothes they think I might like based on past purchases, so if I’m pressed for time, I can show up and look through a pre-curated selection. It’s like having a personal shopper. These are little perks that move the needle for me, I feel valued, and the company has built a lot of trust and goodwill with me.

Mitto – Well, it sounds like someone is ready to spend some money; thanks for stopping by, Carin.

The people have spoken

 As you can see, the people love omnichannel and whether they are at home or abroad rely on it quite a bit in their daily lives. Are you ready to start providing a better customer experience? To learn about how to implement the best omnichannel solution for your business contact Mitto today.