Here at Viasat, we have the opportunity to work with airline partners on the cutting edge of the aviation industry. Over the next few months, we will be catching up with inspiring leaders at many of our partner organizations and learning more about their approach to innovation in the aviation industry.
Helsinki-based network airline, Finnair, provides a unique Nordic experience to passengers driven by core values of simplicity, courage and commitment to care. Bringing these values to life is Director of Customer Experience Development, Tiina Vesterinen, who is putting customers at the center of the airline’s physical and digital service innovations.
This fall, we had the opportunity to catch up with Tiina and discuss her approach to innovation and why she is a proud member of the Finnair team.
What is innovation to you?
Tiina: To me, innovation is a mindset; courage to think and use imagination, to try and learn. It can be very small or it can be big, but it should lead to something concrete that solves a problem or fulfills the need of a customer or the company. Furthermore, it cannot be a separate function or activity but needs to be built into the organization and its daily life.
What drives your passion for aviation?
Tiina: I am passionate about the unique way this industry brings together technology and human touch. Airlines are connecting the world and fulfilling such varied, often very emotional needs of our customers, and we really have a chance to make a difference. The possibilities to ease the customer journey with digital services are one side, but the face-to face-interaction with customers also play an important role. I joined Finnair, where I think both of these areas are really valued and used to complement each other.
What are you most proud of personally?
Tiina: I’m proud of being part of the Finnair journey. We have been investing heavily into customer experience – examples include our A350 aircraft, world-class internet connectivity on board and our amazing new Platinum Wing Lounge at Helsinki Airport. Customer is at the very core of our strategy and we develop our services – in both the digital and the physical word – very much from the customer perspective.
What does your airline do that makes you most proud?
Tiina: I’m proud of Finnair being a very forward-looking and innovative company. Coming from a small country in the North, our network has a global reach and we carry customers from all over the world. With all these customer groups in mind, we look broadly to the customer needs and improve the core experience, but also innovate new areas on top of that both in the physical and digital worlds.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through driving innovation?
Tiina: Working in a diverse team opens the world – I have colleagues from Europe, Asia and South America with very different backgrounds. Put yourself into the customer’s position and focus on the possibilities.
What is the greatest shift in aviation that you have seen throughout your career? Tiina: Digitalization and aircraft connectivity have opened up a world of possibilities to develop both the customer and employee experiences. As an example, our people all have iPhones equipped with our own employee apps – SkyGuest for the crew, Inspect and Turn for our mechanics, to name a few — that have real-time information and help make the customer journey as smooth as possible. With the help of new tools, combined with the empathy of our customer-serving professionals, the opportunities are huge. And this is just the start.
How do you see the aviation industry evolving in the coming years, and how does your role as innovator support the future of aviation?
Tiina: Introduction and wider use of new technologies and data will make customer journeys smoother and more seamless. When we keep the customer in the focus, and take the best of these changes, the possibilities are endless. I’m really excited to be part of this journey and will continue to work with the Finnair team to find these opportunities, try new ideas, learn from them and thus shape the experiences of the future.
What core strengths does it take to be a leader in your field?
Tiina: The environment with customer needs, available technologies, opportunities and challenges changes quickly, so both adapting to changes and leading changes are important. Also, I feel it’s important to have the capability to listen, to have a curious mind and structured toolkit and way of working.
What advice would you give to someone seeking your role?
Tiina: Having a versatile background and interest in technology and the softer side of things, as well as their interaction will provide a solid foundation to build on in this type of role. The environment with customer needs, available technologies, opportunities and challenges changes quickly, so the ability to adapt to and drive forward change is very important. Also, I feel it’s important to have the capability to listen, to have a curious mind and structured way of working. Working with the airline customer experiences is super exciting — I would really recommend it!