Creating service excellence – our superhero Hanna Viita brings holistic customer understanding to organizations

Marketing professional Hanna Viita has one of the most interesting career paths we have come across. She has seen it all, from Apple to Wärtsilä and from Finland to Poland and back. By excelling in services marketing and building customer-oriented organizations, she has helped steer many companies to international success. Recently, Hanna shared her professional passions with us and revealed the three most important lessons of her career.

Once again, we were fortunate to meet an inspiring marketing communications expert: Hanna Viita, Marketing Director at Wärtsilä Services. Indeed, not many people can say that their first job after graduation was at Apple – but Hanna can. She joined Apple’s Finnish branch when the company was not yet universally known, but was already rather unique.

“When I was in university, I did not yet really know what I wanted to become, but my passion for marketing truly began during my years at Apple. It was extremely educational and a great start for my career”, Hanna thinks back.

Since Apple, Hanna’s path has taken her to many interesting marketing positions in multiple international organizations. But it was not until 2010 that she realized her ultimate professional passion.

Discovering her professional purpose

After seeing the marketing world for nearly two decades, Hanna realized that in addition to more traditional marketing, she wanted to become an expert specifically in services marketing and to work in service organizations. In pursuit of that goal, she completed an Executive MBA program in Service Excellence. Little did she know beforehand that it would determine the course of her career.

“Today, we live in a service economy, and even industrial companies are re-positioning themselves as service companies. I find it compelling to develop organizations to become profoundly customer-focused. This includes everything from understanding customer needs and positioning to employee competencies and company culture. Going deeper into service excellence by earning my eMBA was one of the best decisions of my life”, Hanna notes.

Soon after deciding on the new course of her career, Hanna hit the bullseye and landed a job as Marketing Director at Wärtsilä Services.

“It hasn’t been just any job – my first task was to start building the customer need understanding practices and customer segmentation in the whole business unit and then implement them together with our sales colleagues. During the years I’ve been at Wärtsilä, we’ve managed to deepen and apply our customer understanding tremendously. Moreover, we are indeed considered a good benchmark, and many other companies have come to listen and learn how we’ve built a successful base for building customer understanding. It’s been a great journey and a success, based on how well all the functions work together”, Hanna says.

The power of networking and two other important lessons

Hanna has learned quite a lot through 20+ years of marketing and communications experience in five leading global organizations and one startup in two different countries. There are three key lessons in particular that she works by every day:

1. Have a clear message and state it

“This revelation came to me when I worked as Marketing Director at Nokia in Poland. There, I noticed that people were really listening to me with high expectations. I realized that it’s important to have a clear message and state it. Personally, I have two professional key messages or mantras that I want to emphasize. First, sales and marketing need to work in close cooperation. And second, make an extra effort on internal communication – you can’t do anything, unless you make sure your own organization is on board with what you are communicating.”

2. Network and listen to what others say

“Especially if you’re in a new position, make an effort to go around and meet as many people as you can. Think carefully about whom you need to meet and be interested in them and the things that are important to them. Moreover, hear others out first, before you start to promote your own things. Merely by listening, you may encounter incredible opportunities.”

3. Ensure continuous learning

“In the digital marketing world, things change rapidly and there is a lot of talk about marketing professionals’ continuous need to develop their expertise. It’s true that learning is everyone’s own responsibility, but as a team leader, I also want to actively scout what we need to learn as a team and make an effort to ensure that we learn those things and bring the lessons into our daily work. For that, we must understand our customers and the kind of marketing we need to do to reach them. In our marketing unit, we have divided into pairs, and each pair is responsible for organizing one training module from idea to execution – this has proven to be a very fruitful practice. Personally, I also develop myself by writing my own blog about service management. For me, writing thoughts down helps me understand different topics and improves my learning.”

This article was previously published in MC Engage’s (formerly Okimo Clinic) blog.