Alva, formerly Jyväskylän Energia, is a Finnish water and energy supplier. The company has an ambitious vision to become a visionary trailblazer in its field, with the ability to offer its customers ever greener and more sustainable technology options in the future, and at the same time significantly reduce heat and water waste.
Alva, which has operated locally for a long time, wants to grow into a nationwide operator and be recognized as a pioneer in customer focus, transparency and openness. Jukka Pennanen, the company’s VP of Customer Success, emphasizes that the vision cannot be brought to life by banging away alone.
“We want to act proactively towards our customers and at the same time influence the direction in which the entire industry is developing. Such a way of thinking is still somewhat rare in our field”, states Pennanen.
“We want to act proactively towards our customers and at the same time influence the direction in which the entire industry is developing.”
Building a new operating method has not been successful by snapping fingers, but has required systematic work from the company, such as dismantling silos and opening up the customer view to the entire group. All the pieces must have been put firmly into place. Also tools. Alva chose Salesforce as its one unified platform because of its almost limitless possibilities for utilization.
360° view to customers
Alva is in the middle of a change where its operations and the entire industry are undergoing constant turbulence. The growing freedom of customers’ choice and technological development bring about fierce competition, making continuous development of operations an absolute prerequisite for survival for the companies in the sector.
Pennanen is convinced that big changes can be achieved when things are done together. For Alva, this means not only cooperation with customers, but also close cooperation between the company’s various functions.
“We needed a unified view towards customers. Salesforce makes it possible to serve all the different functions of the organization in the same environment, so it isn’t limited to, say, just a sales tool.”
“We needed a unified view towards customers. Salesforce makes it possible to serve all the different functions of the organization in the same environment, so it isn’t limited to, say, just a sales tool.” When all functions from sales to customer service have similar access to customer information, clear visibility to customers is secured throughout the entire group. With this unified view, our customer understanding increases and we can serve our customers even better, Pennanen describes. Document automation provided by Documill also helps a lot.
According to Pennanen, the increase in transparency has already helped Alva develop its operations in a proactive direction.
As one concrete example of the development of operations, Pennanen mentions workshops that Alva organizes more and more with business customers. In the workshops, issues can be considered more from the perspective of the customer’s everyday life with an interdisciplinary approach, also considering environmental effects and resource efficiency.
The traditional roles are blurring
Pennanen says that the change in operating methods has also led to the blurring of the traditional roles in practice. For example, defining the role of a salesperson is more difficult than before when everyone has access to the same customer data.
“Our activities towards customers have already clearly increased. The customer is not always contacted by a salesperson. Instead, very different experts from our company participate in customer meetings. With a team-oriented approach, we can bring all our functions closer to the customer. We are speaking about quite a significant change in our field.”
“The customer is not always contacted by a salesperson. Instead, very different experts from our company participate in customer meetings. With a team-oriented approach, we can bring all our functions closer to the customer.”
Changing the company’s operating methods would not have been possible without the transparency brought by a common platform for the entire organization.
“We already use Salesforce widely but in the future, we want to expand the use of the platform even further. There will hardly be a function without Salesforce in daily use.”
Pennanen admits that the changes first caused a shock, but it quickly turned into enthusiasm. When the employees realized how the silos were breaking down and the growth in collaboration, they became more zealous about the new operating model. The feedback received from customers has also been encouraging.
“With less than a year behind us with Salesforce, we have already launched half a dozen new pilot projects together with the customer. We have already received a lot of new ideas for turning new services into products. At the same time, we have received particularly positive feedback for being more visible in our customers’ everyday life than before. I’m sure it will generate business results over time.”
Active interaction as a cornerstone of the partnership
Alva chose Biit as a partner, convinced by their references and business expertise. Pennanen says that he appreciated Biit’s way of taking the customer’s needs as the starting point. He is highly satisfied with the cooperation, he says.
“We have been able to constantly discuss ideas with the Biit people, even though it was not written into the contract.”
“I think active interaction is extremely important in a partnership. It ensures that the project truly succeeds. We have been able to constantly discuss ideas with the Biit people, even though it was not written into the contract. Things have progressed on schedule and when surprising situations have been encountered, reacting has been very fast. I would use fluency as the word to describe our cooperation, Pennanen concludes.”
Finally, Pennanen would like to remind you that no matter how visible the changes have already been, the journey has only just begun.
Alva offers water and energy services to consumers and business customers in the Jyväskylä and Viitasaari regions in Finland. After decades of local operations, the company has started to expand its footprint to the national, even partly international level.
This article was translated from a case study by our partner Biit. Read the original in Finnish.