International student reading in Street Cafe at LUT University campus

In the SMCEM company project, students work in groups of four to five people and assess companies' marketing and/or customer experience. The students can either act as “mystery shoppers” to achieve an authentic customer experience or study the company’s existing customers via e.g. interviews, surveys, and observation.

The course project is always tailored based on the specific requirements of the participating company. 

SYKE, a Lappeenranta-based health club, has participated in the course two times, in 2020 and 2022, as they are keen on developing their operations based on customer feedback. During both years, students have had a chance to test SYKE’s services for the duration of two months. They have been advised to focus on three areas: the marketing of the health club services both online and offline, the purchase process of the membership (during 2020 project), and the actual customer experience of using the health club’s three different locations and a variety of services they offer.

Midway to the course, the management of SYKE visited a course lecture and students had a chance to ask pre-prepared questions regarding the company’s operations in order to hone the suggestions for improvements. At the end of the course, students presented their assessments to SYKE management verbally and needed to be able to respond to questions related to their suggestions and experiences. In addition, SYKE received written reports containing justificated suggestions regarding the improvements. Importantly, SYKE also got to know which aspects students saw as the positive features in SYKE’s marketing and customer experience.

Based on the feedback we are able to redirect our focus on matters that really need more improvements

As an end result, students provided several concrete examples of how SYKE could improve its operations to serve its customers better. In addition, they pointed out what already worked well. Santeri Mikkola, the founder and CEO of SYKE commented on the results of the collaboration:

“We were amazed by the variety of ideas. Without the students’ consultation, we would have stayed focused on improving an aspect that was already working well from our customers' point of view. Based on the feedback we are able to redirect our focus on matters that really need more improvements”.

Student feedback from the course has always been very good, and students have expressed that they are very motivated to work on real-life projects that have relevance to companies such as SYKE.

SMCEM course participation possibility is offered to one company per year and participation is free of charge.