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Millennials Want to be Treated as People, Not a Case Number

Only a few years ago, the customer service journey was linear. If a customer needed additional information or help with an issue, they’d call a dedicated number, and the customer service representative on the other end would guide them from there. Today, that line has become a web. As the customer experience has evolved to include additional channels such as email, social media, online chat and mobile apps, businesses have been forced to rethink their infrastructure to not only allow for the integration of new channels, but that relevant information and data can flow easily between them.

This is especially true for organizations seeking to court Millennials. The first generation to be raised on many of the tools we use today, Millennials have a relationship with these channels unlike any of their predecessors. They’re comfortable bouncing between messaging platforms, emails and phone calls within minutes of each other. From a customer experience (CX) perspective, it has resulted in a fundamental shift in expectations.  As they increasingly flex their growing purchasing power, they seek a seamless one-to-one relationship with businesses – across interaction channels and time.

Millennial Customer Expectations

A majority of organizations are still getting up to speed in treating consumers with context and personalization across interactions and channels, with 70 percent of organizations reporting having no or few channels managed by common routing, reporting and teams according to Dimension Data’s 2017 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report. The result? Only a fraction of Millennials reports satisfaction with recent customer service experiences. Businesses who fully understand the millennial perspective and prioritize building a seamless omnichannel strategy will have much to gain in the coming years – especially as Millennials pave the way for future digitally-native generations. Here are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about Millennials and how they engage across various channels.

What’s causing frustration across the customer service journey?

One of the major disconnects between customer service organizations and customers themselves is that while businesses too often juggle multiple channels, with a separate infrastructure to support each individually, customers do not view interactions as in a vacuum. Rather, they look at it through the context of the larger relationship they have with each business. This makes it even more important that anytime a representative engages with a customer they have a complete and detailed record of that relationship to date, according to inContact’s CX Transformation Survey. Whether these engagements have taken place over email, online chat or phone call, any relevant information must be leveraged to present a holistic, comprehensive view of that customer’s journey.

Consider the following example: a customer books a reservation through his/her favorite airline. The day before takeoff, they receive a “do-not-reply” email saying that their flight time has been changed, putting their trip at risk. When the customer then goes online for service, chatting online with a customer service representative for several minutes with no progress, they decide it will be easier just to get someone on the phone. They then have to wait in the call queue to be connected, then re-explain their entire situation in hopes the issue can be resolved.

What went wrong here? First, the notification. While 60 percent of Millennials do prefer email for proactive outreach, a one-way push notification for a time sensitive issue doesn’t allow for a personalized response or two-way dialog.   This is a top priority for Millennials, as 53 percent polled rated personalized service a top influence on their experience. Second, the switch from chat to call. An overwhelming 72 percent of consumers expect to be able to continue talking with the same representative on the phone as they were talking with via online chat. The breakdown between these channels are red flags for Millennials who have known a seamless transition from platform to platform for most of their lives.

Millennials have higher standards than earlier generations

Anyone in Generation X or above will remember that in his or her youth, the primary source of information was the newspaper or cable television. For Millennials, those formative experiences were shaped by websites and, in their later years, mobile apps. Millennials saw firsthand the user interface transformation from the early years of the dot-com boom to today’s multi-platform experience, so they have no patience for clunky navigation or slow load speeds. In their eyes, these are mature channels and anything less than a seamless experience will have them asking, “why is my experience not a priority?”

The CX Transformation Survey mentioned earlier looked at how consumers rate various channels and on average, when it comes to self-service channels such as websites, apps, bots and IVR, there was a clear generational divide. Across the board, customer service ratings increased with age, meaning that younger generations are much harsher judges of poor experiences compared to their elders. One of the first things any business should ensure when building a millennial-friendly CX engine is that no matter the channel, the UI needs to be intuitive. If it takes more than several seconds to find a relevant customer service number or to open a chat, you’ve already damaged the customer experience.

There are steps you can take to improve the omnichannel customer service experience that will resonate with older customers and Millennials alike. No matter the channel, have a method in place that demonstrates a knowledge of previous purchase and customer service history – as it is repeatedly cited as an expectation of customers of all generations. The more you can create an environment that treats them as an individual, not as an isolated customer service case, the higher your customer satisfaction scores will rise.

Reputation is everything

Millennials are advertising wary, so authentic third-party validation is a very significant influence on how they view a company. A poor customer service experience will not only harm that individual relationship but will also turn away many more potential customers if shared on social media. On the upside, with 70 percent of today's consumers are willing to pay more for a product or service that has an excellent customer service reputation, consistent delivery of a seamless omnichannel experience can build a growing network of loyal – and profitable – Millennial customers.