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How Customer Service Must Adapt to the Largest Consumer Segment: Millennials

With ranks of over 76 million, Millennials have now overtaken boomers as the largest group of consumers in the United States. What makes this generation all the more important to consider when designing a customer service strategy is the power of their influence. According to a study by Edelman Intelligence, 74% of Millennials believe they can affect the purchase decisions of fellow Millennials as well as those of older generations, such as their baby boomer parents. Millennials are sharing more than just pictures of their lunches. 7 out of 10 said they felt it was their responsibility to share their customer service experiences, good or bad, with the people they know.  Population size by generation

And here’s something else you may not know -- Millennials follow through. Millennials are much more likely than non-Millennials to rate products or services online, to the tune of 64% vs. 46%. This means that people are going to hear about your millennial customers’ experience with your brand. Sadly, the majority of businesses are ignoring these powerhouse consumers – or at least not doing anything different to address how they interact with their favorite brands. According to Gallup, only 25% of millennial consumers are “fully engaged.” In fact, they have the lowest overall customer engagement score of any generation.

The reason for this, counter to common belief, is not that they are arbitrarily disloyal. They simply have high standards, expecting excellence from the businesses with which they interact. What defines excellence? A whopping 51.5% of Millennials will switch brands if they have a poor customer service experience. Given the multitude of options available to today’s consumer, why wouldn’t they? Once they do find a brand they like, 80% of Millennials will continue to give that brand their business. With widespread ball-dropping in terms of how Millennials are being treated by companies today, the door is quickly closing to seize a competitive advantage by engaging Millennials and treating them how they expect to be treated.

Below are five critical millennial customer service expectations and the corresponding strategies that will help your company better engage and win over this powerful and enormous market segment.

1. Millennials expect fast and accessible customer service.

Millennials are the first generation to grow up with smartphones, real-time responses, and constant access to information. As a result, they have come to expect this from the customer experience that brands provide. 71% report that the most important thing a business can do is value their time. 25% report expecting a response within ten minutes to a social media customer query, and that number jumps to over 30% when they reach out to customer service via text message.

Meeting this expectation requires a dynamic customer service mix of 24-hour availability via mobile chat and/or Facebook Messenger, digital chat agents, and giving front-line agents the authority – and the requisite skills and supporting technologies – to resolve issues quickly.

2. Millennials expect digital self-service.

“Millennials are self-reliant and technology dependent,” says Jason Dorsey, Chief Strategy Officer at The Center for Generational Kinetics. The research bears this out: Three out of four millennial customers prefer solving customer service issues on their own, online. Businesses should implement solutions like virtual agents to respond to this preference.

3. Millennials expect seamless, multi-channel customer service.

Only after Millennials have been unable to find answers via self-service will they turn to front-line customer service agents. When they do, 68% demand an integrated, seamless experience available on all channels. Millennial customers want to be able to start their customer search query online and transition to live chat, social media, mobile, and even a phone call without having to restate their issue again and again.

Accomplishing this requires an integrated customer service cloud that uses prediction to anticipate what consumers want to get done, in whichever channel they prefer, equipping customer operations, customer service, and customer experience professionals to engage consumers and resolve inquiries efficiently and effectively at every touchpoint.

4. Millennials expect a conversation.

As the most well-educated generation to-date, Millennials are not fooled by insincere customer service. Today’s young consumers want to engage with brands directly in ways that are genuine, transparent, and relevant. As a result, it is no longer enough for brands simply to exist on multiple social media and mobile platforms. When Millennials interact with brands, they want to feel that the interaction is authentic, meaningful, and responsive.

According to Accenture, Millennial consumers expect the brands they like and follow to be active participants in their online and live conversations, responding quickly to customer service inquiries.

5. Millennials expect convenience.

Millennials are “convenience consumers.” Contrary to popular belief, this does not necessarily mean that Millennials are lazy or impatient, but it does mean they demand the right information via the right channels at the right time. Utilizing advanced natural language technologies in your IVR or in the virtual agent can significantly improve user convenience, by making it easier for your customers to interact with you using familiar conversational language.

Ease and convenience can be enhanced during live interactions as well. Today’s best CX technologies allow voice agents to easily share interactive content with callers on their smartphones, leveraging the touch screen capabilities that Millennials love. Published studies show that customers, particularly Millennials, are anticipating more customer service channels available as options at all times to meet their needs.

You Need Fast, Integrated Solutions to Keep Up With Millennials’ Expectations.

Millennials live in a fast-paced, digital world that moves at the speed of innovation. Tired or antiquated CX technologies will drive this vitally important market segment away in droves. Below are the types of omnichannel technologies that Millennials are craving:

Verint Research-Digital Tipping Poin

  • Digital service channels such as live chat (32%) and mobile apps (27%), which scored highest in the study above on future investment.
  • Chat technology that makes customer service conversations more intuitive and makes escalation to a phone agent seamless with the transfer of information.
  • Texting (SMS) or Facebook Messenger to meet the Millennial need for social media outreach.
  • The ability for voice agents to share an “online canvas” that provides rich visual interaction between customers and agents during a call.
  • Speech technology that combines voice and digital channels for faster, easier digital journeys even when customers reach your IVR.
  • Virtual agents that let customers ask questions in natural language for more self-service resolutions or are used as tools by customer service agents for to improve both AHT and FCR.
  • The ability to reach a live, CX-oriented phone agent when needed, a technology that’s not going away.

*Chart via Verint: The Digital Tipping Point (2017)

How will your business adapt to better serve the next generation of customers? Share your comments below!

Topics: Strategy