5 Tips To Make Your Customer Experience Millennial Friendly

Author

Blake Morgan, Contributor

March 16, 2015

My dad does all the things that I do. He sends text messages, uses Skype, and talks to Siri. My brother taught my dad how to lock his iphone so I no longer get daily pocket calls from him.

For the most part baby boomers like my dad are just like millennials. For example 73% of millennials 18-24 say that “valuing my time” is the most important thing in providing good customer service.  (Source: Who Cares?! Transforming the Connection with Customers).

My dad feels that way too. He appreciates when people value his time. However because many millennials grew up with advanced technology their expectations are different than other generations. Millennials expect answers right away.

Millennials preference for customer channel in order of highest preference (reference: same report listed above):

digital 42.3%
social 36.4%
apps 32%
phone 29.4%

While there are a ton of similarities among baby boomers and millennials there are some key differences. For example 60 percent of boomers born before 1960 list the phone as the preferred channel. Millennials hate using the phone.

These key differences are the reason many major retailers are scrambling to make their customer experience more millennial friendly. In the Wall St. Journal it was recently reported that Target’s CEO is making a huge move toward a more millennial friendly grocery department–a big piece of Target’s business.

As a millennial and someone who enjoys writing about customer experience, I’ve created a list of five tips to help you attract and retain millennial customers. Feel free to add your own in the comments section of this article.

1. A Solid Digital and Social Experience Is A Must

While most companies haven’t explored enabling their agents to talk to customers via text message, many are diving in on  Twitter an equally mobile friendly way to talk to consumers. Many companies now answer questions on Facebook and in the weeds of other social networks such as Google+, YouTube, Instagram and more.

While many companies today use a listening and response tool for social media, many still ignore the customer comments that occur on off property communities. Consider the thousands of online communities where enthusiasts gather around topics of interest. Senior Forrester analyst Ian Jacobs points out in his article “Start Planning to Provide Social Customer Support Beyond Twitter and Facebook” that not engaging on off-property communities is a missed opportunity. He mentions his favorite community for frequent flyers called “ Flyertalk” and “Cruisecritic for the cruising fans, TripAdvisor for travel and hospitality broadly, AutomotiveForums for car enthusiasts” and the list goes on.

Many of your customers are leveraging the web through communities in addition to calling your call center. They might find information on a forum and expect your contact center agent to have an awareness about this fix, deal etc. Will your agent be ready? Will that agent be empowered to make an exception?

2. Personalized Experience That Remembers What Happened Yesterday

If 89% of customers say having to repeat information is their #1 frustration (Orange Silicon Valley report), you better be able to track and trace where your customers came from, and any effort they’ve already made to engage with you about their product. A popular example of this is when you call the bank and you call the debit department but you want to talk to the credit card department. All information must be repeated. This is a real way to kill the mood with the customer.

The idea is to capture as much data about your customer to personalize the experience and make it authentic. Consider Director Product Marketing Strategy at [24]7 inc. Daniel Hong’s comments in an interview for the Orange report mentioned earlier. He talks about how there is data to collect such as  (take a deep breath before reading this list) transaction history from ERP and CRM systems, real-time web and IVR data, location data, chat and voice interaction transcripts, billing information, agent performance and disposition data, survey data and social data—and all of that you can leverage to improve the customer experience in real time. The data is out there to create a personalized experience but most companies aren’t connecting the dots–generally because they have very disconnected technologies and lack standard workflows and processes. The problem isn’t the data, it’s knowing how to capture it and what to do with it.

3. You Must Be Ready To Engage In the Price Comparison Game

I was recently shopping at the San Jose, California Nordstrom looking for the right pair of jeans and the sales rep who was helping me actually offered to price check the jeans against Bloomingdales. While price checking against only one other retailer isn’t the complete solution, I was surprised and impressed that the in-store sales people were empowered to do this. Major retailers are making sure they are equipped to handle the inevitable check-out line question, “Why is your price higher than XYZ?” Companies like Best Buy, Wal-Mart and even Amazon are making efforts on competitive pricing. This allows the brands a leg up on consumers who are already using apps like Red Laser to find the best price on their phone while in a store.

Customers are not only comparing product prices on the web, they are considering if they would be better off not purchasing your product or service at all. Now millennials can borrow products and services. The sharing economy is popular among millennials who are able to save money, accumulate less and reduce their carbon footprint. Even me–generally a loyal Marriott customer–will rent my first AirBNB apartment on my trip to Prague later this month. Many millennials like me would gladly take the authentic charm, competitive price and non traditional amenities such as having a kitchen over a hotel.

Additionally the sharing economy has made an immense impact on who actually does the household shopping. Consider the grocery delivery service Instacart which has raised 55 million dollars. With most orders costing only $3.99 it’s hard to beat that convenience. I use it weekly.

The sharing economy is influenced by the fact that millennials don’t value luxury goods and services like other generations did. While in the past owning your own home was the ultimate symbol of status, today owning a home versus renting no longer pins you in a particular class. Millennials flock to the cities and find themselves renting longer without the commitment and risk of a mortgage.

Millennials spend their money on experiences more so than luxury goods and services. This infograph from Goldman Sachs gives a nice overview of millennial habits supporting these points.

4. Practice Conscious Capitalism and Diverse Executive Recruitment Practices undefined

While stuff went wrong throughout the lives of other generations, millennials have had to face the realities of some pretty scary truths about the planet. Corporations have the resources to make a tangible impact on the health of the planet and millennials want to see that happen. As a result they vote with their wallets.

Millennials are more apt to merge their commercial and social interests and in many cases they demand it. The popularity of companies like TOMS Shoes is a reflection of what millennials prefer–companies that give back and stand for something. If this is reflected in the customer experience the brand will have an easier time forging a relationship with millennials based on trust. If you’re a company that only appears to care about profits, millennials will be very turned off by that.

These are decisions that should be made at the c-suite. Speaking of the c-suite, millennials who might be considering working for you or buying from you care about who is running your company. A diverse board and leadership team will bring a lot of wealth and success to your company. My husband Jacob Morgan actually created a nice infograph on this topic that includes statistics on why having a diverse leadership team drives results. A few include the fast that women are buying your stuff. In fact women make over 85% of all purchasing decisions. Companies with at least one women on the board outperformed others by 26%. Additionally putting a woman on your board cuts your chance of going bankrupt by 20%.[/entity]

According to Jacob’s research women are also more reward based, democratic, team based and transformational–and this is why it can be compelling to hire women at the highest levels of the company.

Here is an exercise your HR team can do today. Go to your company website. If your leadership team on your website shows only men, you’re missing out on the many benefits of having women at the most senior levels of the company.

5. Real Time Isn’t Fast Enough

SLAs (service level agreements) need to be faster. Create workflows and processes that keep your agents nimble enough to respond in real time. If you create metrics that are smart, you will notice better agent behaviors and as a result, customer engagement. Don’t under-resource your program so your agents rush through the customer interactions. Managing volume and staffing in real time will also help with your ability to be agile for your millennial customers.

In conclusion Millennials purchasing power by 2017 will be $200 billion dollars annually. This is a demographic you need to be prepared for.

What are your thoughts? Are you a millennial who agrees or disagrees? Do you have millennial customers or employees who reflect these behaviors? please share with me in the comments section below.

This article was written by Blake Morgan from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Great ! Thanks for your subscription !

You will soon receive the first Content Loop Newsletter