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Micah Solomon: 3 Essential Secrets of Serving Millennial Customers

Micah Solomon
By Micah Solomon on Feb 6, 2017 3:25:41 PM

(That Will Help with the Rest of Your Customers Too)

All of your customers–in every single age bracket–have changed their expectations for how your business should treat them, due to the advent of digital and socially connected technologies. Although these digitally-driven changes are so widespread, they are most pronounced in the youngest major customer group: the large, digitally native generation, born 1980-2000 (give or take a few years).  

Millennial customers (the largest generation in both U.S. and world history, even larger than the baby boom at its height) have expectations that have been shaped by the generation’s lifetime immersion in the fast-evolving worlds of online commerce, search engines and on-the-go connectivity. For millennials, mobile phones have always been available. The Internet has always been on. These are customers who’ve rarely waited for letters to arrive by mail, who may have never waited in line at the bank, who’ve seldom had their musical choices limited to the radio or what can fit on a mass-marketed. Millennials have grown up at a time when it’s possible to align their shopping with their values—the chance to choose humane, green, fair trade, organic, employee owned and so forth, or not.

The nice thing is, if you can figure out how to successfully service this generation, those principles will also serve you well, now and in the future, with other generations of customers, including the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and even the soon-to-arrive-in-the-marketplace Gen Z. Why?  Because all of your customers, in every demographic, are quickly “turning millennial” themselves. As Christopher Hunsberger, EVP Global Products and Innovation, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, puts it,

“Millennial customers are an important group of guests in their own right. But their significance is more than that: They’re a unique group in terms of their impact on the rest of our customer base. The behaviors and expectations of the millennial group of guests tend to shape the thinking of the rest of us.”

In other words, while millennial customers may have customer service expectations that look the most unusual and cutting-edge today, the reality is that customers today of all ages are quickly learning to think differently about customer service and the customer experience. And the changes that you should be making today in your customer service and customer experience to please millennials truly will do double duty for your company; it will please not only millennial customers today but actively affect the appreciation of your service experience from all demographics of customers within a very short time.  As Ritz-Carlton’s President and COO, Herve Humler, told me recently, “When we develop something at The Ritz-Carlton for our millennial guests, our customers in other demographics want it as well–almost before we’re done rolling it out for the millennials.”

Here are three essential principles that will serve you well with millennial customers–as well as customers of all ages who are quickly adopting millennial expectations as customers.  

To learn more about how to serve Millennials, join Micah and Joshua March on February 22nd for the next Conversocial Webinar. 

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1. Don’t wear out your customers by making them contact your live employees for “Stupid Stuff™”

Millennials have different ideas of where humans should fit into customer service delivery. If an app or algorithm can deliver what they need, faster and with less customer effort required, so much the better. Which is one reason most millennials consult their smartphones first–even when they’re in your store and a human – a human paid to assist them – is standing at the ready. In particular, don’t wear them down by requiring them to contact you for the transactional details I generically refer to as Stupid Stuff™.  Don’t force customers to contact you due to your own bad design and lazy implementation. A millennial customer isn’t willing to call you to find out whether and when her order has shipped; she wants to proactively receive an automated, instant confirmation in her in box or on her phone. A millennial will be peeved if he has to call your company’s receptionist to track down your physical (read: GPS-friendly) address because only your PO Box is on your website.

This isn’t to say there’s no role for a human-to-human service interaction or contact.  (Far from it.) But the interaction should be at the choice of the customer, not because your systems are sloppy or incomplete.

Conversocial helps brands connect with the most important service queries on Social, Mobile channels, making sure they are visible and can be addressed without being lost in the noise. Thus, for agent and customer alike, Conversocial helps turn the chaos of social into structured customer moments.   

2. Customer self-determination is key

Allowing customers to control their own destiny needs to be a component of your new, millennial-friendly service model. Give up old notions of control and replace them with a transparent model that allows, wherever possible, your customer to be in the driver’s seat. For example, you need to embrace crowdsourcing: You can’t control product ratings, product discussions, or much else, except by providing the most extraordinary customer experience possible and letting your customers, and your critics, hash out their discussions of it in public.

Another part of customer self-determination is “end-channel resolution” (allowing the customer to stay in the channel that they chose in the first place).  This decreases customer effort–and, according to a recent Conversocial poll and study, reduced effort is essential boosting customer satisfaction.  (Even if you’re in a highly-regulated industry, you can now embrace “end-channel resolution.”Ask one of Conversocial's reps to share more.) Conversocial's engaement platform helps brands resolve in the most popular millennial channels to decrease friction and channel hopping.

3. Yesterday’s idea of “fast” isn’t fast enough

Millennials are superb multi-taskers who put a premium value on convenience. Millennials’ internal time clocks and customer expectations are shaped by the instant gratification they’ve grown accustomed to from the online/smartphone experience. Speed and efficiency are of the utmost importance: in how quickly you respond to a customer, ship to a customer, and offer up choices of product or service to a customer.

In social support, fast response times are absolutely essential, and highly correlated with customer satisfaction. With Conversocial’s functionality helping you stay on top of the social queries that require response– and helping you filter out the noise – you can increase your speed of response, and build greater customer satisfaction, as well as keeping small customer concerns from snowballing into much larger problems, as happened with, for example, the multiple system outages that plagued airlines in 2016.  (For more insight into airline response times and customer satisfaction, check out the Conversocial infographic, “Which airlines go the extra mile on the customer journey?”)

These are just a few ways that your brand can better engage with Millennials and the rest of your customer base. Be sure to join me and Joshua March, Conversocial's CEO on February 22nd, to learn the 5 Principles to Serving Millennial Customers. 

Save your seat to this webinar today! 
 

RESERVE MY SEAT 

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Topics: Best Practices, Thought Leadership, Millennials

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