Millennials, a group of the American population born between the 80s to mid 2000s, is the largest generation in the United States, accounting for roughly one-third of the U.S. population. Heavily rooted in technology (87% are using 2-3 tech devices daily), highly educated (61% have a college education, compared to 46% of Baby Boomers), and increasingly connected (75% have a social media profile), the Millennial cohort is expected to spend more than any other generation in U.S. history at an estimated $200 billion annually by 2017, and $10 trillion over the course of their lifetime. And not only are their wallets bigger—their expectations are as well. In fact, 55% of Millennials state their expectations have risen in the last three years, according to recent Conversion Research study. And as customer service continues to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, those businesses that tap into the needs and communication preferences of Millennial consumers could find themselves in an extremely lucrative position.
But despite the apparent need to cater to this demographic, many businesses haven’t quite hit the jackpot as it relates to adequately serving their Millennial customers. In fact, 56% of Millennial survey respondents moved their business from at least one company in the past year due to poor customer service. And according to Deloitte, 75% believe that businesses are focused on their own agendas rather than helping to improve society. And while organizations might currently be getting away with ignoring this group's needs and preferences, doing so for much longer will undoubtedly present them with a number of problems, as Millennials begin to dominate the buying landscape.
5 Ways to Better Serve your Millennial Customers:
Give them more control: An estimated 58% of Millennials want to have full control over how they engage with brands. And by 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human. By offering greater access to information through online knowledge bases, providing free-trials, and even self-service IVR options, give Millennials more control over their customer experience, while driving down operational costs. 69% of surveyed Millennials say they feel really good about both the company and themselves when they are able to answer a question or solve a problem related to that company on their own—something to consider.
Give them options: Being the tech-saavy, social generation that they are, Millennials want to use multiple forms of communication when interacting with businesses. Below are their customer channels of choice, in order of preference:
- Digital: 42.3%
- Social: 36.4%
- Apps: 32%
- Phone: 29.4%
While it can be easy for businesses to put the majority of their focus into one communication channel, it should never come at the expense of offering high quality service through another. Maintaining a diversified, multichannel communication strategy will be essential in keeping up with the Millennial cohort.
Be Fast: Speed is absolutely key when it comes to servicing Millennial consumers. In fact, 73% of 18-24 year-old Millennials say that “valuing my time” is the most important aspect in providing good customer service. But offering a truly streamlined customer service experience will require many businesses to take a second look at their technology and business processes. Integrating database management and communications platforms, efficiently routing customer service requests, and creating a unified communications strategy will each play a significant role in businesses’ ability to deliver faster and more personalized service to their customers.
Be Consistent: Millennials value consistency—in fact, 60% said the customer experience should be consistent across online, store, and mobile. And as they increasingly use more channels when engaging with businesses, and tend to be less brand loyal than previous generations, ensuring consistent levels of service across all verticals will play an essential role in businesses’ ability to retain them.
Get their feedback: Millennials want their voice to be heard. In fact, 42% say they are interested in helping companies develop future products and services. And they also tend to be less receptive to celebrity endorsements, and more interested in real customer experiences. Find ways to get your customers’ feedback (surveys, reviews, social media, blogs), use it to help improve your own products and services, and share it with others that may find it useful. Millennials value authenticity, and having honest conversations with them is the first step in achieving this.