Is your customer service experience fit for purpose?
As we head deeper into 2017, the Millennial generation is now the largest domestically and worldwide, outnumbering even the Baby Boomer generation. It is more important than ever for organisations to ensure their customer service and contact centres are ready to serve these young customers the way they want to be served.
Research from Accenture reveals that 68% of all Millennials demand an integrated, seamless experience regardless of the channel.
In a survey of retail industry leaders, nearly 40% said the No.1 concern they have about Millennials is their lack of loyalty. However the Accenture research also finds that Millennials can be exceptionally loyal customers—provided they feel they’ve been treated right.
With ever-present access to the web, smartphone apps and comparison sites, it’s not just Millennials who have more knowledgeable about their options than ever before – which is why switching brands has become a national hobby.
When it comes to the technologies that enable these behaviours, it is true that Millennials tend to jump on them earlier in the Hype Cycle. However, when a technology does break through to the mainstream (the so-called Plateau of Productivity) it is usually only because Baby Boomers and Generation Xers have also adopted them in large numbers.
Millennial digital preferences
Are the digital preferences of Millennials really so different to those of their parents and grandparents?
In a recent study commissioned by Time magazine, it was shown that Millennials switch devices (TV, tablet, phone, laptop) an average of 27 times every non-working hour. This is great news from the contact centre perspective as it provides multiple ways of reaching them.
As for non-Millennials, the Time magazine study found that they too switched devices frequently, just a little less so – 17 times per non-working hour.
And it’s not just Millennials who show a preference for digital channels. For a report called “Maintaining the human touch in customer service”, contact centre outsourcer Echo surveyed 1,000 UK adults and found that 1 in 3 people over 65 “prefers to deal with businesses through digital channels including email, web self-serve, web chat, social media and mobile apps.” This is only 13% fewer than Millennials (46%).
Another recent survey, this time by Hubspot, shows that even the over-60s expected brands to have a presence on at least two different social media platforms.
Across all age groups, according to a study by customer conversation expert Stephen Van Belleghem, 40% of people “prefer self-service to human contact” while “70% expect the company website to include a self-service application.”
In short, it seems that when we dig a little deeper, the expectations and demands of Millennials are not at all dissimilar to those of older generations.
To deliver, you need to truly engage
Multiple recent studies have shown that consumers from different generations share many of the same priorities when it comes to interacting with brands: speed of response, friendliness, first contact resolution, accuracy and transparency.
What matters in 2017 are the content and quality of customer experiences delivered across multiple channels, and the efficiency of doing so, in terms of time, cost and resources.
Here are some of the things we have found which give companies advantages over their competitors;
- Ensure your customer-facing technology is intuitive and engages with customers throughout their journey. Personalise messages, products and services, even prices in real time based on customer data enhanced by analytics and modelling.
- Pre-empt customer service issues and create proactive up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.
- Automate customer interactions, transactions and entire back-end processes using chatbots and other AI applications.
- Communicate over multiple digital channels at the customer’s demand while ensuring consistency and fluidity of experience.
The more that you understand Millennials on a deeper, more individualised level, the better success you’ll have in actually influencing buying behaviour for them and other generations. As they share so many of their experiences via social media, the way you meet their expectations really can make them digitally empowered "brand ambassadors" of your business.
About Matt Hooper
Matt Hooper, SVP Global Marketing at IMImobile, is an experienced senior enterprise software marketer and general manager, with over 20 years in international marketing, customer experience, product management and business development. He joined IMImobile in 2015 from cloud compliance SaaS provider Cognia. Prior to that he worked with Boston-based Lavastorm Analytics, MDS, Colibria and as a founding executive of service delivery platform pioneer Elata. Matt has also held senior roles at Qualcomm, HP, BT Global, Orange and Parametric Technology. He is a chartered marketer and a certified RFU rugby coach.