Millennial Customer Service Changed Customer Expectations: How to Build Service Experiences that Meet the Lofty Expectations of Modern Customers
For years (and years and years), news outlets and industry publications alike have flooded the internet with reports on Millennials. Their spending habits, what they expect out of employers, their grandiose sense of self… the list goes on. The world has waited with extreme anticipation for Millennials to grow up and take over, changing life as we know it.
Only, with the oldest Millennials sitting in their early-40s and the youngest in their mid-20s, the generation actually slid into the workforce and nabbed consumer spending power quite some time ago. In fact, the Millennial generation is now the largest generation in the workforce, outpacing both Gen X and Baby Boomers. And, Gen Z, the youngsters born after Millennials, already have an estimated $143 Billion in purchasing power.
The reality is, modern customers are tech-savvy individuals who have dozens of ways to communicate, shop, and interact with your company. And, they have indeed changed the world as we know it.
Born into a coming-of-age era of technology, modern consumers, now comprised of both Millennials and Gen Z, engage with your company through technology, first. They expect near-perfect service and extreme personalization. And, they expect to reach out and get help how (and when) they want, regardless of your contact center’s limitations.
For these generations, experience wins out over all else. Gartner found consumers today decide if they’ll buy again from a company based on their experience before anything else. And, some 64% of people find customer experience more important than price when making a purchase.
To funnel the buying power, influence, and loyalty of modern customers to your company, you have to evolve your service and customer experience to meet their needs.
Modern Customers Demand More
Changing up your customer service strategies and experience to meet the expectations of modern customers determines whether you succeed or fail in today’s fast-paced world of business.
Modern customers expect experiences that mirror getting fresh ingredients, meal-prepped and ready to eat, delivered to their door every Tuesday. The experiences they get from innovative brands built on fast and reliable service; they expect from every other company they interact with, too.
Nowadays, customers want personalization at every step in their journey. Some 70% of customers say a seamless move between channels and conversations backed by context are crucial to winning their business. And, 33% of consumers have even ditched a brand because their experience wasn’t personalized enough.
Not to mention, modern customers have the option to reach out for help by phone, text, chat, email, social media, and even voice assistants. I can stand in my kitchen and ask a speaker to Google an answer for me. Or, to order myself a new pair of socks. Thumbs up to that.
Technology and innovation have knocked down barriers on the modern customer’s quest for information. And new tools introduced daily remove more effort from the consumer experience.
Sharpen’s contact center platform knocks down barriers to better customer service. Learn about Sharpen Empower.
Voice isn’t the preferred channel of communication for modern customers
Though they value the relationships they have with companies, modern customers want to be more self-sufficient when it comes to customer service.
In the 2017 Customer Service Barometer survey, American Express found 60% of customers look to self-service options before reaching out to a person for help. Not only that but, 70% of millennials actually expect self-service from companies they do business with.
They want to pay their bills online, reset their password with a few button clicks and keystrokes, and track a page from their phones.
Only 19% of Millennials choose to pick up the phone and call customer service when given other channels as an option. Voice is still preferred for more complex customer service questions, but modern customers are happy to solve problems with the help of a knowledge base or online FAQ when given the option.
The Center for Generational Kinetics found Millennials flock to digital channels, first. And, Gen Z follows the same pattern, too.
When Millennials do have to reach out to a company, they prefer to communicate in this order:
- Text and messaging apps (like WhatsApp and Slack)
- Email – when it’s delivered with a snappy subject line
- Social media
- Phone call
Invest in digital channels to woo modern customers and build their loyalty. It makes help more accessible for your customers, and it’s good for your bottom line.
Not only do digital channels create easier and quicker paths to resolutions, they also take up less time handling repetitive calls and customer questions. Freeing up your agents to handle more complex interactions and give more of their attention to bigger issues.
3 Steps to Evolve Your Service for the Modern Customer
With knowledge about what modern customers want and expect in hand, it’s time to evolve your customer experience.
We’re sharing three steps to separate yourself from the competition and win over modern customers.
1. Use data to inform your customer service and experience strategies.
Your contact center platform houses thousands of data points that can be turned into deep intel about what your customers want and need. With access to daily interactions, buying journeys, and entire customer lifecycles, you should never operate in the dark.
Disparate systems and contact center silos might prevent you from getting the full 360-degree view of customers that you want and deserve, but your data is still a powerhouse. It gives you knowledge into the minds and behaviors of your customers.
Use it. Learn from it. Create reports and dashboards focused on your customer outcomes. Collect feedback through customer surveys and feedback tools. Listen to call recordings and analyze transcriptions to learn how your customers feel during interactions. Better yet, have bots and sentiment analysis do it for you.
Don’t stop with the information pouring into your contact center, either.
With unlimited access to online reviews, social media conversations, and industry chatter, there’s plenty of room to uncover how you’re meeting customer expectations (and where you’re coming up short).
Once you know what’s serving your customers (and what’s not) capitalize on the good and get rid of the bad. Inform your customer experience strategies with real data about your customers. Then, turn that strategy into a plan of action – one with built in flexibility, so you can shift as customer expectations shift, too.
Learn how to use the data you already have on hand to build your customer experience strategies. (Yeah, I want to increase the usability of my data!)
2. Invest in true omnichannel.
Data collected from thousands of contact centers says growing digital channels was the leading contact center priority in 2019.
As voice fades away as the preferred channel, companies seek to add new digital channels to the mix. (Hence: improving the knowledge base is the second leading priority on the contact center docket).
Customers want a seamless and consistent service experience, no matter how they reach out. And, companies are taking note.
Use the data you harvested in step one to inform a strategy for an omnichannel contact center. Learn what channels your customers flock to, and lean on your vendor to add these channels to your list of queues.
Here are two examples where data points you to improve your digital channels:
1. Simple, repeatable issues keep popping up.
Reading through transcriptions while you coach your agents, you find the majority of your inbound calls relate to simple account issues. Customers keep forgetting their passwords (and security questions). They need to update their address and billing information. Or, they can’t check their order status.
These simple, repeatable service tickets are ripe to be solved with self-service options. If partnering with your marketing team to write a quick article on “how to reset your password” will ward off 100 calls a week, it’s well worth the short time investment. Your customers (and your agents) will thank you.
2. Your social inboxes are flooded.
Complaints are pouring in on your social media channels, but your agents don’t have admin access to your social media accounts. And, they don’t have time to sift through your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see who’s reached out for help. This means complaints sit unanswered in a Facebook Messenger inbox with a rising red notification count.
Leaving customer issues unresolved breeds disloyalty. A flooded social media inbox tells you that your contact center (and customers) would benefit from adding social media queues to your contact center platform. Then, social interactions would route to an available agent, just like any other channel.
Work with your partner vendors and IT to offer customers a true omnichannel experience. You’ll attract and retain modern customers for years to come.
3. Commit to change now.
Too often, companies put off changing their systems or processes out of fear of disruption. Leaders feel there’s too much risk in changing how they operate. “What will customers think if we change the way we’ve always done things?”
But the real question is, what will they think if you don’t?
The world changes around us every day. And the needs of modern customers will continue to shift, too.
In fact, while Millennials and Gen Z have an insane amount of purchasing power already, that power will only grow. The Center for Generational Kinetics found that Millennials are accumulating wealth later in life than previous generations. Meaning, their full disposable income hasn’t even hit their pockets yet. Not only that but, the generation has influence over other generations, too.
Because of their connection and influence on their boomer parents (and Gen X coworkers), Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are starting to communicate, shop, and buy similarly to Millennials.
All that buying power and influence adds up to make-or-break impacts on your business.
- have the greatest lifetime value of any customer.
- Are incredibly loyal once they choose a brand, service, or company.
- And, are most likely to refer their friends when they have a good shopping or buying experience.
The biggest risk to your company isn’t introducing change. It’s failing to meet the needs of modern customers because you stayed the same.
To update your systems and retool your processes, you need buy-in (and help) from IT. Get your IT leaders on board with changes to your contact center.
We originally published this post on November 20, 2016, and we updated it on December 13, 2019.