The millennial generation has become the single largest age group in the U.S. workforce and is projected to spend $1.4 trillion annually by 2020. As the first generation of digital natives to enter the workforce, they have also changed how businesses interact with customers, which also means forcing them to rethink how they deliver exceptional customer service.
That means understanding this new generation of spenders and what their priorities are. While voice is still a key medium for contact centers, it slips in the hierarchy of channels for Millennials, who rank alternative channels over voice according to an Orange Silicon Valley survey:
Perhaps more importantly, nearly three-quarters of Millennials say that “valuing my time” is the most important factor in meeting customer service expectations. What does that mean for your customer service teams? Here are a few tips for more effectively engaging with your millennial customers and giving them the experience they expect.
Millennials are used to using digital resources to solve problems on their own and prefer self-service to calling customer service. Knowing that, design your digital tools to drive self-service resolution and avoid the call. That includes everything from well-designed FAQ sections on your sites and intuitive account management via web and mobile apps, and automated outbound notifications and well-designed chatbots. Understanding what the most common questions and issues are is critical to designing the most efficient self-service capabilities. The more solutions you are able to provide through self-service, the fewer calls your call centers will have to handle, allowing your agents to focus on more effectively handling those situations that do result in calls. The efficiency of self-service will allow all your customers, including Millennials, to resolve their issues when it’s convenient for them, which includes times outside normal working hours.
Consider that more than 22 billion text messages are sent each day globally – more than 15 million per minute (not including app-to-app messaging like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger). Add to that the fact that 90 percent of consumers would like to be able to engage businesses via text message, and Millennials’ preference for digital channels and you have a solid case for text- and chat-enabled customer service. Messaging has the benefit of engaging customers in near-real time, allows customers to engage easily in situations where voice may be an inconvenience, but doesn’t come with a character limit, like Twitter. Chat-enabled websites and apps, along with SMS, give Millennials more digital options for solving issues conveniently. Importantly, these interactions can easily be added to customer records for future reference and data collected can be used to create even more effective self-service capabilities. Text is no longer a pure consumer-to-consumer tool – it’s time to make it part of your customer strategy.
There’s no question social media is a part of the customer experience today, and while it allows direct engagement with customers, it’s often accomplished in a public forum. But, understanding that Millennials are a sharing generation – they typically have no qualms with sharing information data, and experiences – Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social channels have become mobile-friendly channels for interacting with customers, especially when they have initiated a conversation. What’s important is to be able to track those conversations is customer records and to switch to more personal one-on-one channels when the need arises. Often, customers use social channels to get a company’s attention – especially when they are displeased with products or services – but many times the problem can’t be easily resolved without escalating to chat or email, or even voice or video.
It’s important to track both positive and negative social engagements to develop a deeper understanding of customer experiences in general, and to identify opportunities for improvement, whether on the product side or customer service side.
Contextual Omnichannel Experience
Understanding the entire customer journey is important to delivering efficient customer service – and meeting Millennials’ demand for valuing their time. Knowing their tendency to use multiple channels – whichever is most convenient at the moment – requires not only integrating them all into your contact center but also making every one of those engagements part of their customer data. Nothing is more frustrating to customers – all customers, not just Millennials – than having to repeat information, even if it was previously provided through a different channel or in a prior interaction. Make sure you log all engagements, including self-service and website navigation, to put every future interaction into proper context and reach a resolution faster. The data gleaned from all these engagements may even help proactively address customer concerns before they are aware of them, or at least before they have a chance to contact you.
Engage Your Entire Business
A key to efficiently meeting customer needs is making sure customer service reps – including field service personnel – have access to the entire business. Customers often have little time to dedicate to their customer service inquiries, and when they do engage, they expect a speedy resolution. Having a finely tuned unified business allows experts from any department to be easily added to conversations – regardless of channel – to help resolve concerns.
These various engagement strategies aren’t new – but they are being placed in the spotlight due to Millennials’ tendencies toward digital channels, self-service, and expedited resolution. To meet those demands, customer service teams must have the tools to remain flexible across channels and responsive to customers’ unique situations. The way to keep this new generation of customers satisfied is to engage with them on their terms.
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