Are Stereotypes Costing You Customers? 6 Millennial Service Tips

millennials-300x240 (1)How well does your business know its Millennial customers and employees? As the Millennial Generation enters its twenties and thirties, they are becoming a powerful driving force in all aspects of business. Already, they will spend an estimated $200 billion annually by 2017, and they will comprise the majority of U.S. workers in 2015.

Separating the hype from the reality is a crucial element of communicating and providing customer service to this influential demographic. Here are six tips for designing communications and services that Millennials want to use.

1. Millennials are not their stereotypes.

As a Millennial myself, I can testify that the facts about Millennials, or Generation Y, are commonly misinterpreted. Images of the supremely narcissistic, phone-obsessed consumer and the praise-needy, unreliable employee have given the generation a bad reputation. Millennials’ expectations and goals are actually closer to those of older generations than what you have probably been told.

It is important to view Millennials not through their stereotypes, but as whole people. This includes understanding their value as consumers and employees.

2. What Millennials expect, older generations want too.

Millennials have career goals similar to older employees, according to the IBM Institute for Business Value study comparing Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers.  Some of these goals and expectations include: making a positive impact on the organization, helping solve social and/or environmental challenges, and working with a diverse group of people—things that most workers in every generation say are important. So you might be anticipating a bigger problem than Millennials actually present. Completely new company goals or strategies might not be needed, and maybe you can get away with some moderate adjustments. If anything, Millennials want to continue the progress many companies are already making.

However, the most notable difference between Millennials and older generations is real: their experience growing up with technology. As the first digital natives to join the workforce, Millennials have certain higher expectations regarding customer and employee experience. Because they know that a better experience is technologically easy these days, they are less patient with bad implementations of customer service technology.

But the fact is that all generations are upping their requirements for better customer service and increased mobility in the workplace. These outcomes stem from easy-to-use, up-to-date technologies. While Millennials expect businesses to use these technologies, older generations are not far behind, as they become more adapted to current technology. In effect, the standards Millennials demand are likely to be accepted, and even welcomed, by older generations.

3. Keep it honest.

One of the greatest attributes Millennials value as customers and employees is honesty. The IBM study found that Millennials want transparency from their bosses and appreciate the availability of information. They want to know their bosses are genuine and not withholding vital information from employees or the public. Millennials expect information to be accessible, and with better technology, this is often easy to do.

Forbes also reports that Millennials want authenticity from the companies with whom they do business. They want to be informed as consumers, and they want to understand the values of the company. Millennials are more likely to praise companies that showcase their values and ethics, and can back those up through behaviors.

4. Personal interactions are still valued.

Although Millennials have grown up with technology, they do not consider it the be-all and end-all of customer interactions.  IBM also found that they still prefer face-to-face interactions when it comes to learning new skills in the workplace.

This translates to their customer preferences as well. When Millennials experience problems with a product, they want to speak with real people in real time. In terms of customer support, they want to be transferred quickly and directly to someone who can walk them through the process and fix their problem. Like other generations, Millennials do not want to spend hours navigating an automated voice system. So when setting up a customer service center, it’s vital to set up clean, efficient call routing that quickly gets customers to the right person, who can solve their problems the first time.

5. Millennials want to collaborate with your company.

Millennials tend to view the lines between customer and provider as blurry. The product may belong to the company, but Millennials know they can build up or tear down a product with their power on social media.

Depending on their customer experience, Millennials will use technology and social media to praise or criticize a company. By posting their brand preferences on social media, they provide free marketing for businesses and have some effect on the popularity of certain products or goods.

Millennials’ desire to get involved in businesses extends to their ability to effectively use the products. Easy-to-use technology or navigable support websites allow Millennials to fix their own problems. And as a result, they feel good about the companies that value their time and needs. Successful customer service strategies should therefore provide opportunities for customers to “self-service,” since many people would rather take care of easy, routine matters without having to wait to interact with a human.

6. Treat Millennials as whole people.

Millennials want to know they are being valued as people. This means remembering who they are and recognizing their previous inquiries as a customer. If your business or call center can’t figure out that Sarah Smith calling on her cell phone is the same person on her email, you need to up your game.

What will impress Millennials the most? Providing excellent service and using technology that keeps track of their needs and personal contact information. For example, 8x8 Virtual Contact Center integrates with your customer management system (CRM) so that when clients call in, the screen pops up with their name, what product they use and past inquiries from any platform (phone call, email, chat). That gives your employees the information they need to deliver informed, personalized customer service. To achieve this, businesses must keep up-to-date and use smart technologies that interact with one another.

Finally, remember that most Millennials do not require much in terms of adjustments in the workplace or the marketplace. All they ask is for businesses to continue improving their ability to use technology, to create better customer and employee experiences.

Claire Noack

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Claire is a marketing intern at 8x8. She is an English major at University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. She is also a regular columnist at TommieMedia. [...] Read More >

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