By Lindsay Sykes
There’s no shortage of stories about how millennials are carving their path through the workforce, to how they’re influencing tech, and their impact on the economy.
Over the past several years, we’ve seen a steady rise in what’s been dubbed the “experience economy” and this can certainly be attributed to the buying power of millennials. Millennials are known for doing things a little differently and how they shop is certainly no exception.
It would be easy to assume that millennials prefer online shopping over traditional brick and mortar, but that’s not actually the case. While they do shop online, when they decide to visit a store they’re doing more than simply shopping. They’re looking for a complete experience and for stores to be a destination.
Millennials have high expectations for a unique in-store experience and brick and mortar businesses must continue to raise the bar to meet or exceed their expectations, whether it’s by improving store atmosphere, the use of technology, in-store events, and even add-on services.
For example, Canadian athletic retailer Lululemon offers free tailoring services in-store and their customer service teams have handheld devices to quickly check if items are in stock or place orders for customers on the spot if line-ups are too long.
Here are four ways to stay ahead of millennials’ expectations in the experience economy:
#1. Enhance Their Experience
Millennials are incredibly self-sufficient meaning they value seamless experiences that aren’t broken up by needing assistance or having to deal with frontline staff when they could just do it themselves.
In a survey by Aspect, they found that nearly three out of four millennials prefer to solve their customer service issues on their own.
Brands need to make it easy for millennials to get the information or help they need, and not just online. This could be finding ways to integrate the online and in-person experience such as ordering movie tickets ahead of time to skip the box office, or the power to order snacks and have them delivered all from the comfort of theatre seats.
Millennials will specifically choose to do business with companies that enable them to self-serve. This means you need to provide things that help enhance their experience such as a live chat feature, or help to enhance their experience when they’re in-store. Making these additions means they’re less likely to get frustrated and decide not do business with a company.
#2. Make it Efficient
Millennials are known as the “on demand” generation. Having grown up with access to things like Netflix and Amazon Prime, they value speed and efficiency.
As a result, traditional customer experience (CX) needs to be revamped so that there’s less waiting and more action. Millennials are attracted to brands that understand this about them.
A great example is Chipotle, a restaurant that doesn’t have table service. This chain — that millennials love — is in direct opposition to generations past valuing the experience of a “sit down” meal.
What draws them to Chipotle is that it’s fast and efficient, it offers value, and they’re transparent — all of which align with millennials’ expectations.
The right technology can help support the drive for efficiency while also supporting outstanding customer experience by allowing front-line staff the right information at their fingertips. Plus, when trends or issues are identified, they can be noted and specific actions can be assigned to resolve them.
Large chains, like Starbucks, are starting to make strides in this area, offering the ability to place a mobile order ahead of time and then just walk into the store for pickup. Options like this are highly appealing to millennials because it both saves time and allows them to self-serve.
#3. Consistency is Key
Millennials expect brands to be everywhere they are. They want to be served on the platform that best works for them and for companies to be ready to quickly respond.
Whether it’s a customer service question via a Twitter DM or on your company’s Facebook page, you need to be able to serve them where they are.
One of the biggest challenges with offering a seamless experience at every touchpoint is ensuring that CX is consistent no matter where they may be interacting with your brand.
For this to happen, your CX programs need to focus on collecting relevant data so a seamless experience can be offered. The goal should be to create a holistic picture of every interaction a customer has with your company so you can service each customer according to their preferences.
Additionally, there needs to be an understanding of the customer journey so that points of delight or despair across any of these channels can be identified and addressed with specific actions.
#4. Personalize the Experience
Unlike previous generations, millennials want to share their information with you. They understand that the more they tell you, the better experience you can offer them.
Offering personalization can help drive loyalty and purchasing decisions, but with millennials, it’s about more than just adding their first name to an email.
This group of consumers wants to feel unique and that the brands they’re loyal to truly understand them. Personalization needs to be truly personal for it to stand out.
Sephora is an example of a company that is using personalization to create a memorable experience that keeps millennials coming back for more. Sephora offers different levels of personalized in-store free services based on a customer’s loyalty level. For example, their VIB and Rouge level members can receive a completely free 45-minute in-store makeover from a Sephora makeup artist.
For businesses to stay competitive and keep up with the expectations of millennial consumers, they need to stay agile and ahead of the curve. Anticipating what their customers are looking for and how they want to be serviced will be the key to turning millennials into loyal consumers.
Lindsay Sykes is the Director of Marketing at Intouch Insight. To get more actionable strategies on how to stay ahead of customer expectations and other CX strategies, sign up now to get your free copy of the Customer Experience Playbook: Designing a Winning Approach Whitepaper.