Millennials are defined as the generation of young adults that are today between the ages of 18 and 29. With a population of over 80 million, they represent the second largest generation in the US today, just behind baby boomers in terms of absolute numbers.
Millennials are the first generation in history that is always “wired” and have never known a time in their life when computing and communications were not ubiquitous. As a result, technology is a defining characteristic of this generation and consequently, quick and effortless self-service is expected.
For the Millennial, one bad customer service experience often results in the loss of brand loyalty and fewer repeat purchases, which can ultimately mean a dramatic dip in revenues.
As early as 2006, the New Jersey Institute of Technology reported that the traits and characteristics of Millennials showed very distinct behaviors that were different from previous generations. And just recently—in February 2010—the Pew Internet Research further validated this research. So what, exactly, make Millennials so unique?
- Experiential learners: They learn by doing—not by reading a book or manual
- Digital natives: They have never known a world without technology
- Multi-taskers: They interact with their environment while engaged in multiple tasks.
- Accustomed to choice: They have grown up in an “environment of plenty” and see choices as a right, not a privilege
- Instant satisfaction: They expect to find products and services that satisfy their expectations on demand.
- Highly educated: They are likely to be the most highly educated generation ever.
- Selective on brand versus utility: The fact that they have always had new technologies come up as part of their growing experience means that Millennials are much less likely to be loyal to a brand than they are to the utility provided by the brand.
- Personalization: They expect to be able to personalize any product or service to reflect their personality. It starts with things as simple as ringtones and extends to the sort of interaction they expect from a company.
- Diversity: They are the most racially and linguistically diverse generation ever.
Marketers are very well aware of these Millennial traits and use it to their advantage when launching new products or targeting Millennials to purchase their products and/or services. However, as a result of these unique cultural and social traits of the Millennial, businesses are now presented with a new set of challenges when it comes to customer service and retention. For the Millennial, one bad customer service experience often results in the loss of brand loyalty and fewer repeat purchases, which can ultimately mean a dramatic dip in revenues.
Appealing to the Millennial Generation
Businesses are confronted with a generation that values self-service, switches loyalties upon encountering a bad experience, seeks support from sources other than the controlled offerings from a manufacturer and desires to find the support at their convenience. The chances of losing a customer by rubbing them the wrong way—either intentionally or otherwise—are greatly heightened. While these appear to be risks, businesses can benefit by implementing appropriate procedures and techniques to build loyalty within this generation of customers.
- Publish all information.
Millennials are highly unlikely to read a manual before using a product. As experiential learners, they value finding information that they need when they need it. This means it is impossible for a business to predict who needs what information—the long tail makes that an impossible exercise. Thus, businesses should make all relevant information readily available for customer self-service.
- Make information available where a Millennial would want to find it.
Millennials are the most networked generation ever. They prefer to search the Web and/or use their mobile devices to find the information they need. As a result, companies should make information available in the channels that Millennials most often use.
- Make the information available in the language of the customer.
Millennials are the most diverse generation thus far and look for personalization of all of their devices and interactions. By making information available when Millennials want it, where they need it and in the language that they understand best, businesses are taking the right steps to make their company “Millennial-ready.”
There are four key benefits of implementing these simple suggestions.
First, improved multilingual SEO: More content online improves content findability, linkbacks to Websites and overall site rank. Making content natively available in the language of the customer means that the customer can find the content by conducting native language searches thereby improving the perception of a personalized service.
Second, meeting expectations for responsiveness: 70 percent of Millennials expect customer support within a few minutes to no more than an hour. Being multi-taskers, Millennials prefer Web self-service over being on the phone with someone.
Third, cost-effective scaling: Enabling multilingual self-service across multiple channels is a fraction of the cost of supporting calls or losing a customer from dissatisfaction. Multilingual self-service via the call center is more expensive and difficult to achieve compared to providing multilingual self-service via the Internet.
And finally, reducing the volume of print: Minimizing printed content that few people read not only scores brownie points from an environmental perspective but also eliminates waste and reduces costs of distribution.
Factoring the cultural attributes of Millennials into an overall strategy of customer care can not only be beneficial in helping businesses manage costs effectively, but also in increasing relevance to a customer base. By making information available, increasing the number of channels in which it is delivered, and translating all information, businesses can prepare themselves to meet the expectations of Millennials and expand business opportunities to new demographics.