Meet the Millennial.
They have taken over the digital world with their blogs, threads, tweets, grams, pins, snaps, and Yik Yaks. Now, they are taking over the marketplace. Millennials are a far larger group than the baby boomers and soon, they'll represent a third of all buying customers. Eventually, they'll dominate the largest wallet share of any generation in history.
As of right now, eighty million Millennials have solicited the help of service providers, yet customer service continues to be boomer-focused. Millennials will require a different customer service model. They have high service expectations - after all, they grew up with ever-present connectivity as a fact of life - and low patience for old fashioned analog systems that still pervade the customer service industry.
Here's a four-step guide to help you re-imagine and roll out the next generation of customer service, one Millennial at a time.
Step 1: Don't speak
Millennials have spent their formative years using services like Netflix, Google Maps, Uber, and Amazon. These are all technologies that have eradicated the need for human intervention. Take Netflix, a service that automatically personalizes movie selections to the user's taste and offers an intuitive user experience that all but eliminates the need for customer service in the traditional sense. The user is fully empowered to make their own purchase decision and would be mystified by somebody who showed up at their house to ask if they'd like some help choosing a movie that evening.
I don't mean to suggest that Millennials do not need customer service, only that if an app can do the job, they'll default to the app. Gen Y has a different understanding of when human interaction becomes necessary during the customer service lifecycle. This is particularly true when it comes to transactional details (e.g. order receipts or status updates). It would never occur to a Millennial to call an agent to find out whether their order has shipped. They'll expect an automatic notification by text or straight to their inbox. This means making sure your organization has a robust platform that can facilitate automated, multi-channel communication.
A good rule of thumb: let the customer initiate the interaction. Don't worry - if something goes wrong, they'll let you know.
Step 2: Make it quick
Millennials are speed freaks. If an app takes too long to load, they'll abandon it and use another. Raised on a steady diet of on-demand services (think Uber), they are first-rate multi-taskers who expect convenience. After all, their generation is twice as likely to buy their food at a convenience store, despite the markups, rather than traveling farther and paying less. Making transactions and interactions frictionless is of primary importance to Millennials. Customer response-rates, product shipments, service offers, and return policies all need to be as smooth as possible.
Step 3: Keep it real
Don't expect Millennials to use the same formulaic script as customer service agents. Gen Y is more informal than previous generations, has a different vocabulary (spend two minutes on Buzzfeed and you'll see what I mean), and uses many different channels to communicate. Let me be clear; I don't mean to suggest customer service reps start throwing slang into conversation. We've all been embarrassed by the "cool" parent routine. Rather, the goal is authenticity. If your Gen Y customer feels that the conversation is pivoting around their specific needs and not rooted in some ulterior marketing motive, a bond of trust will build between you.
Be transparent, listen, and show you care by delivering an experience that is both personalized and productive.
Step 4: Get on their level
Millennials are tech-savvy and adapt quickly to the latest digital trends. You will need to do the same if you want to deliver a multi-channel, frictionless, personalized customer experience. Lean on the support of a sophisticated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. No matter how dedicated customer service reps may be, they simply won't have access to the real-time behavioral data and rich historical data needed to provide a millennial-friendly service. Organizations will have to rely on the brainpower of analytics to synthesize thousands of data points and create meaningful context. Only then can customer service reps, sales agents, and marketing teams glean their customers' in-the-moment needs. For example, if a millennial customer makes a service call, a sophisticated CRM system can capture the conversation and add it to a case history. This will ensure the relevancy and personalization of each touchpoint with that person.
In just a few years, organizations will be facing a Millennial dominated marketplace. Customer service will have to adapt to be able to keep up with this hash-tagging, throw-backing, selfie-snapping generation. Not only will their numbers represent a huge portion of the customer economy, their way of getting things done will become the new norm. Ultimately, this isn't just about pandering to one part of the population. As all of Gen Y's parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are about to find out, it's about being proficient in the new normal.