Customer Service for the New Millennium

By Christian Evans, Junior KB Developer (Americas)

No matter where you look, you can’t avoid the buzz about the seemingly alien Millennials. This is the group of people born somewhere between the early 1980’s and the early 2000’s, coming after the Gen X and the Baby Boomers who just can’t seem to understand them. What makes them so different from their predecessors is a strikingly different world view, and it’s something worth paying attention to as they outnumber the Baby Boomers by nearly 8 million people.

What does this mean for the customer service industry? It means that expectations are changing and companies would do well to try and keep up. So what do these Millennials expect?

Taking Charge

Growing up in a world that taught them to rely primarily on themselves, members of the Millennial generation prefer finding their own answers rather than relying on a live person. In addition, growing up in a world with instant access to nearly any information they want has tailored their expectations, and they feel as though they have no time to waste on talking to someone when they could be finding the answer for themselves. In fact, according to a report entitled The Real Self Service Economy, via Entrepreneur, “40% of approximately 3,000 consumers in a global survey said they prefer self-service to human contact for their future contact with companies; 70% expect a company website to include a self-service application.” And if that wasn’t enough, HBR reports that “57% of inbound calls come from customers who first attempted to resolve their issue on the company’s website. And over 30% of callers are on the company’s website at the same time that they are talking to a rep on the phone.” It’s for this reason that companies need to have a thorough and easy to use web self-service platform.

Speaking the Language

Something that Millennials also don’t have the time for is unpacking complicated jargon and ineffective pre-recorded FAQs. They look for answers and help in the language that they themselves use and it’s important for companies to provide that to them. Jay Coldren of Marriott says, “The Millennials want to converse in their own language, according to their own rules. They speak in tweets, texts and Facebook posts. If you want to reach them, you have to speak in their native tongue. And you have to be completely authentic.” (via Forbes). Your customer service has to be able to adapt to the language that they use and be able to understand it completely so that the customer service experience fits the bill. This also means that you have to be willing to meet customers where they’re coming to you for help including, but not limited to, the phone, live chat on your own website, mobile applications for your company, forums on third party sites and, of course, social media.

Staying on Top

Offering the kind of customer service that Millennials look for also requires a company to perform maintenance on their service in order to keep themselves up to date and adapt to trends. That’s why it’s incredibly important to keep track of the number and kinds of conversations customers are having with your customer service team. For instance, a big part of what Millennials crave is ‘social care.’ In a study by Joe Gagnon and Jason Dorsey, they say that “This new generation will not tolerate waiting in lines, repeating their problem to five different people or being treated like a number. Companies that do not adapt risk obsolescence as Millennials become an economic powerhouse.” But it’s not just that they want to feel like they’re being treated like a person–they want to see that your company is comprised of people too. Millennials care about the values of your company when it comes to a wide variety of social, political and environmental issues and are more likely to feel positively about your company if your values align with their own. Customer service interactions are a great opportunity to show this caring and forward thinking and companies who pay attention will be successful in the end.

Putting it Together

Companies must appeal to a Millennial audience in the customer service channel in order to drive sales and increase loyalty. To do so, start developing strategies to drive interactions that empower customers to do more on their own, speaking their language by connecting them through the tools, devices and apps they like to use, and adjusting your customer support philosophies to satisfy their desires. But don’t forget to make it personal. Personalized interactions make a huge difference in building positive connections with your brand. And while it may seem like a lot to compute, the technology has adopted to help meet this demand. Smart technology like intelligent virtual agents, smart kiosks and IVRs can help you adapt to the new omnichannel customer service environment with ease. All you have to do is start listening to your Millennial customers.