Over the past couple of years, much has been made about the impact Millennials have had on our society. It seems you can’t get more than a few clicks online before running into a headline about the generation’s demands, habits, or beliefs. Whether Millennials are any more demanding than the previous generations before them remains to be seen. Their impact, however, has certainly been felt in the customer service world.
Millennials came of age with the Internet, and that’s forever shaped their collective worldview. While traditions and preferences of previous eras were handed down from older, wiser relatives, modern etiquette is molded by the here and now. As attitudes about customer service continue to change, it’s worth examining the ways in which Millennials have shifted the industry.
Here are just a handful of changes Millennial consumers have incited in the world of customer service:
The world is getting smaller, thanks to the increased demands of consumers. You can shop for Chinese perfume, Peruvian sweaters, and Australian home decor without ever leaving your couch. Because of the increased globalization that Millennials are driving, consumers now expect to do business at any hour of the day. Regardless of time zones or traditional business hours, online shoppers demand service around the clock.
It’s not just shopping that’s impacted by this 24-hour expectation. Consumers of all services and products want to be able to speak with a representative when it is most convenient for their schedule. This had led to the proliferation of call centers – a term that too often invokes unfortunate stereotypes and old clichés. Millennial correlation or causation is still up for debate, but the wave of off-shore outsourcing that was so prevalent in the last couple decades has ebbed and the tide is turning back toward the United States when it comes to call center work. The call centers of modern America are typically staffed by US-based, highly-trained and experienced professionals who are eager to solve problems. They’re a must for any business that aims to stay relevant to Millennial consumers.
Communication Across Channels
Millennials aren’t known for their love of phone calls, at least in casual communication situations where they prefer more passive conversations that are spaced out over time. The development of text-based communications, like email, came at the same time as the Millennial generation was entering their middle and high school years. It’s no wonder so many Millennials developed a preference for texting, instant messaging and email correspondence. While some conversations on the phone are preferable or unavoidable, many Millennials will turn to other channels if given the option and it suits their situation.
For customer service workers, this means meeting the consumer where they’re most comfortable. With so much shopping being done online these days, it just makes sense to use a digital platform for communication. Beyond shifting towards virtual conversations, companies are also stepping up their staffing to ensure messages from consumers are addressed on every platform possible. In order to meet the demands of Millennials, you’ll need someone ready to tackle questions on Twitter, respond to inquiries via Facebook, send reminders over text and update shipping information over email – all without breaking a sweat.
The average Millennial is incredibly independent. As digital natives, they prefer to get in and out of shops, parking lots, restaurants and grocery stores with as little fuss as possible. Their do-it-yourself approach to service can be confusing for older generations. After all, shop employees were once expected to guide and support each customer who walked through the door.
As Millennial trends drive the customer service experience, it’s important to remember the differing expectations of each generation. While it’s impossible to please everyone, it’s nice to offer both self-service and hands-on support options for your customers. Empowering your customers to solve their own issues is always an important consideration. By allowing your clients some freedom to choose the degree of customer service they receive, you save valuable time and build customer relationships that feel more authentic.
While it’s true that Millennials often want a DIY-approach to checking out at the grocery store, they’re also big fans of personalized support when something goes wrong. 30 years ago, customers stood in a line to wait their turn to explain why they needed to make a return. Now, consumers expect your employees to pull up their order history, greet them by name, and handle their request with a smile – all within a few moments’ time.
This kind of personalized support is critical for certain types of shopping experiences, too. Online bespoke clothing companies, custom interior design apps, and other unique services offer a degree of personalization previously reserved for the very wealthy. The Internet is a great equalizer, though, and has made these services more accessible for the average shopper. By personalizing these experiences, companies make their customers feel truly special.
Refresh Your Approach to Customer Service
If your customer service strategies are feeling a little stale, it’s worth considering the ways in which Millennials interact with your brand. While not all of the aforementioned trends deserve a spot in every business, it may be a good idea to refresh your approach with these ideas in mind. Of course, you’ll want to ensure you have tried and true customer service tools like a live receptionist service or a call center partner ready when the phone rings. After all, if there’s anything Millennials hate, it’s getting sent to voicemail! But then again, does anyone like that?