Crossing the Generational Divide: 4 Simple Truths About Your Millennial Customers

Posted by Rawool Sahu Today’s businesses are increasingly focused on how to please and appease millennials—more specifically, those 16-to-36-year-olds among us. As the largest generation in U.S. history, my generation holds significant purchasing power, of an estimated $200 billion annually. That figure is projected to double by 2020, according to Bloomberg Research. Undeniably, millennials are redefining customer experience, with our digitally savvy and self-reliant buying behavior. To meet the evolving customer service expectations of our demographic, brands need to do a lot of groundwork and preparation. Here are four simple truths about our expectations: 4 Simple Truths About Your Millennial Customers

  1. Millennials prefer a digital journey. It’s a well-known fact, by now: my peer group prefers digital self-serve channels as opposed to traditional customer service channels such as the phone. Digital channels of service are not limited to only the self-help or email channel. Chat has been, and continues to be, one of the significant channels in managing customer service and helping customers get the right answer fast. It’s my favorite mode of customer service, as it’s for me an easier method of conversation that allows time between interactions. Unlike traditional voice, there’s no set response time. In fact, I find faster agent response and resolution with chat. And I also have a documented history of my conversation with the agent.
  2. Millennials are self-reliant. As the most educated generation in history, we don’t want to be pushed through a process, we want to be empowered to self-serve. Essentially, millennials grew up with Google search at our fingertips. We know how to get to the information and background we need to make purchasing decisions. We’re independent thinkers. When we do have a concern, we like to go to an FAQ page, a troubleshooting guide, or community forum where customers can ask or answer questions, or receive any sort of walk through, either an article or video, where we can discover answers to our problems. And then, when its helpful to getting the right answer fast, we want intelligent and educated assistance that adds value to our interaction with a brand.
  3. Millennials want multi-channel choice. We’re changing platforms—from smartphones to laptops, multiple times an hour. And we want you to meet us there. Our expectation is that we can get the right answer fast - consistently, regardless of channel, device, or location. This means a unified customer experience strategy for all relevant channels. Millennial customers today switch channels based on convenience, and they expect the next channel they choose to get them started where they stopped on the previous channel. Another expectation is responsive design to ensure that a brand’s website renders properly on every device irrespective of screen size.
  4. Millennials want authentic engagement with brands. While millennials often prefer digital communication over voice, we still want relationships with our brands – or rather, we want brands to value us and give us personalized treatment. But we value authenticity, which comes with a true understanding of the company—from vision and mission to values and corporate social responsibility focus. Social media engagement is key here, in terms of developing personalized customer service. This requires businesses to ensure supporting technology and a robust customer database that includes details on customer name, contact preferences, and shopping/ spending patterns. We expect that from our brands, as we want to know them as well as they know us. For example, I participate in as many customer response surveys as I can (if they are of the short 5- to 7-question variety), so my voice is heard, and I can actually effect outcomes.

Crossing the Generational Divide So, what can we glean from these insights about my peers? Simply put, businesses should be prepared to meet their needs with self-service channels that help them get the right answer, fast. They need multiple channels with cross-channel integration, including self-service. Millenials expect service to be

  • Consistent
  • Quick
  • Proactive, guided by preferences
  • Present on multiple channels and cross-channel integrated
  • Focused on optimized CX


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