A Few Things You Should Know About Your Millennial Customers

By Lisa Durant
On Jun 18, 2014
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Millennials, loosely defined as those born between the 1980s and early 2000s, are some of your newest customers (and employees). At Interactive Intelligence’s Interactions conference, I got the chance to listen to a panel of Millennials talk about their preferences for communicating with companies. Being a Millennial myself, I really wanted to extend this discussion; so, I took it to my own informal panel via one of the Millennial-created platforms that’s shaking up the customer experience space: Facebook.

Here are some of the main points that came up during both Interactive Intelligence’s panel and my own:

1. Millennials still use phones; we just prefer mobile ones. Believe it or not, we Millennials still pick up the phone and call companies when we have problems. Both the Millennials on Interactive’s panel as well as those I spoke with on Facebook said that they would call companies when they needed an immediate response or were dealing with a complicated issue.

They also admitted that their cell phones were almost always with them. “I need things to be accessible by mobile or tablet devices,” says one of my online panelists. “I want to be able to do anything that I can do on the computer (purchases, checking order status, click to chat, websites, etc.) on my mobile phone or tablet.” The panelists also said that mobile interaction through text messaging/SMS was much more likely to reach them versus an email. In fact, one panelist said she only checked her personal email once a week.

Nemertes investigated preferred customer communication channels in the Nemertes 2014-15 Enterprise Technology benchmark, and we will release those findings in just a couple of weeks, so be sure to stay tuned.

2. Millennials are worried about money. Money and savings came up repeatedly in different ways throughout Interactive’s panel discussion. Coupons and sales motivate Millennials; all of the panelists said they were far more likely to read text messages, emails, or ads that offered coupons. And, personally, I always fill out customer surveys that promise free rewards or coupons in return. We also love to compare prices online before making purchasing decisions.

3. Millennials do research before making decisions. Millennials use the Internet to compare more than just prices: we also use it to research your company and to compare customer service by reading reviews.  “Easy access to information about a business is very important to me,” says one of my online panelists. “If a company doesn’t have an online presence, chances are that I will not be doing business there.”

4. Millennials value efficiency –– but not at the expense of personal customer service. Millennials love technology that improves efficiency; for example, one of Interactive’s panelists mentioned that she noticed and preferred it when an agent had a record of her previous interactions with a company. But, above all else, Millennials value a personal touch to customer service. This can create tricky issues for contact center channels like social media or real-time chat, where many companies leverage robotic automation to improve efficiency.

I’ve spoken before about how automated social media responses can wreck your customer service ratings; the same could be true for real-time chat. “I’m always afraid that web chat is just purely automated,” says one Interactive panelist. The bottom line? Your mileage may vary, but robotic responses in real-time chat could be affecting your customer service ratings.

I will speak more about trends and best practices in multi-channel engagement, including some interesting information about real-time chat, once we release our Nemertes 2014-15 benchmark findings.

5. Millennials aren’t all that different from anyone else. I’ll bet more than a few of those reading this blog have thought to themselves “hey, this sounds a lot like me, but I’m not a Millennial.” If so, you’re in good company; it’s not just the Millennial generation carrying out these practices and holding these values. The shift towards mobility, efficiency, and personalized customer service is a global one. At the end of the day, your Millennial customers are people just like everyone else, and valuing people is a core business value.

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