Millennials will soon make up most of your customer base. And this shift is going to have repercussions for your contact center.
Your world as a contact center is going to change because the history of communication is all about change. Go all the way back to the first methods of communication and you find people contacting each other through cave paintings and pictograms.
Over the years, groups of individuals developed spoken language. Then they developed a way to record their language in written form. After the invention of electricity, the telephone arrived as a new way to communicate over vast distances. The telephone, that amazing, earth-shattering technological invention, forever changed the way people all over the world communicate.
After the industrial age arrived, followed by the age of mass production, the telephone became a household item and no longer a novelty. Following the telephone came the growth of consumerism, we see the beginnings of the call center.
The first call centers consisted of massive, manually operated switchboards, literally boards filled with switches. The switchboard was the catalyst for a career in customer service as a switchboard operator, or simply, an operator. Switchboards finally evolved into the traditional call center.
Today’s communications methods go well beyond the humble telephone, and the old call center has evolved to become the modern contact center. Contact centers no longer handle just millions of telephone calls. They handle emails, chat, text and social media messages.
And this brings us to millennials, the demographic that will soon be transforming your contact center if it hasn’t already.
Who Is the Millennial Consumer?
Millennials are the generation born between 1981 and 1996. They were born after the Baby Boomer Generation (1946-1964) and after Generation X (1965-1980). They will be followed by Generation Z (1997-2012) and Generation Alpha (early 2010s-mid 2020s).
According to research conducted by LinkedIn,
- The majority of millennials are more tech-savvy than other generations, although Generation Z may soon surpass them.
- Millennials are multitasking pros and can juggle many responsibilities at once. This also means they are easily distracted and find social media and texting hard to resist.
- Millennials know everything there is to know about social media because they are living it. They are constantly perusing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more — it’s how they share and get information.
Millennials are digital natives. According to the Pew Research Center, more than nine in ten millennials own a smartphone, compared with 90% of Gen X-ers and 68% of baby boomers. Millennials are the first generation to grow up with the Internet, social media and mobile phones. They know nothing of life without any of these technologies.
“According to Experian, mobile usage for millennials is 14% higher than it is for older consumer groups. According to Pew Internet, more than 50% of younger millennials say mobile devices (primarily mobile phones) are the primary way that they access the Internet.” from Marketing Deep Dive. Indeed, around 28% of millennials are smartphone-only Internet users. In other words, the only Internet access they have is the one they carry in their pocket. They do not have traditional broadband service at home (Pew Research Center).
Millennials and Shopping
- Millennials shop differently than previous generations. Research conducted by Accenture notes that 68% of millennials demand the convenience of omnichannel accessibility during their shopping journey.
- Accenture reports that 68% of millennials demand an integrated, seamless shopping experience regardless of channel.
- Around 82% of millennials say word-of-mouth is a key influencer in their purchase decisions (Synchrony).
- Up to 90% of millennials research product reviews online before they buy a product or service (Synchrony).
Why Does the Millennial Customer Dislike Contact Centers?
Considering that millennials are the first generation in the history of civilization and the history of communication to have a phone attached to their hips at all times, millennials dislike talking on the phone.
BankMyCell reports that millennials find phone calls “too time-consuming.” They cite this as their top reason for avoiding phone calls. Millennials and Generation Z have even been dubbed “The Post-Phone Call Generation”.
Millennials don’t just hate phones because they are too consuming. They also dislike having to make small talk and exchange greetings, pleasantries and social niceties over the phone. Millennials would much prefer to exchange a series of text messages. A bunch of short text messages, in their view, accomplishes the same as a long phone call without any of the aggravation.
And speaking of aggravation, millennials experience a measurable degree of anxiety when using the phone. Again, according to research from BankMyCell, 81% of millennial survey participants admit to often experiencing anxiety when talking to someone on the phone.
Then there’s the matter of manners. Millennials consider just picking up the phone and calling them rude and inconsiderate. Phoning a millennial without texting or emailing first is something they consider an imposition. They view the caller as imposing on their time and disrupting their schedule.
Having said all this, when it comes to contact centers, millennials have high expectations for customer service. They value authenticity, empathy and efficiency.
How To Tailor Your Contact Center Service To Millennial Customers
Since millennials simply hate to pick up the phone and call your toll-free number, your contact center must give this generation options that don’t involve talking to anyone over a handset. One of those options is self-service.
Some industry insiders predict that 85% of all customer service interactions will begin with self-service by 2022. Give your millennial customers what they are looking for by helping them serve themselves without having to talk with anyone.
Start with your agents. They know your customers better than anyone else, so include them in the design of your self-serve options. Then train them on your self-serve options and the advantages they offer. Following up by coaching them in how to encourage callers to use these options when appropriate.
The most common types of self-serve options are answers to frequently asked questions, knowledge bases, online discussion forums, detailed tutorials and support content, automated task management platforms and chatbots.
Create content that covers the questions and issues that your agents encounter most often. This includes common service issues, warranty information, your return policy, product information, product pricing, your business location and your hours of operation.
On every page of your website that offers self-serve options for customer service, give visitors easy ways to reach an agent in the event that they don’t find the answers they seek. Follow the advice of contact-center consultants ICMI, put live agents within easy reach with:
- A clearly identified way to exit an IVR application or mobile app
- Prominently displayed contact numbers and links on your website and within apps
- Text-chat, click-to-talk or co-browsing capabilities
- Email addresses and Web templates for questions, comments and other input
- Posting access numbers and alternatives in relevant social communities
Once you start offering self-serve options, track your metrics. Keep on top of your page bounce rates, clickthrough rates, customer satisfaction scores and other metrics that indicate the level of satisfaction with your self-serve options.
Millennials are notorious for being impatient, especially with technology. So, if you want to improve your customer service, offer your millennial customer the option of engaging with your contact center agents through live chat.
One of the main advantages of live chat is that it connects millennials with an agent immediately. No need to dial a number and wait on hold for an agent to pick up. This improves the support experience for all of your customers.
Live chat also allows your millennial customers to multitask, something they were born to do. At least 51% of customers (not just millennials) enjoy using live chat for this reason. Enduring short delays in responses from the live agent is easier to do when customers can busy themselves with something else while waiting.
Live chat also helps your agents build rapport with your millennial customers. Millennials appreciate live chat sessions because they reduce the number of times they are required to repeat the reason for reaching out in the first place.
Although millennials prefer live chat to talking with a customer service agent, only 2% of retailers offer 27/7 chat. This makes live chat a clear opportunity for retailers to gain a competitive advantage with this key demographic.
Millennials are the mobile generation, so gear your contact center services to customers who are reaching out to you on mobile devices in general, but phones in particular. This means creating web pages that are optimized for mobile search and the mobile user experience.
Start with web pages that are mobile responsive. Work on the back end at the code level to boost your page response times so that they load as quickly as possible. If your site uses pop-ups, re-work them so that they perform properly on mobile devices. Test your site using Google’s mobile-friendly tool.
If there is sufficient demand, and if you believe it will improve your customer experience, develop a mobile app. Here are some tips for ensuring that your mobile customer service app delivers the experience that your millennial customers expect, courtesy of Webb ROI:
- Provide a way for customers to message you directly without leaving your mobile app
- Reduce the number of support tickets by providing in-app native FAQs that answer common questions from users
- Decrease wait times for support tickets by searching for problems or issues with similar themes
- Implement an automatic follow-up system to help you prioritize those users who still need help with their issues
- Resolve issues quickly to impress customers and encourage high app reviews.
- Don’t sound like a machine when helping users
- Allow users to easily cancel their subscription
- Deeply integrate your customer service software within your app
- Keep up with mobile users’ expectations by innovating in handling problems or issues
- Give your customer support team the appropriate mobile help desk tools
Millennials spend 14.5 hours each week texting, talking and interacting with social media on their phones. A whopping 81% of millennials use social media to interact with customer service. And 22% of them expect to receive a response within 10 minutes.
Millennials use multiple social media platforms to interact with customer service, including:
The key to success in delivering contact center services over social media is to respond to posts quickly and to know your numbers. Deploy a social media analytics tool that helps your business track engagement and monitor your response rates.
The next secret to connecting with customers on social media platforms is agent training. For many contact center agents, social is a new channel for delivering customer service. Train your agents in how to use each social media platform properly. Each platform is different, having its own peculiar protocols for displaying posts in the feed, posting, commenting, liking, sharing and more.
Finally, monitor your agents in real-time as they respond to customer issues through social media channels. Gauge their level of proficiency and adherence to company policies and best practices, and their effectiveness, then tweak your strategy as needed.
If delivering contact service services 24/7 is vital to your competitive position in the marketplace, and if it is something that your customers demand, then consider deploying customer service chatbots.
Chatbots are growing in popularity with frustrated millennials (and other website visitors and customers) because they answer questions and solve many common problems quickly—even if they are powered by AI robots.
Chatbots have the advantage of having no wait times, no time spent on hold. Millennial customers appreciate that. They also minimize the need for agent transfers, resolve many issues quickly, and deliver customer service every hour of the day and night cost-effectively.
Millennials appreciate chatbots because these bots deliver better customer engagement than human agents do. Chatbots are always more knowledgeable than their human customer-service colleagues, they have access to every customer data point ever created in real-time, and they easily detect common issues, detect patterns and predict issues that are causing problems for specific users.
The lesson for your contact center is that chatbots and virtual assistants resolve customer issues more quickly than your agents do. That means a better customer experience for your millennial consumers and your contact center agents alike.
Your Contact Center and the Millennial Employee Experience
One thing to remember about boosting contact center experiences for millennials is that there may very well be a millennial at both ends of the interaction. You may have a millennial customer dealing with a millennial contact center agent.
It pays to understand millennials as employees and not just as customers. According to career and job-hunting site Indeed.com, millennials share 10 characteristics. “In addition to being the first generation to truly witness the advent of technology like the Internet, virtual reality and artificial intelligence,” says Indeed, “there are a variety of traits that people of Generation Y might have.”.
A Millennial Employee:
- Values meaningful motivation
- Challenges the hierarchy status-quo
- Places importance on relationships with superiors
- Has an intuitive knowledge of technology
- Is open and adaptive to change
- Places importance on tasks rather than time
- Has a passion for learning
- Is openly receptive to feedback and recognition
- Is free-thinking and creative
- Values social interaction in the workplace
How To Motivate Your Millennial Employees
Millennials are the digital generation. They expect the technology tools they use at work to be innovative and familiar. In fact, 93% of millennials say up-to-date technology is a major factor in their decision to accept a position with an employer, according to contact center technology firm, Convoso.
Encourage open and free communication at all levels of your contact center. Millennial employees value social interaction in the workplace. So, ensure that you host enough individual, one-on-one and team meetings with your employees so that they feel included and appreciated. Listen to their concerns. Hear them when they voice complaints or offer suggestions for improving your contact center operations.
Offer remote work if your contact center is set up for it. According to Robert Half, 86% of Millennials looking for work say they are more likely to accept a position with an employer who lets them work from home for at least part of their week.
Millennials are openly receptive to feedback and recognition. If you want to get the most from them, monitor their performance using an omnichannel customer experience software tool, then reward them when they meet or exceed your performance targets.
How To Enhance Your Customer Service Approach
Delivering a world-class customer experience to the digital generation requires digital tools. Millennials, the generation that has communication technology with reach at all times of the day and night, demands that their experiences with customer service are seamless, quick, effortless and, above all, successful.
The first place to start is to deploy omnichannel customer experience software. Create a true omnichannel contact center that your millennial customers will enjoy contacting. It needs to be a platform that features an analytics system that eliminates data silos, consolidates customer data in one place and visualizes key performance metrics through highly customizable dashboards.
If you want to tailor your contact center services to meet the demands of millennial customers, you must gain actionable insights from your data. And you can only do that with omnichannel analytics.
An omnichannel analytics tool helps your contact center:
- Gain visibility into all consumer touchpoints. You understand how your internal departments and technologies operate together and identify channel weak points to ensure maximum customer satisfaction.
- Meet your millennial customers in the right channels. You easily pinpoint the channels that need additional support and make agent adjustments in real-time to accommodate the needs of different channels.
- Streamline communication for personalized experiences. Your agents gain quick access to customer profiles and contextual data, ensuring a seamless, personalized experience at each consumer touchpoint.
With millennials poised to become the largest segment of your contact center callers, you must prepare now to meet their unique characteristics, buying habits, communication preferences and ways of interacting with customer support.
To create a contact center that millennials will enjoy, start by understanding your millennial consumer. They are tech-savvy, multitasking pros who live on social media. They are digital natives who sleep with their phones next to their beds and check them first before they do anything else upon waking.
Millennials demand the convenience of omnichannel shopping experiences. They prefer texting to talking on the phone. And they have high expectations for customer service. They value authenticity, empathy and efficiency.
Next, offer your millennial customers the contact center options that appeal to them, including self-serve options, live chat, mobile-friendly services, social media and chatbots.
Then enhance your customer service approach by deploying omnichannel customer experience software that delivers a true omnichannel contact center that your millennial customers actually enjoy contacting, even if it isn’t over the phone.
Remember, above all, that delivering contact center services to millennial customers is just a small stage in the history of communications. Painting on cave walls was once all the rage. Sending transatlantic telegrams was once trendy. And talking with switchboard operators was once a sought-after career.
Today, contact centers must tailor their technology, their services and processes to meet the unique demands of the millennial generation, who in 2020 surpassed the Baby Boomer generation as America’s largest generation, at 72.1 million.
The secret to meeting the expectations of millennials is actually not a secret at all. It involves the most basic goals of any contact center—meeting customer expectations, regardless of how old or how young or how tech-savvy the customer is.
Meeting millennial customer expectations means training agents to deliver better experiences. It means putting the technology in place to answer and route calls quickly and to resolve customer issues promptly and to their satisfaction. Meeting millennial customer expectations means meeting this generation where they are, on the channels where they live.
Aceyus Helps You Prepare Your Contact Center for the Future
If you want to meet the needs of millennial customers, you must gain visibility into your contact center data. At Aceyus, we create customer experience software for contact centers. We help businesses improve customer experiences by providing them with the tools they need to pull actionable insights from their contact center data. Interested? Request a live demo below.