How Millennials are Breaking (and Changing) the Rules of Customer Experience

Customer Experience

From chatbots to two-day shipping, the customer experience is giving way to the reign of Millennials, who thrive on technology and yearn for social and ethical fulfillment. In decades past, Baby boomers, Gen-X, and the generations prior all focused customer engagement in-person. Whether this meant talking to an actual person on a phone line or having someone in-store assist them, prior generations were missing one thing when it came to their experience as a consumer – the power of technology. A recent Nielsen survey, Millennials rank technology use as first among their generation’s defining characteristics, and it is altering the way that industries interact with customers.

“Killing the Industry” and Other False Claims

One of the biggest claims that is made about this generation is that they are killing industries. From real estate to chain restaurants, certain industries are failing in their efforts to market to this younger crowd. Because this crowd currently makes up a consumer majority, estimated at a whopping 80,000,000 consumers, which outranks the Baby Boomer category significantly. Failure to meet the marketing demands of this group could spell disaster for companies. But the bigger point here is not that Millennials are killing an industry, its that companies are not meeting the demands of this generation.

Marketing remains one of the greatest barriers that legacy corporations miss the mark on. The diamond industry, for instance, is one that has missed the mark with Millennial buyers. But even when companies within the diamond industry use technological marketing strategies that are geared toward earning Millennial buyers, they still fall short. This is because more than any other generation before it, social causes and ethics are driving how Millennials buy, and many legacy corporations are not meeting these complex social and ethical demands. This delves into the overall customer experience, and instead of allowing Millennials to take the blame for “killing” industries, it is in the best interest for companies and corporations to re-evaluate the customer experience from the viewpoint of a Millennial.

How to Adapt Customer Experience Rules in the Age of Gen Y

There are ways in which companies can adapt the traditional customer experience to meet the complexities of Millennials, or Generation Y.

  • Take Technology Into Account: recent article by USC showed that 85% of Millennials had a smartphone, and that has applications that expand past use of social media marketing. Not only do companies need to understand that this generation wants to do its shopping online, but part of that online customer experience revolves around the technology used by your company being accessible to this age range. As part of their customer experience, Millennial buyers expect to have apps that work and lightning-fast, independent servicing, like the type offered by Amazon.
  • Social Media & Text Help:  Millennials overwhelmingly would prefer not to have to speak to a live person during their customer experience. Therefore easy-to-use, flawless technology is crucial to the online experience. However, this does not mean that self-help articles are going to be the go-to when company apps stop working or orders are not fulfilled. Utilizing email marketing and contact, social media and chatbots, and even automated call-in lines when necessary, this group looks for the best help from their phone or computer to work with increasingly busy and pressured lives. However, when it comes down to it, there are times in which traditional call-in lines are appreciated. The best way to market call-in lines to Millennial customers? A process that centers around their convenience—something that automated callbacks and self-directed lines are addressing.
  • Venture Out on a Limb: Especially true for dining and physical shopping, Millennial customers are looking to experience something new. Whether it means clothes that break gender boundaries, food they’ve never tried, or customer service that beats the experience of competitors, Millennials are looking to be catered to.

There are brands out there right now who are doing it well. Apple, Facebook, Starbucks, and others have socially-engaging campaigns that cater to a technologically-savvy and socially diverse customer base. But for much of the corporate world, there is a lot that needs to improve. Addressing the change in customer experience for Millennials is multifaceted and often needs a fresh perspective. For now, some brands and corporations might be able to scrape by without changing their way of business, but that solution is not sustainable. The future of customer experience is distinctly Millennial, and for businesses to remain leaders they must adapt to the needs of this generation.