Customer Service Strategy Guide: Customer Experience for the Millennial Generation

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1 Customer Service Strategy Guide: Customer Experience for the Millennial Generation

2 Introduction The millennials are coming, and few businesses are prepared. For the purposes of this paper, the millennial generation also known as Gen Y includes those born between 1982 and 2001 (numbering approximately 80 million individuals in the U.S. alone). This generation outnumbers the baby boomers and is just entering the workforce now, while the bulk of the group will reach adulthood in the next decade. Their use of technology is one of the defining characteristics of this generation. In fact, Gartner refers to them as digital natives because technology is embedded in their lives. They have truly never known life without the Internet and mobile phones. The impact of the millennial generation has already been felt in the social networking and Web 2.0 sites that are changing the online world extending well beyond their own generational group to the online world at large. This group has been a driving force behind the widespread adoption of the Apple iphone and ipod, and it is clear that their impact will continue to be felt as they flex their growing purchasing power in the coming decade. The question for most businesses is: What does this generation expect, and how can we respond? To help answer that question, the Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed C-level and senior executives around the world about their perspectives on this generation, with a focus on long-term customer relationships, and 164 participants from 19 industry sectors responded. The results of the study (available at: Q3/ECGG/thankyou.html) have interesting implications for how businesses should manage customer interactions with this generation. The millennials, Gen Y, the digital natives whatever the term constitute a very different kind of workforce than the boomer generation now retiring. This paper discusses specific customer experience strategies that companies can employ to address the unique needs of the millennial generation today, while their influence is on the rise. Customer Service Strategy Guide > Customer Experience for the Millennial Generation page 2

3 The Customer Experience Opportunity Before discussing specific strategies, we should first answer the question of why now? Why not wait until the millennials represent a bigger part of your customer base? Why not wait until you see what your competitors are doing, and then follow suit? There are several compelling reasons to start defining and implementing customer experience strategies now, rather than later. The millennial generation has significant and growing purchasing power. As they continue to enter the workforce, the influence and impact of this generation will only increase. Research shows that, although many businesses recognize the unique needs of this customer segment, few are taking steps to address those needs which presents an opportunity for those willing to differentiate themselves. Peer recommendation and word-of-mouth are more important to this generation than traditional factors such as brand and corporate reputation. Loyalty gained with this group can lead to advocacy and growing market share, with the potential for long-term relationships. The influence of the millennial generation extends beyond their demographic. Social networking and Web 2.0 were driven by this group, but now widely adopted by many ages, including older CEOs who now blog on their corporate Web sites. Therefore, the steps you take to meet the millennials needs will help you with your larger customer base as well. Customer Service Strategy Guide > Customer Experience for the Millennial Generation page 3

4 Customer Experience Strategies for the Millennial Generation The customer experience strategies outlined below derive from the unique attributes of this generation, as revealed in the Economist Intelligence Unit research and collaborated by major analysts such as Forrester and Gartner. The research shows that this generation is motivated by a number of factors: Convenience, particularly in terms of the technologies that they use as part of their daily lives. Style: consider the popularity of Apple s iphone and ipod products when compared with other music players and mobile phones. Style clearly matters. Peer recommendations. In other words, according to the research, the driving factors for this generation are convenience, community, and cool. These factors hold both good news and bad news for businesses. The good news is that you don t have to compete on price alone. In many cases, millennials are willing to pay for more convenience or quality of experience. And if you get it right, peer recommendations work in your favor. The bad news is that if you get it wrong, peer recommendations work against you. This generation has high expectations for service and little tolerance for delays, inconvenience, or wrong answers. With this basic understanding, let s look at a series of strategies that you can start implementing today to support optimal customer interactions with the millennial generation. Any business can build on these strategies, regardless of its current methods and technologies for managing customer experiences. Convenience Style and taste Peer recommendation Accessibility or portability Brand Company reputation Customer experience interacting with the company Familiarity with the product or service Warranty and guarantee coverage 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% Figure 1: Percentage of executives that believe the following factors are more important in driving purchasing and service decisions among millennials than other demographic groups Source: Maturing with the Millennials: Are organisations prepared for the millennial consumer? An Economist Intelligence Unit survey results report The Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd. All rights reserved. [Whilst every effort has been taken to verify the accuracy of this information, neither The Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd. nor its affiliates can accept any responsibility or liability for reliance by any person on this information.] Price 0% Customer Service Strategy Guide > Customer Experience for the Millennial Generation page 4

5 Strategies: Strategy 1: Get the customer to the right resource, the first time Given the high expectations of this group, the first and most important step is to make sure you offer customer-centered, superior service. Customer-centric routing strategies should be employed to match customers with those agents or individuals who can best meet their needs, no matter how or when the customer contacts you. When a customer interacts with your business, they should reach an agent that has instant access to their information and the right skill set to address their needs. If the customer follows up on the same issue, they should be connected with the same agent again, if possible. And, if that agent is unavailable, any other agent who then interacts with the customer should have full, ready access to the customer s information, without requiring the customer to repeat and retrace their steps. Strategy 2: Support the channels that the customer uses This is the digital native generation, who have grown up with technology and integrated it into their daily lives and interactions. They don t want to have to wait on hold to interact with your business. They expect to be able to use non-voice channels, including , SMS, chat, or video. Armed with smart phones and WiFi access, they may browse a site, send a text, or simply call. For example, these customers may want to use text chat for simple questions, phone for deeper dialogue, and co-browse for visual assistance. Research shows that most businesses today expect to interact with customers in person in a storefront, over the phone, or perhaps by . You can differentiate yourselves, and better serve the millennial customer base, by extending your customer interaction environment to support Internet and multimedia channels, and to let them choose which channel to use when contacting your business. Non real-time channels, such as , can actually help your business better manage traffic and outcomes by shifting resource allocations between channels based on traffic, which may support the customer s need for instant gratification. Strategy 3: Be consistent, no matter which channel you use It is not enough to offer multiple channels you have to make sure that the customer experience is consistent across those channels. Millennials are comfortable with technology and will select the channel that makes the most sense at a specific time. This means that they may call in or initiate a chat session online, then follow-up by and expect a text message in response, but their overall customer experience should remain consistent. Customer Service Strategy Guide > Customer Experience for the Millennial Generation page 5

6 Strategies: Customer communications should not be siloed between the different channels, so you will need to make sure that your customer contact environment passes records consistently between agents and across channels, and that the same business logic applies to contact routing across channels. Customer relationship processes must be able to continue a dialogue across channels, even when a customer switches channels in the midst of a long, live transaction. This requires an environment that is highly integrated across Internet and multimedia channels in addition to traditional voice, with consistent business rules across all the channels. Strategy 4: Personalize the customer experience Customization is important to the millennial generation; nearly 40% of the executives surveyed think that they should give customers greater choice in designing their products. A similar strategy should apply to the customer support experience. For example, Proactive Contact Management lets customers sign up for notifications and choose their preferred interaction method (SMS, , etc.). Give them several options for interacting with agents, and offer relevant, real-time recommendations based on the customer s specific background, Web behavior, and history of accepting/rejecting cross-sell or up-sell offers. Strategy 5: Let customers help themselves, too Convenience is important to this generation. Offering self-service options lets customers select whether to complete a request on their own or interact with an agent. Well-designed and integrated self-service options can be convenient for the customer and a cost saving for you. Self-service can also provide the customer with instant gratification for their request or question, and self-service options help you manage spikes in traffic for a more consistent experience for all customers. Strategy 6: Give them access to experts Millennials are technically savvy and expect to get the right answers, quickly. When specific requests require specialized agent skills, you should connect the customer promptly to the person with the right capabilities. By implementing branch, remote, and expert agent integration, your business can connect customers with the right resources, no matter where they reside in the business, for better and faster customer service. Customer Service Strategy Guide > Customer Experience for the Millennial Generation page 6

7 Strategies: Less important < > More Important 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% Strategy 7: Learn from them Millennials will allow companies/suppliers to observe their behavior as customers. The companies that will be most successful with this group are those that listen and learn from them. Enhance your customer contact environment with a reporting and analytics environment that lets you: Analyze the customer experience over time, tracking trends as they emerge. Analyze and monitor the customer experience in real time identifying bottlenecks or resource problems that may affect the customer experience and shifting resources accordingly. Online support support Support using corporate blogs Support with wireless text messaging Support with new clinics, seminars or tutorials on specific subjects In-office/ In-home support In-store support Telephone support 10% 0% -10% Figure 2: What tools will companies need to support millennials in the near future? (Net percentage of group opinion over the next three years.) Source: Maturing with the Millennials: Are organisations prepared for the millennial consumer? An Economist Intelligence Unit survey results report The Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd. All rights reserved. [Whilst every effort has been taken to verify the accuracy of this information, neither The Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd. nor its affiliates can accept any responsibility or liability for reliance by any person on this information.] Strategy 8: Adapt and orchestrate the customer experience Based on what you learn from analysis and reporting, you ll need to constantly adjust and refine the customer experience aligning customers with the right resources, based on customer intelligence and real-time insight. If your customer experiences are driven by business rules and customer intelligence, then you can adapt and change the experience based on evolving needs and trends. The infrastructure supporting customer experience should be able to orchestrate the customer experience in real time and over time. Customer Service Strategy Guide > Customer Experience for the Millennial Generation page 7

8 Conclusion This white paper has explored what the millennial generation expects when it comes to the customer experience, and describes how businesses can respond. It is important for companies to prepare now, as the millennials will increasingly be flexing their growing purchasing power in the years to come. What s more, the millennial generation is changing customer expectations beyond their own demographic witness the widespread uptake of the ipod, iphone, and social networking across the generational divide. Therefore, the steps that you take today to better serve the millennial generation will pay off in the long run by helping you to better serve all of your customers. The strategies outlined above will increase the loyalty of the millennial generation, and also help to satisfy your wider customer base, by creating a business environment that responds in real time to optimize customer service. All of the strategies described are based on core capabilities within the Genesys platform to orchestrate the customer experience, and each can be added gradually and incrementally to your existing customer environment. The bottom line? Addressing the needs of the millennial generation today will give your company new ways to interact with and serve customers while reducing internal costs which will future-proof your business and provide a competitive advantage. Genesys Worldwide Genesys, an Alcatel-Lucent company, is the world s leading provider of contact center and customer service management software with more than 4,000 customers in 80 countries. Genesys software directs more than 100 million interactions every day, dynamically connecting customers with the right resources self-service or assisted-service to fulfill customer requests, optimize customer care goals and efficiently use agent resources. Genesys helps organizations drive contact center efficiency, stop customer frustration and accelerate business innovation. For more information visit: or call GENESYS or v.1 10/08-U.S. Americas Corporate Headquarters Genesys 2001 Junipero Serra Blvd. Daly City, CA USA Tel: Fax: Europe, Middle East, Africa EMEA Headquarters Genesys House Frimley Business Park Frimley Camberley Surrey GU16 7SG United Kingdom Tel: Fax: Asia Pacific APAC Headquarters Genesys Laboratories Australasia Pty Ltd Level 17, 124 Walker Street North Sydney NSW 2060 Australia Tel: Genesys and the Genesys logo are registered trademarks of Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc. All other company names and logos may be registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective companies and are hereby recognized Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc. All rights reserved.

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