According to a report published by Accenture, millennials in the US spend $600 billion annually. This figure is expected to rise to $1.6 trillion by 2020, representing 30 percent of the retail sales in the country.
Therefore, it is no wonder that brands are captivated by millennials born between the early 80s and 2000. However, capturing the imagination and hearts of the millennial generation has never been that easy.
Who Are Millennials?
Millennials can be defined as the world’s first generation to have truly adopted technology in all spheres of their lives. Introduced to the internet early in their lives, millennials are given to instant gratification and prefer using technology to make their lives comfortable.
What Makes Millennials So Unique for the Marketers?
According to the 2018 NGCX Benchmark Report, 89 percent of the respondents in a survey acknowledged that millennials have distinct preferences in terms of customer experience.
Further, a press release by American Express indicates that the millennial generation is willing to pay 38 percent more to do business with companies that deliver better customer service experience.
Yet, Salesforce reports that only 37 percent of shoppers feel like retailers know them. Fifty-three percent of millennial shoppers think that stores can make better use of mobile technology to look up shopper profiles and provide personalized recommendations.
In other words, millennial shoppers expect brands to know them and use that information to make their shopping experience quick, convenient, and personalized.
Adobe’s 2019 CXM Report reveals that younger consumers between 18 and 34 years of age demand more innovative experiences from brands. The report also points out that nine in 10 consumers in the said group would take action after having a bad online customer experience.
These actions include posting reviews on social media, telling friends, or stopping purchases from the company.
That’s a lot of lost business.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, one-to-one peer recommendations and product reviews are some of the most influential factors affecting purchase decisions. Besides, it is common knowledge that acquiring a new customer is much more expensive than retaining an existing one.
And, the surprise of surprises, millennials can be extremely loyal to brands that treat them right, says an Accenture report focused on millennial shoppers. It adds that millennials “demand a customer-centric shopping experience--one tailored to their wants and needs as valued customers,” and want their brands to actively “court” them.
Well, loyalty does come at a price but has its own rewards!
So, what can you do to meet the customer experience demands of the millennials to turn them into loyal customers? Below we share three key points that will help you transform your customer experience to meet the millennial expectations.
What Can Organizations Do to Meet the Expectations of Millennials?
Millennials present a unique puzzle to businesses. The generation shares quite a few tendencies with baby boomers. For example, they still visit brick and mortar stores and prefer human interaction for support in at least a few cases.
However, they also share several traits with Gen Z, adapting rapidly to the use of new technology and demanding faster and seamless experiences from brands.
No wonder, brands are often struggling to meet the expectations of the millennials. Here are three tips for meeting the expectations of millennials.
1. Millennials are obsessed with everything mobile
According to a new global study by B2X, a quarter of the total millennial population looks at their phones 100+ times a day, as compared to less than one-tenth of baby boomers. Nearly half of all millennials look at their phones more than 50 times a day, which is over three times the rate of baby boomers (15.9 percent).
In terms of the time spent on mobile, 25 percent of millennials spend more than 5 hours on their smartphone each day, and more than 50 percent spend at least 3 hours compared to a quarter of the baby boomers population.
But how do you make these statistics work in your favor?
Let’s understand that with a few more statistics. In a 2017 Microsoft Survey, 96% of respondents said that “customer service plays a role in their choice of and loyalty to a brand.”
In the same survey, 79% of millennials reported having a favorable view of companies with mobile customer support portals. 43% of millennials testified to the use of mobile devices to start customer service conversations.
The writing is on the wall!
A mobile-first strategy is the way to go if you wish to win over millennial customers for your brand. Here’s what you can do:
- Make your company website more mobile-friendly. Remember, visitors who have a poor experience on your mobile site may not interact with your business ever again.
- Offer self-service management portals on mobile for better searchability. A digital-savvy generation expects self-help resources that save time and enable them to solve their problems on their own.
- Enable your customers to connect with you seamlessly by offering live chat support on your mobile app. Live chat enables real-time interaction between your agents and clients in a personalized environment, leading to better experiences and potentially more sales.
- Go omnichannel over multichannel. Millennials expect the same level of experience on each touchpoint you offer. Therefore, make sure that the service you provide on the phone is consistent with what you offer on mobile or social media.
2. Understanding the millennial culture is key
Each generation is shaped by the culture they grow up in. Despite the ethnic differences, global populations share a common culture that tends to define their preferences as a whole.
For example, baby boomers grew up in a war-ravaged world, while the millennials have grown up in a culture of fast responses shaped by emerging technology. For brands to connect with any particular generation, it is vital to understand these subtle cultural differences and tweak their experiences accordingly.
If you wish to reach out to the millennials, start by asking the following questions:
- What do they value?
- What do they like to spend money on?
- How do they want to communicate?
- What does their decision-making process look like?
Once you answer these questions, you will have a broad persona of your target audience, which will help you curate experiences that match their expectations and tastes.
3. Customization and personalization is the future
Every individual is unique, and the millennials wish to be treated so. For your business, this translates into introducing a high degree of customization in your products, coupled with personalized marketing messages that are relevant to the recipients.
For millennials, one size does not fit all.
Owning a unique piece that differentiates them from the rest of the population is as important to millennials as being heard by their preferred brands. Take the example of Nike By You that lets you customize your shoes by picking the colors and patterns. The result is a product that is quite personal yet branded.
However, owning a personalized Nike shoe is not enough for the millennials. They also want to be sure that their preferred brand is listening to them.
Thus, in addition to offering customization in products, you need to adopt a personalized approach to marketing.
Personalization refers to the incorporation of personal information, such as name, title, organization, purchase history, etc. to your client communications. However, that's not enough.
In the present times, you need to hyper-personalize your communications based on user data to deliver highly contextual messages that are relevant to a specific user.
For example, you can leverage analytics data to share customized offers and promotions, based on past shopping behavior to create a rewarding experience for your customers.
4. Millennials prefer to interact with the latest technology
A report by Accenture states that “Chatbot-based customer support has the potential to be almost twice as fast as voice-based support over the telephone. And it will come at a lower cost.”
No wonder millennials prefer to communicate with virtual assistants over humans as they offer instant gratification and rapid engagement. According to Forbes, 60% of millennials have used chatbots. Of those who have used them, 70% have reported positive experiences.
More than half of the millennials who have not used a chatbot are interested in using them.
Chatbots also offer the millennial generation an opportunity to interact with emerging technology and contribute to its development through usage. For instance, Acquire’s chatbot uses machine learning to interpret inquiries and learns from each new interaction.
The best part about using chatbots is that they are available 24/7. As millennials are used to being connected at all hours, chatbots meet their expectations of connectivity and convenience by offering the information they need on their preferred channel in minimal time.
5. Unified customer experience is vital to your brand's success
It is a fact that modern consumers use an average of six different touch points while buying an item. This puts extreme pressure on brands to meet their customers wherever they are while ensuring a consistent experience across multiple channels.
The reason is that millennials don't see a brand in silos. For them, a brand's online store is not different from its physical store. So, it is normal for John to purchase an item online and then walk into that brand's physical showroom for repairs and expect the staff to have the full record of his purchase.
The following points, shared by Accenture, will help you design an omnichannel CX strategy for your business:
- Find out your customers' preferred communication channels to meet them where they are
- Break the internal silos and operate as a single brand across every channel
- Offer the same level of personalization to your customers on every platform
- Acknowledge your customers based on their previous interactions irrespective of the medium they use
Take the example of Bank of America that is setting new benchmarks for dynamic customer experience on its digital channels. The brand allows its customers to do everything from scheduling appointments to paying bills to depositing checks on its mobile and desktop apps.
Consequently, customers no longer need to visit a branch for simple tasks as they can perform these tasks from the comfort of their favourite screen in a jiffy.
Millennials comprise the largest population cohort in the US and also happen to be the world’s first digitally native generation. However, they are often misunderstood by brands leading to gaps in customer experience and the expectations of millennials.
To change this, start by understanding where your customers come from and collect feedback regularly to gauge the relevance of your customer experience program in real-time.
You may also invest in customer-centric technology to deliver a seamless and consistent experience across multiple touchpoints - which is much valued by millennials.
Sawaram Suthar is CMO at Acquire, and also a founder of Jagat Media, a digital marketing agency. A digital marketing consultant, he has experience in things including branding, promotions and page optimization, along with research and strategy. He has an MBA from the University of Pune. Anyone can find him on @sawarams.