How Millennials and Generation Z Are Helping to Drive Voice-Based Solutions for Urgent Customer Support

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At a time when texting, email, social media posts, and other digital platforms seem to be the communication and collaboration channels of choice for so many people, it’s easy to look at voice-based interactions as being almost quaint and somewhat outmoded.

The fact is, many consumers, and in particular younger ones such as Millennials and Generation Z, prefer voice communications when interacting with organizations for urgent support.

Any modern business needs to realize that earning the loyalty and trust of Millennial consumers and Generation Z consumers is essential for growth and profitability, today and into the future.

Before long, Millennials and Generation Z will be the primary demographics with buying power and influence. Brands need to align their customer support with these groups’ preferred channels.

As professional services and consulting firm Accenture noted in a 2019 report, Millennial shoppers spend $600 billion in the United States each year. And performance management company Nielsen Holdings has reported that Millennials are influencing upward of $1 trillion in total consumer spending. Members of Generation Z are also big spenders and have a huge influence on purchasing decisions.

Companies need to make it a priority to win over and keep these influential buyers by providing them with a personalized customer support experience. That includes making voice communications channels available and reliable at all times.

In general, people need to have more than a single channel to communicate with a support function, and Millennials and members of Generation Z often prefer to communicate via messaging as a rule.

But when it comes to getting hold of organizations in a hurry or for an urgent or complex need, voice is still their preferred channel. Aircall commissioned a February 2019 online survey of 750 U.S. consumers, who had sought customer service related to an online purchase within the prior 12 months, and found that 70% of the respondents prefer the phone for urgent issues.

The company’s 2019 eCommerce Customer Service Experience Survey, conducted by a third-party research firm, showed that 31% of the respondents prefer the phone for general issues, 59% prefer chat when seeking ease of use, and 58% prefer the phone for effectiveness.

Given the prominence of voice communications for interactions between consumers and companies—particularly those that are urgent—phone-based services and support are an extremely important component of customer service.

Companies need to make it a priority to create a modern, personalized call center experience that takes advantage of the latest technologies. They can boost customer satisfaction ratings dramatically by delivering shorter hold times and faster response times for customer queries; making it extremely easy for customers to reach the call center or schedule an agent call from the company’s Web site or mobile app.

A modern call center should have streamlined agent workflows that eliminate tedious, redundant tasks that prevent agents from providing efficient, personalized support to customers. Agents should have on hand customer information such as recent purchases the moment a phone call begins.

The call center platform should be easy to integrate with a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, allowing agents to surface relevant customer data in real-time in order to expedite interactions and resolve issues faster.

Call center supervisors, meanwhile, should have access to real-time, consolidated views of operations across multiple channels, including voice. This insight not only provides a holistic view of their call center, but can help streamline operations such as measuring and monitoring performance, spotting issues, strategically staff agents, and remove bottlenecks.

It’s vital to make sure that contact center teams are equipped with the right tools and technology to route and prioritize calls effectively, so that all customers can receive prompt attention when calling in. That’s especially true when contact center teams experience a high volume of customer service requests. Calls need to be prioritized appropriately and quickly.

Millennial and Generation Z customers are technology savvy, so contact centers need to keep up and be technology savvy as well. That means deploying tools such as natural language processing (NLP) and conversational artificial intelligence (AI) to help identify intent to better route and direct customers through the support experience.

NLP is a component of AI that involves interactions between human (natural) languages and computers. It allows organizations to leverage machines to process and analyze large volumes of natural language data, using variations of the frameworks that have been successful in image recognition.

With the addition of deep learning, a part of machine learning based on artificial neural networks, the accuracy and use cases for NLP have been significantly increased. Deep learning discovers the way in which words are arranged in sentences, or the syntax, in order to assess meaning from a particular language.

One key use case of NLP is the chatbot, the AI-based technology that powers human-machine interactions that are becoming more common for customer support. Chatbots provide virtual assistance for customers who need to resolve problems when they call the support center.

The use of chatbots for automating customer support functions is on the rise. According to Gartner’s April 26, 2019 Forecast Analysis: Contact Centers, Worldwide report (available to Gartner subscribers), "in 2023, 40% of contact center interactions will be fully automated by using AI, machine learning and self-service, up from around 25% in 2018."

These types of technological development can immensely improve the way call centers handle calls from customers, in ways that are efficient and yet still personal. But it’s not just about technology. The people who work in call centers and handle customer interactions must be equipped with the necessary skills.

To that end, organizations need to provide the training agents need to handle any type of call from customers. This goes way beyond learning how to be courteous to callers and respond appropriately. It’s about knowing how to leverage technology to access the latest information and turning that into helpful insights to deliver a personalized experience.

If front-line agents have the requisite skills and supporting technologies to respond to inquiries and resolve issues quickly, Millennial and Generation Z customers will likely be open to doing more business with an organization.

Providing high-quality customer experience—a big priority for businesses today—is increasingly defined by customer service. Customers of all ages, including Millennials and Generation Z, view customer service as a true test of how much a company values them. Many say they are more loyal to organizations that make them feel as if they are known and appreciated when they contact customer service personnel.

Providing exceptional, personalized customer support through the latest voice-based technologies can make all the difference in a company’s ability to win business from the increasingly influential Millennial and Generation Z demographic groups

In order to deliver that experience, businesses need to harness voice platforms and emerging tools, and train their call center staff to make the best use of these resources. It’s a critical step toward delivering consistent, reliable support experiences that customers want and increasingly expect.

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