Is Your Self-Service Millennial-Friendly?
Here’s some good news for companies grappling with today’s economy: Those that deliver superior service when, where, and how customers like it can reap the rewards of the $1 trillion market of 80 million Millennials, who have surpassed each of the Baby Boomer and Gen X cohorts in size and buying power.
Recent research from Convergys reveals some unique traits of this powerful customer segment: They care deeply about the service experience and place as much—if not more—value on a company’s quality of service as they do price. Intelligent self-service is the new personalization and the benchmark of superior service. They like automated, multichannel options that know them and can initiate ambient conversations about their issues and needs. One bad experience means goodbye. Satisfaction does not equal loyalty. Some 73 percent of Millennials will leave after one bad experience, and 85 percent will tell others about their poor experiences. With 1.5 million blogs and 3 million tweets posted daily, companies will increasingly find themselves on the receiving end of wide-reaching negative word-of-mouth.
To serve such a tech-savvy and always-connected crowd of customers and compete in the new experience-based economy, you need to ensure your approach to customer care is based on four bedrock principles:
1. Analytics and enterprise policy management—Previously, the burden of getting to the right place when calling into an interactive voice response (IVR) system was on the caller. Millennials have no patience with do-it-yourself automation. Fortunately, better options exist to anticipate why a customer is calling and give him what he is looking for via the channel he likes, all prior to being connected to a live agent. Analytics and enterprise policy management tools with the latest speech technology at both the front and back ends help better understand callers’ needs and requests and how the company is addressing them. Precise routing and fewer secondary transfers get the customer where he wants and needs to be, quickly resolving questions and issues. These are musts for Millennials, who expect rapid response and resolution.
2. A real personalized experience—In the past, personalization meant greeting the customer by name and a few other gimmicks. Now it means taking all of the knowledge about a caller and using it to make decisions about how to best interact with him, whether through an IVR, the Web, or an agent. To make this efficient and easy to manage requires a comprehensive, detailed data-capture mechanism and decision-making component. A full-fledged profile that includes everything known about a customer—when she calls, why she calls, when she uses the Web and why, and what the company’s last interaction was with her—is needed. The more information available, the more business intelligence-driven rules can create real-time, dynamic IVR speech menus, further enhancing the customer experience.
3. Multichannel interactions—Rather than introducing new complexity, a multimodal experience simplifies interactions for customers, allowing them to choose how to accomplish their tasks. Millennials favor the added control and flexibility of anytime, anywhere self-service, and are as apt to download work-related slide presentations and spreadsheets at a coffee shop as they are to update their Facebook statuses at work. They want the same flexibility with customer service.
4. Proactive intelligent outreach—Companies can be proactive by applying business rules and policies to proactive interactions, and by pushing relevant and personalized messages to this group, which is more accustomed to texting a friend across the room than engaging in a face-to-face conversation. Telling them about a billing issue or sending flight delay information gives them what they want before they ask, decreasing their need to contact an agent and thereby driving down your cost-to-serve while increasing their satisfaction.
To some, the idea of humanizing care via technology might seem alien, even contradictory. The old service economy is finished. Millennials don’t think in terms of your service transaction; they care about their ongoing experience, enriched by constant contact and feedback via automated systems. For them, intelligent self-service and notification is high-touch and intensely personal. It is what they like and what they trust. Companies that embrace this concept already are making customer service a primary differentiator—building loyal, profitable relationships with today’s Millennials and generations to come.
Jo Ann Parris is vice president of relationship technology management at Convergys. She is responsible for sales, marketing, and solution management for Convergys’ portfolio of self-service and advanced automation solutions. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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