Many companies are struggling to adapt their business to serve a new wave of consumers from the millennial generation. The current economic climate means that attracting, serving and retaining customers has never been so crucial to the success of businesses. In many countries, ‘millennials’ (consumers born between 1982 and 2001) account for the majority of the population and a large amount of consumer spend.
Unlike the baby boomer generation, a group studied closely for decades, the millennial generation, and its influence on consumer spending and corporate attitudes, is just beginning to be understood. The millennial generation outnumbers baby boomers today, and its ranks will continue to grow in influence as the majority of millennials reach adulthood in the next decade. Now more than ever, it’s vital for companies to embrace the millennial generation or face the threat of future struggle.
The millennial customer experience is unlike traditional interactions. Millennial customers are more likely to convene online than meet in person to raise issues and buy products. Online interactive communication tools such as chat rooms, blogs, podcasts and social networking sites mean that power has shifted away from large corporations and into the hands of the consumer.
A recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit and Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories has found that companies are struggling to adapt their businesses to interact with the millennial generation, causing a gap between consumers and the companies with which they are dealing. The survey found that millennials are motivated by convenience, customisation and community. Corporate reputation and brand are less important to millennials, with peer recommendation and viral marketing being the main factors when they consider a brand or product.
The survey revealed three key findings:
- Investment strategies are shifting to favour millennials. Companies are debating heavily whether to invest more in catering to ageing baby boomers versus next-generation consumers, with 42% saying they should tilt toward younger customers, while 39% would shift toward baby boomers and Generation X.
- The time to act is now. Most companies (54%) have not yet set their strategies or marketing for millennials even though they overwhelmingly agree that such steps are needed, with 75% saying millennials will have an impact on their organisation as consumers in the next three years.
- It’s an enterprise 2.0 world. Most companies have a sophisticated understanding of what it would take to adapt, but are not ready to change their customer engagement model by leveraging social networking, peer marketing, better online support, text messaging and blogging.
The survey of 164 executives across 19 industries found that 75% of companies believe that in the next three years they will need to have a ‘millennial strategy’ in place, with 30% expecting a major impact that will lead to change across the organisation and 45% expecting a more modest impact. Despite this, 54% of respondents say they have not yet set their strategy for targeting, attracting or retaining millennials, while 32% say they have done so.
The report highlights the urgent need for businesses to invest in new modes of customer communication and to tailor their approaches to match customer preferences. Millennials require services that are fast, reliable, frictionless, tailored, honest, trustworthy and personal.
The easiest way businesses can act on these needs is to adopt new customer engagement methods. Tools such as blogs, social networking sites and peer marketing have become the new channel for delivering key product advice and recommendations. Businesses must be prepared to interact in an honest and engaging manner and deliver clear messages.
To be successful, companies need to deliver a website experience that is increasingly interactive, enabling customers to quickly connect with agents and experts to answer questions and close transactions. The technology is available today, from agent chat to click-to-call to advanced web self-service. A company website is an untapped opportunity for engaging the customer.
I believe that companies that fail to integrate the web, mobile applications, social networking sites and blogs into their contact centre strategies will miss out on opportunities to secure loyalty with the millennial generation and will lose vital revenue opportunities in uncertain economic times.
Jason Stirling, as Vice President of Operations for Australasia and India, is responsible for managing the overall operations for Genesys in these regions, with a particular emphasis on ensuring customers maximise their return on investment from Genesys solutions. Jason has been with Genesys for over 11 years.
+61 3 9832 6502