How Millennials Are Redefining Customer Service Millennials really do not want to talk to you when they have a complaint or issue about a product or service you sold them.

By Jimmy Rohampton

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Millennials really do not want to talk to you when they have a complaint or issue about a product or service you sold them. Further, they will not wait in lines. They will not stay on hold, and punch their way through 5-6 prompts. The only time they want to speak with a live person is after their own self-service efforts have totally failed. And if those efforts have failed, businesses can expect to be shamed all over social media.

How we got here

Millennials are the first generation to grow up with device access at all times. They may have begun their lives with PCs, but tablets and phones have replaced those, along with instant access to anything online and to friends, without ever a spoken word. Millennials are comfortable with non-verbal communication and, in fact, prefer it. It is fast, efficient, and brief. And that is just how they want their customer service to be as well.

Businesses, on the other hand, have been a bit slow to move in the direction of non-verbal customer service. Part of the reasons is that they serve diverse generations. Baby Boomers want to speak with a live person; Gen X'ers want a combination of technological and live person results; Millennials want self-service- methods by which they can resolve their customer service issues solely through technology.

And here's the thing: Millennials now make up the largest consumer demographic. Companies that intend to keep them as customers and keep their reputations intact will develop methods by which this generation can resolve its customer service issues using digital information and platforms you provide.

Five essentials of customer service to millennials

The most important thing to remember in developing customer service strategies for millennials is that they really do like to handle their issues on their own, rather than depend upon a customer service representative to do it for them.

Consider, for example, the process for returning an item that has been purchased on Amazon. Other than the physical act of actually posting the product to be returned, everything else is handled digitally. In fact, the actual mailing of the product can even be handled digitally and picked up by the mailman or FedEx truck rather than by a trip to the post office.

One of the reasons millennials prefer to shop online, in fact, is that they do not have to deal with live customer service centers if they have to return or exchange an item. And if their customer service needs relate to their devices or technology, they expect customer service to be provided through technology as well.

Related: Millennials Want To Work At Organizations That Focus On Purpose, Not Just Profit

Here are five strategies that will give millennials the customer service they want:

1. Omni-channel self-service

Millennials customers want to be able to interact with you on one channel (e.g., text) and then be able to pick up where they left off on another (e.g., chat).

You need to have systems in place that will assign a ticket number to each customer service overture and that will maintain a record in your system of all digital interactions. If, God forbid, a millennial might have to actually talk with a live person, that ticket number should be the access point for everything that has gone on before. No customer, particularly a millennial, ever wants to begin their story all over again.

2. Shop like a millennial

If you are not a millennial yourself, then you need to have a millennial shopping experience with your own company. If you are, then you already have a big list of your personal shopping pet peeves. So, get out your phone, search for your brand online, and complete an entire purchasing process with no human contact.

As you go through that process, find the points that are slow or cumbersome and determine how you can omit, add, or modify in order to streamline the process. The purchasing process must be seen as a part of customer service too. If you cannot be found quickly, if your load time is slow, or if there are too many steps in the purchasing process, millennials will go elsewhere.

3. Perform an after-the-sale customer service activity

Pick a product or service you offer. Go online and see how your questions get answered, without speaking directly with a customer service rep via telephone.

How do you get a refund? How do you make a return? How can you effect an exchange? Use your tablet or phone to do this. Is it seamless? Is it quick? Is it multi-channel? Find the bottlenecks and get them fixed.

4. Consider a self-help video library

If you have monitored the typical customer service requests, you already know the FAQs and the most prominent customer service issues and requests.

Create a video library of FAQ answers, tutorials, and instructions that can be easily accessed through your site. Monitor the most frequent requests and issues over a period of time. This will give you the topics for your videos. They may be anything from how to establish an account with you, how to install a replacement battery, or return/exchange procedures.

Videos are appealing to millennials- just be certain you have a good search function by keywords so they can get to the right video quickly.

5. Social media is a customer service platform- accept it

If millennials are anywhere online, they are on social media. And they talk a lot.

They use social media to register complaints about products, services, companies, and customer service fails. When complaints go unanswered, they just sit out there for all to see.

You need to be proactive in this area, from Facebook and Twitter to Snapchat. Get some comprehensive social monitoring tools that will alert you whenever your brand is mentioned. Have one or more individuals in charge of receiving those alerts, accessing those mentions, and responding rapidly and publicly to any issues or complaints. Millennials want to know that their voices are heard and that someone is listening and taking steps to resolve their issues.

You cannot ignore millennials and their needs for efficient and seamless digital customer service. If you put the right systems and processes in place, you will do a great deal to ensure customer loyalty from this largest consumer group.

Related: How To Sell To Millennials

Wavy Line
Jimmy Rohampton

Freelance writer & Business consultant

Jimmy is a freelance writer, blogger, and business consultant. He helps people master blogging and online marketing at Jimmy has written for The Huffington Post, Engadget and Tech Cocktail to name a few.

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