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Old-School Industries Require New-School Customer Experience It's critical for companies in old-school industries to ditch the 'we've always done things this way' mindset and begin listening to what consumers want -- nay, expect -- and that's a personalized digital experience.

By Zeynep Ilgaz Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Klaus Vedfelt | Getty Images

The drug-testing industry can be a little old-school, and you just read that from someone coming from the trenches. Our company has been selling drug-testing solutions to corporations for more than 10 years now, and not much has changed -- though our customer profile is vastly different from the day we first opened.

Related: Don't Believe These 4 Customer Experience Myths

I remember when our company members and roster of clients preferred to communicate over the phone instead of email, clocking hours of time just to close one deal. We also used the internet in a limited capacity, choosing instead to take orders via fax. It was a different time, all right.

But, today, with the rise of the millennial cohort, everything has changed -- even for a drug-testing company. In short, millennials are slowly but surely becoming the coveted buyers of not only B2C, but also B2B products and services. According to Accenture, millennials spend roughly $600 billion per year, and Pew Research Center tells us that this age group now makes up the bulk of the U.S. workforce.

With this in mind, be advised that it would be a big mistake for your or any other brand tonot adapt to millennials' behaviors and preferred experiences. Whether you're selling old-school skateboards to teens or new-school software to CEOs, the current era calls for a modernized customer experience that mirrors how people want to buy products. Here's what to be aware of:

Old is new again.

Over the past few years, our old-school company realized we needed to adjust our approach for reaching the next generation of consumers in order to maximize growth potential. So, here are the steps we took:

1. Personalize the experience.

Customers no longer buy products and services. They purchase experiences by way of products and services, and businesses skilled at delivering more personalized experiences will end up driving customers through their doors again and again.

Let's say, for example, that you're able to recall a customer's name. In that case, 56 percent of consumers said in a recent Accenture survey that they'd be more likely to come back, Now say you can recollect a person's past purchases -- that would spur another 65 percent to return. An Infosys report, echoed these findings, reporting that 31 percent of consumers it surveyed wanted a more personalized shopping experience.

In other words, personalization is a surefire way to not only bring customers on board, but also keep them there. You can do this by investing in tools such as HubSpot to help gather and study customers' online and buying behavior, to personalize your marketing messaging and sales tactics.

2. Offer round-the-clock service.

Customers value the independence to gather information and make purchases wherever and whenever they like. If you're not catering to these now-basic needs, trust that someone else is -- and you could be guiding your business right into the arms of the competition.

Related: How to Give Your Subscribers an 'Ease of Ordering'

According to a 2017 RetailDive survey, 65 percent of consumers conduct online research before deciding to buy, while eMarketer recently revealed that two-thirds of millennials surveyed said they'd rather shop online than in a brick-and-mortar store.

It's a no-brainer to give customers the opportunity to order online. But you should also post research about your offerings to illustrate how your business is the perfect solution to customers' problems. Our company did just that with great results. We also took it a step further by offering 24/7 live chat for questions and complaints.

3. Pepper the internet with helpful content.

A website can be a bit like an island. You'll stock it with all the necessary supplies, but still need to give people a means of getting there if you want them to use it. Inbound marketing is that means. According to research from HubSpot, just 16 percent of marketers polled said that outbound practices provided high-quality leads. That's not much to rely on.

Consumers don't want a hard sell; they just want some help. By lending your expertise and offering a little assistance (sans product promotion, I should add), you become a trusted ally and more likely to attract and keep business. In fact, content marketing delivers more than three times as many leads as outbound marketing does, according to the Content Marketing Institute. It also costs 62 percent less!

Still, to be successful, content marketing requires a clear and consistent strategy. The goal is to build a massive library of content that organically appears in search results and can be found on third-party sites. Strategic content serves as the boat leading consumers back to your site. Of course, success in this realm takes time and effort; so don't hesitate to find contractors who can help.

Related: 7 Essential Inbound Marketing Strategies for Every Startup

In a world where people do almost everything virtually, you'd be surprised by how many businesses have yet to adapt. At this point, it's critical for companies in old-school industries to ditch the "we've always done things this way" mindset and begin listening to what consumers want -- nay, expect -- what that is, is a personalized digital experience.

Zeynep Ilgaz

Entrepreneur, Co-Founder and President of Confirm Biosciences and TestCountry

Originally from Turkey, Zeynep Ilgaz and her husband immigrated to the United States with two suitcases and the drive to dive into entrepreneurship. They co-founded Confirm BioSciences and TestCountry in San Diego. Ilgaz serves as president of both. Confirm BioSciences offers service-oriented drug-testing technologies.

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