How Millennials Changed the Face of Customer Engagement


This year, a new wave of the Millennial generation is completing their education and will be joining a workplace near you.

These ‘digital natives’ have grown up in a connected world. The oldest of this generation were four years old when Facebook was launched.

They have never known a world without mobile phones or the internet. They are completely comfortable with interacting online with hundreds of connections and would rather choose text-based communication so that they can multi-task discreetly on the go.

To this generation, technology is like the air they breathe.

This creates a whole new set of expectations for how they purchase products and access services. They choose to consume all information and content online by default.

Music, maps, videos, tutorials, information, news and pictures are all created, accessed and shared through smartphones, tablets and computers.

If help is required to purchase products or resolve service issues, there is an expectation of an instant response online through social channels or Live Chat. Using the telephone to navigate lengthy IVR menus and sit in queues is a last resort. Email is considered by this generation as ‘old-school’ and too slow.

They are right. Most organisations are aiming for customer response times of minutes or hours on social, whereas it is not uncommon for email responses to take 2-4 days and require multiple ping-pong communications over an even longer timeframe.

Every brand has the goal to create a great customer experience. It makes good business sense for customers to rave about the organisation to friends and family and promote it online. However to get to this, we first need to consider what makes a good customer experience for Millennials.

  1. It must be digital.

As we have already ascertained, the accessibility of the brand online to converse quickly and efficiently via chat or social is paramount. Relying on traditional channels will leave you with an aging customer demographic as the Millennials will go elsewhere.

  1. It must be easy.

Ideally, a Millennial can find the answer to their query by using an intuitive self-service portal, YouTube video or online forum. They really don’t want to contact you unless they absolutely have to, so make it easy for them to get what they need.

In addition to easy access, the solutions that you offer also need to be easy. Proactive service is important for Millennials, they expect you to do the leg-work, not make them jump through hoops.

Empower your front-line teams to make fast decisions and to create ‘wow’ moments. Millennials will be quick to reward you by sharing their joy online (and they’ll be even quicker to share their disdain if they have a bad customer experience).

  1. It must be fast and available.

Speed of response is one of the most important factors in making a Millennial customer feel valued. They live in a fast-paced world obsessed with instant gratification, so if you snooze, you lose.

Being able to chat in real-time is one of the main attractions of digital customer service, so ensure that your contact centre is appropriately resourced. Having skilled ‘over-flow’ teams is essential and offering the longest opening hours possible is always better.

If you are in the travel and transport, hotel, holiday industry etc. then 24 hours is probably essential. If you are in the retail industry, you may be fine with a 12-hour day.

Either way, communicate the support presence times online and monitor the take-up. But remember, it won’t always be demand led. Nobody demanded the invention of the iPhone from Apple, it had to be offered before people knew they wanted it.

  1. It must be useful.

If a Millennial takes the time out to access support via a human-to-human interaction, then it must be worth their while. The agent must know more than the customer could find out for themselves online (since they have potentially tried and exhausted a lot of that information already).

If your contact centre teams are ill-informed, under-trained, out-dated or inaccurate with the information they provide, it will do more harm than good.

  1. It must be inter-connected.

It goes without saying that an omni-channel view of previous tweets, chats, calls or emails for the customer should be all in one place and visible to the agent.

It is also important to be able to provide further links in digital conversations to more detailed support pages or tutorial videos that the customer can access at their leisure and keep for future reference.

For your organisation, building this kind of library is a win-win situation. It enhances your self-service strategy and internal knowledgebase and pleases Millennials, all with the same content.

  1. It must be friendly and relaxed.

The days of stuffy, overly formal writing are consigned to legal documents and snail mail. The Millennial generation speaks “emoji” like a second language. They want ‘down-to-earth’, human and witty interactions.

They aren’t impressed by complicated and formal interactions, in fact, it disengages them. They value a personalised, friendly and relaxed approach. This is something to get right in your brand style guide and train your agents to be able to do this well without crossing a line and being unprofessional or inappropriate.

Finally, it is worth remembering that Millennials have grown up in a world of freedom and choice. If you try to force them into your customer journey process, they may rebel and leave.

Organisations need to listen to this latest generation and shape the customer experience around what they want and expect, not what the organisation finds easier or more cost-effective to offer. Giving customers a choice and a voice in the experience is vital to creating sustained engagement.

Interested in hearing more about engaging your millennial customers? Register for the Customer Contact Expo 2016 today.

Carolyn Blunt

Carolyn Blunt

After completing a degree in Management Sciences at Manchester University, and a post-graduate Diploma in People Management (CIPD), Carolyn worked in HR and L&D for both large and small employers before becoming an in-house Training Consultant at Fujistu Services in the Service Desk division. In 2003 Carolyn set up Real Results Training Consultancy and remained very much in the world of Service Desks, Contact Centres and Customer Services, working with clients such as United Utilities, Bupa, Serco and the Co-operative Insurance designing both front line and leadership programmes and huge culture change programmes. As well as running the company, Carolyn still loves to get stuck in with clients and relishes training design, delivery, coaching and speaking engagements. In her down time Carolyn enjoys relaxing with her family and horses.