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7 Simple Ways To Adjust Your Customer Service Strategy for Millennials

Posted in Customer Service and tagged

Millennials on Phones

Millennials are trending! The 75.3 million or so population of millennials communicate way differently than the Baby Boomer generation before them. While your mom loves to talk on the phone and dish about her back and knee pain, millennials aren’t huge fans of phones (SMH), but do love texting. When your dad did a backflip the first time he figured out how to ‘Like’ a post on Facebook, millennials were raised on social media. To capture the buying power of this group, businesses are realizing they need to flip the script on how they engage with millennials. For customer service, that means helping customers doesn’t always start with ‘Thank you for calling. How can I help you?’

While the basic tenets of good customer service remain the same across generations, the way millennials communicate is what’s really changing the customer service game. Preferred channels of service aren’t just telephones. They’re phones, and texts, and chats, and Twitter, and Facebook – pretty much just about every channel your small business is probably not engaging in right now.

So how can businesses that have developed their customer service strategies around Baby Boomers change gears to hook up with millennials? How can you achieve customer retention while millennializing your customer service? We’ve put together 7 tips your company can start putting into play today!

Tip #1: Social Media

Use of Social Media: As social media continues to evolve, millennials are evolving with it, which means you have to, too. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are all free apps that millennials love, and that businesses can use to keep in touch with their customer base. 55% of people aged 18-34 stated that they have used social media to praise a brand on it’s customer service. Similarly, 50% of people in the same age range stated that they would also refer to social media to complain about a bad customer service experience. Oh no! If you’re not using at least some form of social media to engage with your customers, you’re dropping the ball.

How your company can use social media to engage with millennials: Just being accessible on social media is a great customer service strategy. Millennials are always on their phones – so you have to be there too.

  • Setup Social Media Channels: At minimum, make sure you have a Facebook and a Twitter page setup, with text on the page letting customers know they can DM you for support requests.
  • Post Regularly: We recommend posting regularly to show your customers that you’re up to date, engaged, and ready to communicate. Even if you’re just owning a Twitter troll because they talked smack on your beef, at least you’re posting something, and millennials know you’re there.
  • Make Sure Customers Know Where They Can Contact You: Traditional support channels like logging a support ticket on a website may not be adopted, where accepting support requests on channels millennials already use can be. If millennials know that they can send a direct message via Twitter or Facebook, instead of logging a formal support ticket, or calling a support line, they are more likely to reach out to you when issues arise, which means you have the ability to resolve their problem quicker. Make sure you have a place on your website letting customers know all the million+ ways they can contact you for support. And so you aren’t checking those million+ places every day, make sure all requests and messages funnel into a single email to easily triage requests.

Tip #2: Unified Communications

Unify Your Communications: Millennias have been exposed to the internet from infancy. That means data is always delivered in real time and on-demand. You need to have the right tools and technologies for seamless integration and a smooth flow of information across multiple channels. A millennial may expect to carry out a transaction online and call your contact center agent to verify when the shipping can be expected. Also, messaging and communication need to be consistent. Your website, your email marketing, and your contact center agents all need to speak the same language. Advertising a special when your answering service rep has no idea what the caller is talking about – that’s a super ‘No No’.

How your company can maintain consistent customer service with millennials: To really kill it, you need to be everywhere at once!

  • Use One Customer Service Team: Phone, email, and live chat support should all be handled by the same team of people. That way if someone who was using chat decides to call in for more assistance, they won’t have to explain themselves all over again.
  • Unify Your Software: If customer support isn’t able to be handled by the same group, we recommend looking for software that is able to integrate with other channels. For example, for your helpdesk software, look for a product that integrates with your CRM, POS, ordering platform, and billing system. For customers who are trying to get assistance, it can be frustrating when they are tossed around from person to person, especially if that person is not in the same location as the support rep they were just talking to. Consistency and teamwork are key in maintaining long lasting customer relationships.

Tip #3: Human Touch

The Human Touch: Despite their comfort with self-service, millennials still prefer the human touch when it comes to complex inquiries. They also want human interaction to be available on every channel – primarily to offer contextual and personalized service. So, out goes your static FAQ page and in comes web chat from an agent who knows which page you are browsing! Be sure that your agent is knowledgeable, can communicate well and is empowered to make decisions. 32% of millennials stated that working with a representative who does not have the ability or knowledge to resolve their issue is the most frustrating aspect of their customer service experience, and 63% have stopped doing business with companies due to a poor customer service experience. Millennials prefer an informal, honest, solution-oriented approach. Human agents must be available for them to contact at their convenience, and not because other service channels are sub-optimal.

The best way to provide 24/7 live support for millennials: Live support rocks! Make sure you’re offering it.

  • Hire a Virtual Receptionist: Outsource calls to a 24/7 virtual receptionist service so that your customers can receive assistance even after you’ve closed up shop for the day. Generally speaking, if millennials reach an answering machine, they will not stay on the line to leave a message. So, you’ll want to make sure you have around the clock coverage to field any incoming calls.
  • Make Sure the Virtual Receptionists Do Everything You Can Do: You’ll want to be sure that if someone calls at 2:00 PM and reaches you, and then they call at 7:00 PM and reach the answering service, that the service has the same capabilities and access to information as you. Many answering services can act as an extension to your business by screening calls, dispatching urgent messages, scheduling appointments, etc. In addition, you can save money by hiring a virtual receptionist as opposed to an in-office receptionist, who you’d have to pay a full salary and benefits. Many services, Specialty Answering Service included, even offer a free trial so you can make sure they are a good match!

Tip #4: Convenience

Convenience: Millennials take it for granted that your business will have a website, an app, and a contact center, not to mention a physical store front – all of which they will use depending on  convenience. So you can no longer shy away from multiple service channels.  They also prefer proactive engagement – reminders on bills to be paid, flights to be caught etc., rather than responsive engagement, like outreach on a payment after the due date has passed. It is important that you first obtain permission to call, text or email them, personalize the message, keep it accurate and relevant, and offer something actionable.

How to make your customer service channels convenient for millennials: You need to adopt texting into your customer service strategy.

  • Encourage Texting: Make sure your customers know they are able to text you if they need help.
  • Unify Your Numbers So They’re All Text Enabled: If you have numbers that aren’t text enabled, resporg them to a service that will allow texting.

Tip #5: Speed

Speed of Service: This one is universal, but especially relevant for millennials who are great at multitasking. Their service expectations are influenced by the instant gratification that they are used to from online experiences. No one likes to be kept on hold – especially so, the millennials – who are likely to abandon the queue faster than the Boomers. One way to overcome this is to offer self-service options such as an IVR or app-based service delivery.

How to speed up your customer service channels for millennials:  Create an internal SLA for responding to customers.

  • Set A Support Timeframe: Instant gratification is king. If your millennial customers reach out to you and they don’t hear back quickly, they are going to take their business elsewhere. Set a time frame within your company and try to stick to it as best you can. For example, maybe your goal for email replies is 30 minutes during business hours, and 2 hours after hours.
  • Use Technology for Confirmations: If you’re using a helpdesk, you can easily setup an automated email that goes out as soon as you receive an incoming ticket that just lets the customer know you’ve received their request and that they will be hearing from you soon. If you’re using email to handle your requests, setup an autoresponder. Either method assures customers that they are being heard, which makes them more likely to stick around for the resolution.

Tip #6: Self-Service

Use of Self-Service Channels:  78% of millennials agreed that they have a more favorable view of brands that offer a mobile-responsive customer support portal. Ideally, easy and straightforward transactions such as balance inquiry and password reset can be self-service while complex interactions are best left to a live agent. Also, it is important to provide confirmation of a successful transaction. Otherwise, millennials are likely to call back to verify if the transaction did actually go through – defeating the entire purpose of having self-service in the first place. This would be considered poor service.

The best way to provide self-service customer service options for millennials: Help your customers help themselves.

  • Invest in Web Based Technology to Connect Your Systems: Generally speaking, if millennials know that they can make a change with their order or account without having to speak to someone, they will do it on their own. Giving your customers access to an online portal that allows them to manage their settings at their leisure can help reduce phone calls and increase customer satisfaction. You’ll want to make sure the portal is user friendly and that the people using it aren’t able to make any drastic changes, like accidentally deleting important information.
  • Develop a Help Desk: Articles are awesome. Make sure to create an online library where customers can go to for answers to their questions – and make sure you update it regularly. You’ll find that this will cut down on your support costs while keeping your customers uber happy.

Tip #7: Quality

Quality of Service Delivery & Service Recovery: Consumer activism is high among millennials. They take action as a response to perceived service quality, whether it is good or bad. They talk about their service experience online in social media and in chat forums, are quick to recommend a good service provider to friends and family, and equally quick to warn them about a bad one. In fact, their tolerance for bad service is lower than other generations, and therefore companies need to work on improving quality of service delivery and speed of service recovery in the event of an unsatisfactory incident. In other words, if something goes awry, apologize and take corrective action straightaway.

How to improve the quality of your service for millennials: Make sure you’re taking feedback at every opportunity.

  • Send A Survey After Every Issue You Resolve: Send out an email or text after every resolved issue asking your customers for their feedback. Giving them this option to tell  you directly how you did can help deter them from bad mouthing you on social media. If their feedback was positive, you can then follow up by asking them to post a review online. If their feedback was negative, work with them to resolve their issue and analyze the entire thread so you can improve the process for next time.
  • Look for Patterns And Be Proactive: Analyze your support requests each week to look for trends. For example, if you’re seeing an escalation in support requests for new customers, maybe you need stronger on-boarding procedures.

While generations differ in how they interact with the businesses they patronize, their expectations are essentially the same – they want good customer care, and they want their problems to be resolved in as little time as possible.

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