Addressing Millennials and Non-Millennials – Are there any differences?

July 25, 2016
Vijai Shankar, Sr. Director Industry Marketing

Over the last several years, the buzz has been incessant surrounding millennials, the age group born between 1980 and 2000. There's a pretty good reason why: They outnumber baby boomers and, according to PwC, they are expected to be over 50% of the global workforce by 2020.

As millennials increasingly enter the workforce, they will interact with businesses for bank accounts, credit cards, consumer goods, cell phones, wireless plans and even healthcare insurance. Compared to the non-millennial baby boomer generation, millennials have a different view regarding customer experience that is causing companies to change how they interact and engage with their customers during acquisition and servicing journeys.

In a recent [24]7.ai Webinar titled – The Millennial Factor for Telecom Providers, one of the attendees asked the question "Do companies need to treat millennials and non-millennials differently?" It's an interesting question for companies to think about. Will changing their customer experience for millennials benefit the non-millennials (such as the baby boomers)? Or, will changing their strategy to focus on millennials negatively influence the less digitally-oriented boomers?

When evaluating what millennials are looking for today with customer experience, it might seem easy to conclude that businesses should treat the two groups similarly. Businesses might choose to address these groups based on what channel each group uses for customer service, rather than the generation of the customer accessing it. Unfortunately, focusing on each channel individually results in a fragmented experience (especially when a customer needs to use multiple channels), which leads to increased customer frustration and poor customer effort scores. However, addressing customer experience from the view of millennials would be beneficial for non-millennials as well given the wide ranging push towards digital transformation.

Let's consider what these two groups have in common and what differentiates them. Millennials and non-millennials look to interact with all brands via digital and social channels. Millennials grew up in the age of the internet and are accustomed to having information at their fingertips. However, recent research has shown that baby boomers are also comfortable using the internet and spend more time than millennials online. The digital revolution has transformed phone self-service to a more digital self-service today. In addition, time is of the essence today. Millennials want the information now, but who doesn’t? Providing the information quickly will benefit all consumer groups.

Consumers are often on multiple channels and devices. While millennials are less likely to prefer speaking with a voice agent than boomers, they do occasionally have to use the voice channel and expect the same level of service as a digital channel. Offering the voice channel as a fallback option with the ability to transfer context from other channels as required can be the perfect bridge to all consumer groups. Lastly, millennials expect personalized experiences such as they experience while using brands like Netflix and Amazon. This personalized experience benefits all age groups.

To treat millennials and non-millennials as one requires companies to move from previously channel-centric engagement to intent-driven engagement. With intent-driven engagement, companies can anticipate what the customer is trying to do and engage them at the right time across the right channel, thus fulfilling the customer journey in the quickest manner possible, regardless of their generation. If the journey crosses channels, intent-driven engagement ensures context is transferred, thus delivering a holistic experience. Here are a few easy, quick hints for enterprises looking to deliver intent-driven engagement:

  • Digital Self-Service: When millennials and non-millennials look for quick information during either acquisition or servicing journeys (such as best credit card to pay off debt, where is the nearest retail store, etc.), digital self-service using an online virtual assistant can provide the information quickly and with minimal effort for the consumer.
  • Assistance on digital channels: For complex questions either on web or mobile, seamless transfer to a chat agent ensures consumers can have the same continuous experience when a journey reaches the complexity that requires live agent interaction.
  • Digitize phone experiences: There are two ways to drive a digital experience over phone channels. Leveraging the massive use of smartphones by consumers today, consumers calling an IVR can have a multimodal experience incorporating speech, touch and visual display for a unique digital experience. In addition, those using the phone to speak to a voice agent are often frustrated with long IVR menus and hold times. Offering callers the option to chat with live agents via their smartphones helps drive lower average handle times, improve first contact resolution and deliver a better customer experience.

Investments in the above mentioned technologies can help drive business outcomes, while ensuring what's being used for millennials is also equally applicable for the non-millennials. This also delivers a quick return on investment by reducing total cost of ownership, reducing customer effort during all acquisition and servicing journeys, and increasing overall NPS. Treating both groups as one enables companies to move away from fragmented experiences and brings customer experience to the forefront of their strategic initiatives.

Vijai Shankar, Sr. Director Industry Marketing
Vijai Shankar, Sr. Director Industry Marketing

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