New generations of customers, mainly the Millennials (born between 1981 and 1995) and the new wave, Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2010) are changing customer serivce dramatically. To start with, they live and breathe technology—this affects their behavior and consumption habits. These generations demand and become early adopters of a growing number of technological solutions based on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and Neural Networks. These new technologies are transforming the way that companies are interact with customers and, indeed, are the only way to satisfy these digital natives.
What is the profile of these new consumers? How can companies earn their loyalty?
These generations were born and raised in an interconnected world. Their value system, based on freedom and participation, represents a clean break from older generations. They prefer to share rather than own. They multitask, shop for everything online, and reach out to brands on social media. Making a phone call or sending an e-mail are considered archaic practices, which at the least, cause impatience and anxiety. At the worst, this need for immediacy leads them to automatically abandon or reject a brand.
Focusing on these generations is not merely a passing phase. It is important to understand that their characteristics, needs and demands have created a structural transformation in the market: they represent 27% of the world’s population. By 2025, they will account for 75% of the world’s work force.Companies must not only respond and meet the needs of their customers on the spot, but they must create experiences that trigger positive experiences for the customer. Why? Because these positive experiences speak wonders to their friends, family and followers. This fosters a company’s good reputation, attracting new customers and inducing loyalty in existing ones. But how do these new generations define great customer service?
To create a successful customer experience, companies should keep in mind these seven characteristics:
- Be digital: these generations consider technology to be an extension of their body. The virtual world makes up most of their day-to-day activities. Internet is their tool of choice for any interaction or relationship.
- Be fast: The speed that they receive responses to their problem or request is crucial to feeling valued. If they contact the company, it is because their request is urgent and necessary, and not a voluntary choice.
- 24/7 real-time service: These younger generations do not care about office hours. The line between work and life has blurred, and in turn, they expect their needs to be solved around the clock. Real-time conversation is their goal when they seek out customer service on digital channels.
- Quick and easy: When contacting a company, these consumers expect the process to be simple. They should receive answers to their questions on any channel they choose to communicate on. The information should be clearly visible, easy to understand, and helpful. For example, when contacting customer support, the representative should have account details and provide information that cannot be found online. If these consumers dedicate their time to someone or something, it must be worth it. If the result gives them satisfaction, they will share their joy instantly. Likewise, they will just as quickly vent their frustration to the world.
- Friendly and relaxed: It is difficult for companies to do away with structured, formal processes, but these new generations value freedom and choice. It is important that they feel heard and that interactions are natural and relaxed.
- Omnichannel: Their lifestyle is multi-device and hyperconnected. They must be able to find a company everywhere and be able to return to a conversation that they had previously started on another channel. For this to happen, companies must integrate their information and adapt to the rules of each channel.
- Personalized: One of these customers’ demands is that customer support be personalized. Companies have at their disposal a wealth of information on their customers, not only from internal systems, but also from the same social networks customers contact them on. This data is a valuable resource. With it, companies can tailor the experience according to the preferences of each customer and provide excellent service in each contact.
Self-sufficiency, autonomy and valuing customers’ time are all key to understanding how these generations behave. To create a successful experience, companies must involve customers, allow them to be protagonists, and make them feel like part of the brand.
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