Reports indicate that by the end of 2017, Millennials will have more buying power than any other generation.
It’s that time of year again…young people from across the country are graduating and launching headlong into the “real world,” applying for jobs with little more than an undergraduate degree and perhaps a few internships (and that one summer gig scooping ice cream) on their resumes.
Contrary to popular belief, many Millennials will still be graduating from college this year, especially those who pursued a longer than “typical” four-year college or undergraduate program, which is quite common, according to Forbes. As these young Millennials land roles in corporate America, buying power for the generation will only increase. In fact, many reports indicate that by the end of 2017, Millennials will have more buying power than any other generation. Furthermore, a study from the Intelligence Group found that “by 2020, when they will become the majority of the workforce…their annual spending will have doubled.”
Compared to their parents, many of whom are from the Baby Boomer generation, Millennials spend money differently and have distinct expectations from the companies they love. For example, several market research firms have found that Millennials prefer to spend money on experiences rather than possessions. And while they have retirement saving on their minds, 80% are not investing in the stock market, according to a Harris Poll, which further shows they are not like those who came before them.
Companies cannot ignore the fact that Millennials and their unique needs are here to stay – and as their spending power continues to grow, customer experiences will be vitally important.
So, where should you go from here?
As the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility” – and in this case, the responsibility falls on financial institutions. What do financial service providers need to do to adjust their customer service approaches to attract and retain Millennials as loyal consumers?
As a global leader in customer experiences, Convergys has found success in meeting Millennials where they already are. Here are a few tips your customer service teams can use to find similar success:
Invest in technology
If it isn’t already, make chat top of mind. We have found that 25-34 year olds are more likely to use chat for customer service than any other age group (57% of this cohort said they used chat recently). Additionally, Forrester uncovered that chat usage rates have risen steadily in the past few years, from 38% in 2009 to 65% in 2015. Now is the time to make sure your customer service chat functions are top-notch. Digital savvy agents should be prepared and trained to serve the generation that already relies so heavily on technology in all other aspects of their lives.
- Apply intelligent automation, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), to reduce costs and streamline customer facing processes. RPA can reduce the effort needed to complete tasks like: basic form filling and data entry, rekeying data, or moving files from one system to another; navigating through databases and systems to access, manipulate, and update information; and validating account information, consolidating reports, basic troubleshooting, and more.
- For example, through Back Office RPA, Convergys has experienced a 25% reduction in completion time, and Desktop RPA has reduced average handle time 45%. Implement agent-facing tools to help customer service representatives deliver the right content at the right time, as well as learn how to better serve consumers more quickly than ever before. Some tools can act as a virtual meeting room of sorts, allowing agents to quickly connect with team members who have the right resources to answer tough consumer questions, while others provide data and analytics behind customer interactions in (almost) real-time. These types of tools have the ability to dramatically increase speed resolution and reduce effort for both customers and agents alike.
Get personal – but not in the traditional way
For Millennials, personalization does not mean using a consumers name and asking about the weather. These are fillers that this generation will see right through. It is time to cut to the chase, especially after Forrester found that 73% of millennials believe valuing their time is the most important thing to good support. When serving customers, agents should keep in mind that personalization should establish authentic, timely, and mutually beneficial connections with customers, based on what is known about their questions, needs, preferences and past behaviors. A recent report found Millennials view the following as personalization behaviors that go above and beyond the traditional approach, leading to higher customer satisfaction, lower effort for both the consumer and agent, as well as higher Net Promoter Scores (used to gauge the loyalty of customer relationships):
- Acknowledgement of the issue and offering sincere advice
- Showing urgency in fixing the issue
- Clearly explaining the solution and answering questions
- Detailing next steps and providing a timeline for a resolution
Offer a variety of customer service channels and keep issue complexity top of mind.
- There is no doubt that consumers are in the driver’s seat today, and financial institutions must offer the customer service options that they expect and demand from every company they interact with. Our 2016 survey of more than 6,400 consumers indicated that customers prefer to use self-service channels for easy issues (such as mobile, social media and website functions), and tend to leave more complex issues for customer service professionals to handle via phone, online chat or in-person.
- Satisfaction levels directly correlate to the availability of preferred channels. In fact, 80% of consumers said they were satisfied when they used preferred channels for easy issues, and 75% were satisfied when using preferred channels for more complex issues. Financial customer service departments should route complex interactions to top performing agents and ensure they are savvy on every channel in order to best serve consumers.
Providing exceptional customer service to Millennials needs to be one of the top priorities in the financial services industry. Businesses that find a healthy balance between technology and access to preferred service channels, in conjunction with exceptional agent behaviors, will have a leg up on their competition by serving this influential generation the way they want to be served.•