Millennials Are Changing the Customer Service Game

How Can Businesses Keep Up With Consumers’ Changing Needs?

Graphic Deanna Hewitt

Customer service: it is the core of the interaction between a business and a consumer.

It is the backbone of profits, and the leading aspect for maintaining returning customers.

It is a term that is widely used in order to determine if a business is worthy of customers, a term used mostly in a negative manner. Although many people may enjoy a nice meal, or just a pleasant shopping experience, it’s the negative experiences that mark you.

From personal experience, no matter how many times a consumer may compliment your customer service, it is the negative experiences that can break you. It may not seem urgent to write a positive review about an experience you had because you had a good time. The level of urgency will change when the opposite happens. It’s a remarkable phenomenon that has me thinking, what does this mean for the future of businesses?

Firstly, there are standards of customer service that we expect from businesses, but in recent years businesses have learned a tough lesson from the cyber world.

We expect quality, not only in our products but in every aspect of the purchasing experience. We want options. We require a personalized experience that fits our unique needs. We want the business we buy from to care, and we need to connect with the business and the faces that represent it. We want ease, accessibility, and speed. A business should anticipate these needs and ensure that we are getting the very best end of the bargain.

A study conducted by customer contact platform NewVoiceMedia that the baby boomer generation was less likely to switch companies because of bad customer service than millennials—62 per cent of millennials answered that they would switch, compared to 27 per cent of baby boomers.

This shows that businesses are progressively facing more pressure to provide exceptional customer service, as many customers are increasingly eager to switch companies on impulse and to share negative experiences online.

First impressions are extremely valuable, and there are fewer opportunities for second chances. What does this mean for businesses?

As the expectations are changing, so should customer service techniques. Millennials will continue to assert themselves as a major consumer force in the coming years, so businesses will have to accommodate their purchasing preferences.

Companies are starting to change the way they serve customers based on their changing needs, switching from phone service to email service, or newsletters to social media. Now, customer service is under the microscope to see what works best and how to effectively give people what they want. Consumers don’t have to go far to determine if a business is worthy of their time and money. It’s public knowledge now.

There are severe potential impacts on a business’s future. I believe that the recent Sears bankruptcy declaration department stores is partially due to the lack of customer service representation, along with an insufficient online and social media presence. Long wait times and unsatisfactory service couldn’t keep the established business alive, or interesting enough for younger consumers.

Failure in these aspects will lead to a loss of long time customers. The profits will start to drop and employees will have no choice but to search elsewhere for new jobs. People will speak badly of the company in question, and reach for outlets to warn fellow consumers. Moreover, the multitude of platforms for people to vent about their misfortunes surrounding customer service will only become more visible and dominant. If one of your friends on Facebook wrote that they had a horrible experience at a clothing store you love, there is a chance that you might not visit that store again. As each business closes its doors, the pressure mounts for those with a fighting chance.

Training staff is another important aspect, and giving them opportunities to learn how to be efficient in their service. Product knowledge helps relate the customer to the product; a knowledgeable sales assistant makes a normally stressful activity more leisurely.

Taking the time to ensure that these pillars of your business are strong is crucial because they are the basic steps into succeeding in the business world. Customer service requires patience, and a business’s main cause for downfall is simply not investing enough time into the representatives of their business.

Although the baby boomers hold true to their purchase power, millennials are quickly stepping onto the scene with different needs and more of a will to switch companies impulsively.

Maintaining satisfactory customer service that meets the changing standards is surely easier said than done, but the necessity is clear. Otherwise, the percentage of new customers will drop drastically and you’ll find yourself saying, “What could we have done differently?” The real question might be: “Did businesses ever really stand a chance?”