Posts Tagged ‘ Generation Y ’

The Customer Experience: Generation-Driven?

Are expectations from the younger generations driving changes to customer service and product support?

genyEarlier this week, I came across an article on Forbes.com titled What Kind Of Customer Experience Are Millennials (Gen-Y) Looking For?.  In the article, Micah Solomon, the article’s author, attempts to summarize the expectations of the Millennial generation when it comes to expectations around customer service and customer experience:

Millennials are looking for the same customer experience as are older customers–but even more so. (More efficient, more respectful of their time, easier, more reliable, more transparent, with more choices and more control for the customer.)”

Expectations around customer service, customer experience, and product support are definitely on the rise, though I wouldn’t necessarily say that this is specific to Gen-Y.  In general, people want options when it comes to products and services and how they interact with business.

For example, if you’ve ever needed to contact Amazon’s support, you know they offer different methods to contact them via phone, email, or live chat.  They also have a web interface for their customers to do things like initiate a return, track shipments of orders, manage browsing history, along with a list of other options.  As the customer, I can decide my preference for how I want to interact using the various options Amazon has provided.

serviceAlternatively, red tape can slow down or even destroy a customer’s experience.  If I buy a product from a retail outlet and decide I want to return it, why should I have to fill out a form and then provide my driver’s license, social security number, birth certificate, etc…, just to get refund?

I understand that businesses need to protect themselves from fraudulent returns, but if I have to jump through hoops just to make a return as a customer, I may start looking elsewhere for my next purchase from a business with a less-intrusive return policy.  That extra 15 minutes it costs me to do a return as a customer may also wind up costing the business-in-question a future revenue stream.

If you want to improve your customer experience, don’t look at just Gen-Y, but look at your entire customer base.  As cliché as it sounds, ask your customers for feedback!  Most won’t hesitate to tell you what they want or would like to see if the benefit for them is an improved experience, product, or service.  However, you have to be sure to follow through with implementing at least some of those requests (and make it known to your customer base that those implementations are due directly to customer feedback) to show that you’re receptive to their feedback and suggestions.

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Molding A Culture For Millennials

In a Deloitte survey published last month, almost 5000 Millennials across 18 different countries were asked various questions regarding their gen-y-imageviews on innovation.  According to the survey, 78% of the Millennials surveyed believe innovation is essential to business growth.  However:

  • 52% believe their workplace environment helps them innovate.
  • 26% believe their organization’s leadership encourages innovation and idea sharing regardless of organizational hierarchy.

That’s a huge gap in the number of Millennials who feel innovation is critical, yet who also feel their leadership teams aren’t fostering cultures of innovation.

Where does your company leadership stand on innovation?  Do you believe that innovation comes only from the top?  Should new ideas be shared and implemented based on seniority, or do employees on the frontlines have opportunities to innovate?

A lot of this deals with change.   Well-established companies may be struggling with an old way of thinking that leadership is where all of the good ideas are generated.  53% of respondents perceived that newer businesses were better able to innovate compared to older businesses.

In reality, innovation should come from all levels.  Innovation shouldn’t be thought of as flowing in a pyramid starting at the top.  Instead, think of innovation spreading across a level playing field in an organization.

innovationFrontline employees who work directly with customers are often the ones who see areas for change.  They can spot problems with processes and even products and services.  They’re the ones who hear the most feedback from customers.    That makes them a great source of new ideas.

How do you know if your employees feel they can innovate?  Can they come to you and/or other company leadership and bring up new ideas for products, processes, and solutions?  Do you have any established process for those ideas to be shared?  Are you open to listening to those ideas, or are they quickly dismissed regardless of how innovative they may be?

There are various other studies/surveys that have shown Millennials are less “loyal” in staying with a single employer.  In other words, if they aren’t getting what they perceive is essential to their work environment, they are more likely to find employment elsewhere compared to the other generations.

In seeing how important Millennials feel innovation is, this could also lead to a possible conclusion that businesses who don’t foster a culture of innovation will have a hard time retaining talent from this generation.

There are some other key data points in the Millennial Innovation survey:

  • 66% of respondents agreed that innovative organizations will be better positioned to attract talent.
  • Innovation was considered a top reason for the purpose of business.
  • Employee satisfaction and retention was ranked as the #1 non-financial  measurement for business success (the interesting part about this is that this category could be further broken down by the Employee Work Passion survey published by The Ken Blanchard Companies on what factors affect employee satisfaction).

No matter where you are in your organization’s hierarchy, what are you doing to foster innovation?

Leave your comments!

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