Retail Customer Service in the Time of the Millennial Mindset

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Customer Retention
Customer Service
When it comes to customer service, retailers are constantly searching for new techniques to personalize the shopping experience, catering to the specific individual, not the masses. However, this modern mindset seems to fly out the window when we speak about Millennials. This group of young consumers--myself included--rarely seems to warrant the same attention, as we are seen as a single entity, one often deemed mysterious, narcissistic, and lazy. Yet, while this definition appears to be widely accepted, what most retailers fail to recognize is that these descriptors apply to nearly the entire population. (Especially the lazy part!) But the beauty ultimately lies within the fact that each demographic has much to teach retailers about the customer experience as a whole.

When it comes to customer service, retailers are constantly searching for new techniques to personalize the shopping experience, catering to the specific individual, not the masses. However, this modern mindset seems to fly out the window when we speak about Millennials. This group of young consumers--myself included--rarely seems to warrant the same attention, as we are seen as a single entity, one often deemed mysterious, narcissistic, and lazy. Yet, while this definition appears to be widely accepted, what most retailers fail to recognize is that these descriptors apply to nearly the entire population. (Especially the lazy part!) But the beauty ultimately lies within the fact that each demographic has much to teach retailers about the customer experience as a whole.Though these three tips may simply appear to be the random musings of "one of those" crazy Millennials, take a deeper look, for the Gen Y perspective may not be as befuddling as you think:

Hire employees that are knowledgeable and enthusiastic. There's nothing worse than asking a sales associate a question and realizing you know more than they do. We all have an abundance of information at our fingertips, regardless of age, so customers will most likely know a thing or two about what they're looking to purchase before they pass through your doors. I cannot tell you how many times I've walked into a store hoping for a clear, concise response from someone who supposedly knows what they're talking about only to have to consult Google later. Call me crazy, but shopping shouldn't require a second (or third, or fourth) opinion. There are only so many locations I can visit before I run out of "reliable" resources! Also, be sure that these individuals don't look like they're dragging a ball and chain everywhere they go. Recently, when I purchased a frozen drink from my favorite bagel shop, the woman rolled her eyes and proceeded to make the most appalling concoction I've ever tasted. But honestly, that only made me want to order another upon my next visit. No, I'm not evil. I'm just not willing to let such horrible service deter me--that's what she wanted, after all!

Stop following me around the store like a lost puppy dog. Frustration knows no age limits, and when your salespeople stalk customers throughout the store, they're essentially chasing them out the door. Typically, when I enter a store, I intend to browse, even if only initially. I appreciate when sales associates ask if I need help, but when I decline, I expect the employee to wander off and wait for me to come to them. If I need assistance, I will most definitely ask (unless there's no one available, in which case we have an entirely different issue at hand). But, in many stores, the associate will latch on and refuse to let go. They will slink along behind you, strike up conversation, and completely hinder the pondering behind the purchase process. At times, the stalking even borders on suspicion, as if they don't trust me and are watching my every move. I can't think clearly think if you're chatting incessantly, I can't feel comfortable if you're making me feel like a criminal, and I can't contemplate my options if you're constantly shoving other items in my face. Customers will come to you as long as you make yourself approachable. Don't chase them right into the arms of the competition.

Don't make mobile part of your in-store strategy if customers can't get a signal. Frankly, I cannot quite comprehend why retailers are so concerned about showrooming, as I cannot remember the last time I got service inside any mall, supermarket, or big box store. Even if I manage to capture a bar or two, the load time remains awful and inefficient. In most instances, my smartphone simply comes along for the ride, bouncing around inside my purse until I return to the car (or move toward the doorway when desperate). No, Millennials are not the only ones smashing into displays and tripping over other customers because they've got their noses glued to the screen. Everyone experiences this very issue, yet major retailers continue to build applications to aid the in-store process even though they're impossible to download while shopping. But don't try and entice me with your free in-store Wi-Fi--I don't feel like signing in using my email address only to have to unsubscribe from your mailing list later. I survived the first 22 years of my life without a smartphone attached to my hip while shopping, and I think I will continue to do so regardless of connectivity. It allows me an extra hand to hold my items, after all!

To learn about CX professionals that are leading the way with superior customer service and strategy, please check back on Wednesday at 7 p.m. EDT when we announce the winners of our 2013 1to1 Media Customer Champions awards!

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION