Millennials and Today's "Experience Economy"

A $1 trillion opportunity awaits for companies that can deliver exceptional service.

Good news for every company grappling with today's economy: A $1 trillion market can be yours for the taking."Millennials" - the 80 million Americanswho exercise this economic clout - want to do business with you.Just one hitch: You must deliver a superior service experience when, where, and how they like it.

Recentresearch from Convergys provides a revealing picture of this powerful, fast-growing customer group and the unique traits that set them apart.As would be expected, people who have been reared on the Internet, mobility, and real-time everything have very high service demands.What's surprising is how quickly they're using social media and other technologies to drive their needs and hold companies to a new standard of performance.As fast as you can say, "Twitter," Millennials are pushing companies beyond a classic service economy toward an "experience economy," where relationship management is a key factor in determining the relevancy and quality of the service experience for consumers like the Millennials.

Here's how that new world is shaping up, from Generation Y's point of view;

  • Millennials care deeply about the service experience.They value a company/brand they can trust to deliver a superior experience.
  • Intelligent self-service is the new personalization.For a Millennial, the benchmark of the superior service experience is intelligent self-service.Immersed in today's inter-networked communities, Millenials like automated, multichannel options that "know" them and can initiate "ambient conversations" on their issues and needs.
  • Woe to the company that delivers a bad experience.Don't be fooled by high customer satisfaction scores: Satisfied does not equal loyal. Some 73 percent of Millennials will leave after one bad experience, and 85 percent tell others about that poor experience.Why that matters: Think 1.5 million blogs and 3 million tweets posted daily.Run afoul of a Millennial, and your company could find itself on the receiving end of wide-reaching negative word of mouth.

How do you serve such a smart, tough crowd of customers and compete in the new experience economy?The simple answer is to think like they do, adopting an "outside in" approach to service that begins and ends with the customer perspective.

Here are several pointers that may help to reverse-engineer a strategy based on what Millennials want:

  • Understand the Millennial impact.Be prepared to meet their unique service expectations, and have the technical competency to use broadly networked digital communications applications.
  • Get the "ambient conversation" right.Be efficient in providing Millennials with multichannel solutions in sync with their proclivity for shifting attention rapidly from one task to another.
  • Leverage business intelligence for proactive care.Merely answering a Millennial's question is no longer sufficient.You must take service a step further by using intelligent technologies that reach out to notify customers and solve problems proactively, or to provide tailored offers based on their interests.

Noted authors Chris Brogan and Julien Smith draw a similar conclusion in their new book, Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust. In today's marketplace, the authors contend, companies must strive to be "trust natives using the Web to be genuine and humanize their business."

To some, the idea of humanizing care via technology might seem alien, even contradictory.If that describes your company, open your eyes.The old service economy is finished.The tech-based experience economy is here.Millennials don't think in terms of your service -- they care about their experience, enriched by constant contact and feedback via automated systems.For this unique group of customers, intelligent self-service is high touch and uniquely personal.It is what they like and what they trust.

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About the Author: Ryan Pellet is Vice President, Global Consulting Services, at Convergys