You may have heard anecdotes or experienced firsthand the sometimes flippant and petulant nature of Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000). They're demanding, impatient, and, in a nutshell, don't suffer fools gladly. They seem to spend all their time texting or on social media, and are more digitally savvy than you can ever hope to be. In spite of being perceived as a difficult consumer segment, they still need exceptional customer service, and companies that don't get this message are setting themselves up for failure.
"Millennials are jaded and have a mindset of 'You're here to answer my questions and I don't need a lot of extra politeness or useless carrying on. Answer my question and get me where I need to go,'" says Martha Brooke, program director and founder of Interaction Metrics,a customer experience audit company. "They don't want useless pleasantries; they want to get down to the nuts and bolts of answering their questions, of being a helpful resource."
For many companies, customer service efforts geared toward Millennials have been put on the back burner as they choose instead to focus on Baby Boomers and Gen X and Y. While those population segments have enormous buying power, companies would be greatly mistaken to ignore the younger generation. According to The Boston Consulting Group, there are roughly 79 million Millennials in the United States, comprising 25 percent of the population. The company's 2013 research found that Millennials have an estimated $1.3 trillion in direct annual spending, and their buying power will climb as they mature.
Even with this evidence, many companies have still short-changed their Millennial customers, ignoring the two channels on which most Millennials communicate—social media and mobile. A recent International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) survey of more than 400 contact center managers found that 68 percent of businesses recognized social media as a necessary service channel, yet only 60 percent had a formal social customer care initiative in place. A second study by ICMI showed similar results for mobile care, with 61 percent not yet providing service through that channel.
Additionally, Millennials are finding customer service response times agonizingly slow. A 2013 study by eDigital Research found that 80 percent of social media responses took an average of 12 hours, compared to an average phone wait time of just 56 seconds.
Meeting Millennials Where They Live
Companies should first do their homework and research behavior patterns of Millennials, advises Natalie Petouhoff, vice president and principal analyst at