Millennials Like to Complain, but Tend to Be Loyal Customers, J.D. Power Finds


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Millennials are more likely to file customer complaints than other generations, even Baby Boomers, according to a report from J.D. Power. The study of more than 600,000 consumers revealed that Millennials have a lower tolerance for customer service issues, errors, and delays than Boomers,tend to value effective issue resolution more than their older counterparts, and tend to reward brands that solve customer service challenges with their loyalty.

Millennials are more problem-sensitive, explains Peter Trujillo, an industry analyst at J.D. Power, because they are laser-focused on value. "Millennials have tons of debt and not much money, and when they don't get what they pay for, they're disappointed. They expect things to work for them. This is a generation that never even had to blow into their Nintendo cartridge," he says. Other generations, however, often have adopted a "This is how it is" attitude, he adds.

But Millennials' likelihood to complain is not the same across industries. When it comes to electric utilities, for example, Millennials complained an average of two times over a period of three months, and boomers complained 0.5 times. And while boomers reached out to their wireless carriers an average of 0.5 times as well, Millennials complained 1.7 times.

"The most striking industry differences emerge when Millennials have a price disadvantage," Trujillo says. Automotive insurance rates, for example, tend to be significantly higher for Millennials, which is why their satisfaction is lower and complaints are more frequent. Conversely, industries where Millennials have a price advantage, such as healthcare, see higher satisfaction rates and less complaints.

More likely to reach out to customer service, Millennials display some unique patterns while they do so. They're more likely, the research revealed, to reuse the product or interact with the brand after an issue has been resolved, and are more loyal than Boomers in this regard. Millennials also prefer self-service for issue resolution and avoid call centers whenever possible. "They want to get service on their own time," Trujillo says. "If they're forced to talk to a person, they will, but they'd rather avoid it. They want to be able to handle issues largely through self-service [channels]."

And privacy isn't as much of a concern for Millennials, assuming they get something in exchange for their information. They're willing to share their data, for example, if it means a more personalized customer experience or service. 

One of the biggest takeaways from the report is how much Millennials value customer experience, noted Keith Webster, senior vice president and general manager of service industries Americas at J.D. Power, in a company statement:

"Our studies indicate that Millennials are different from previous generations; however, it's really the nuances of the customer experience that set them apart from the rest. And it's those nuances that are so critical for business leaders to know right now as they wrestle with the challenge of anticipating customer demand in an incredibly fast-moving marketplace where getting it wrong can have catastrophic effects."


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