Companies must provide digital-first omnichannel experiences to meet consumer expectations and effectively compete in the experience economy.
That is the key takeaway from the third annual 2019 NICE inContact Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark report, which details how understanding younger generations’ use of – and expectations around – next-generation solutions like artificial intelligence (AI) and digital channels including private social messaging are fundamental to building exceptional, best-in-class Customer Experience.
As millennials and Generation Z become dominant consumer groups, with Gen Z purchasing already reaching an estimated $100 billion, according to research conducted by Barkley, their comfort level and familiarity with multiple digital channels including social messaging and chatbots means organisations, no matter their size, must provide digital-first omnichannel experiences to meet consumer expectations and effectively compete in the experience economy.
The global study reveals that almost 60 percent of Gen Z and millennials have used private social messaging for customer service. In contrast, just 38 percent of Gen X, 19 percent of baby boomers and 16% of those born before 1945 have done so.
The majority ofGen Z and millennials also want companies to allow them to interact with customer service using private social messaging apps (72 percent and 69 percent, respectively).
Meanwhile, consumers are using AI more and feeling more positive about chatbots over time. Half of all consumers have used AI for any purpose (50 percent), compared to 2018 (45 percent).
This can be attributed to a significant increase in the use of an automated assistant/chatbot online (34 percent, up from 25 percent in 2018). Gen Z and millennials are more likely to agree that chatbots make it easier and quicker for their issues to get resolved, and are also the most likely of all generations to have used all forms of AI for any purpose, as well as for customer service.
Seamless digital-first omnichannel experiences, meanwhile, are vital to a positive Customer Experience. Most consumers (93 percent) want seamless omnichannel experiences, and yet they are increasingly giving companies a poor rating on seamlessly switching between channels – 73 percent give companies a poor rating, up from 67 percent in 2018.
This is especially important for meeting and exceeding the expectations of millennials and Gen Z, who are the most likely to have experienced omnichannel customer service (16 percent and 21 percent, respectively).
Paul Jarman, NICE inContact CEO, said: “Understanding the nuances of what consumers expect, and how they actually engage with brands via a myriad of digital channels, and integrating these in-demand channels seamlessly to deliver digital-first omnichannel experiences, is key to sustainable growth.
“The NICE inContact CX Benchmark looks beyond education around demographic customer service trends and gets to the root of what makes new channel options attractive. Millennials and Gen Z are bellwethers of what consumers expect and are increasingly likely to recommend a company on social media based on personal experiences – the influence they wield is tremendous.”
FOMO, or ‘fear of missing out’, has become a phenomenon among the millennial generation.
Millennials are spending more, travelling more, and seeking experiences more than any other generation, with Gen Z close behind. Of course, millennial instincts for sharing are well documented, as they are constantly in search for places to post about their experiences. Social media only adds fuel to their FOMO fire, enticing them to spend ever-increasing shares of their disposable income on experiences so they feel like they are keeping pace with their perpetually posting peers.
While these behaviours may strike fear in the heart of retailers attempting to capture their share of millennial disposable income, they actually point directly toward new and unprecedented opportunities to differentiate. For perhaps the first time in my lifetime, price is no longer the defining factor in purchase decisions. In fact, just the opposite is the new norm: millennials are consistently willing to pay premium prices for products, when they are accompanied by engaging experiences.
Taking full advantage of this unique opportunity requires more than the occasional loyalty perk, trunk show, or Instagrammable moment. Building a dedicated community of loyal customers requires one to become an active part of that community. And there really are no shortcuts. Joining a community takes time, dedication and persistence. If retailers ultimately want to bring the community to their brand, they first have to bring their brand to the community.
To date, few retailers have capitalised on this rare opportunity to differentiate on something other than product or price, generally by investing in mobile engagement strategies that extend beyond the smartphone. Those who have succeeded at becoming a meaningful part of their communities, have done so through innovative content tactics that engage with people who share a core set of interests, beliefs, and behaviours:
1. They develop a sense of purpose for their brand, and they design brand experiences that reflect that purpose, to create connections with people who have similar lifestyles and values.
2. They consistently go where their customers gather and bring their brands to them through pop-up experiences and shopping opportunities.
3. They develop a mindset and culture that embrace mobile engagement first – and then design each experience accordingly.
Creating a reason for millennials to connect
In a world of endless choices filled with new competitors around every corner, brands that have lived by the ‘one-stop-shop’ mantra are being picked off one by one. Meanwhile, more focused niche brands are thriving. These brands – which most typically have a clearly defined sense of purpose – understand that “finding your tribe” is critical to developing meaningful connections.
Finding your tribe requires that you identify a community based upon shared interests, values, beliefs, and behaviours. Doing so can reap both short – and long-term – benefits for the business:
Developing and nurturing a tribe can help brands identify, establish and design experiences based upon a value proposition that is relevant to and resonates with their target community.
Identifying with people of similar values and lifestyles can help nurture authentic relationships that tend to be durable and long-lasting.
Relationships built upon common beliefs and shared values typically engender feelings of loyalty that can lead to greater long-term recurring revenue.
Brands that will thrive for the long term will do so by recognising that they must continually contribute to and empower their communities, which will result in deeper, more meaningful relationships.
Nurturing relationships requires a commitment to being an active part of the community, and retailers can no longer rely solely upon their stores as the centrepiece to their community-building strategies. Once again, we can learn from the emerging niche brands. Most emerged as digital natives, but they quickly learned that physical, ‘in real life’ (IRL) connections are critical to nurturing community, particularly with the millennial generation. Many have looked to pop-up shops as a key element of their IRL engagement strategies, and the pop-up industry is suddenly booming.
As the experience economy continues to expand, the number of opportunities to connect where your community gathers grows exponentially. Festivals, for example, exist to bring like-minded people together. Today, people – particularly millennials – gather in large numbers at Harry Potter festivals, craft beer festivals, cat video festivals, yoga festivals, chocolate festivals, duct tape festivals, The Big Lebowski festivals and, yes, even FOMO festivals.
From portable canopies at local events to elaborate temporary shopfronts in high-rent city centres, savvy retailers are investing in imaginative pop-up experiences that bring their brands directly to those places where people gather. By their very definition, pop-up shops – temporary, soon-to-disappear experiences – are perfectly suited to capitalise on Millennial FOMO. Unsurprisingly, pop-ups have grown into what many analysts estimate to be as much as a £60B industry.
Creating connections that last
Whether it be through pop-up shops, permanent shops, social media or digital channels, retailers need to connect with millennials on their own terms. Each experience must be designed to reflect the values, behaviours and aspirations of these FOMO-fearing shoppers. Because FOMO is here to stay. It’s simply time to learn how to benefit from it and to create connections that last beyond the next promotion or offer.
Retailers can tap into this rapidly expanding opportunity by considering their audiences values, finding where they gather, and becoming an active, engaged part of their community.
Otherwise, I fear it’s retailers who will be missing out.
Described as a ‘generation disrupted’, millennials are a pivotal talking point in every sphere.
Deloitte’s most recent millennial survey uncovers the impact continuous change and instability has had on younger generations. Their lack of trust towards employers and business leaders has bred cynicism and dissatisfaction towards their financial situations and jobs.
The rapidly changing world of business, where an increasing number of organisations are determined to grow quickly and become more profitable with fewer resources, could be a contributing factor to this view. It’s unsurprising that millennial cynicism is breeding a new set of workplace standards that’s forcing businesses to revaluate the way they address engagement to attract and retain millennial talent.
But why is engaging this particular generation so important? In years to come millennials and Gen Ys will make up the bulk of the workforce and whilst they won’t completely rule the roost, they’re already shaping and influencing business and workforce landscapes. There’s an increasing need to build their trust and inspire loyalty.
So, what do these insights mean for organisations and the way they engage with this particular workforce?
Alongside millennials, technology and digitisation are rapidly shaping the business landscape. We’re in the midst of a transition into a new working world also known as ‘Industry 4.0’. With artificial intelligence taking on more roles in the workplace and widening industries providing the ability to define new jobs, shifts and subsequent challenges are rocking the employment world.
The impact on workers is clear and although this new industry 4.0 is a work in progress, there will be a change in demand of skills required. A significant proportion of millennials and Gen Zs feel they aren’t fully equipped with these skills, and expect they’ll have to evolve their own capabilities to increase their value to employers.
The debate over how these skills will be acquired and who’s primarily responsible for preparing workers for the future is interesting. Millennials put the onus on employers. However, a separate 2019 Deloitte global survey focussing on Industry 4.0, found that leaders were more likely to say the responsibility fell on government and schools rather than businesses.
This shows a significant disconnect between employers and young employees on who should take responsibility for preparing them for future skills requirements that will result from Industry 4.0. It’s within the company’s best interests to support and invest in their employees otherwise they’re just adding minimal value or actively working against the organisation.
The temptation to go alone
The report also found that nearly half of millennials would, given the choice, quit their current jobs in the next two years. Their reasons for this revolve around pay, and lack of both opportunities to advance and learning development. Although it’s easier to pretend that retention isn’t an issue, it is. Not only is recruitment expensive and time consuming, a high employee turnover rate doesn’t exactly enhance morale and makes it much harder for other remaining employees to maintain productivity.
We also can’t ignore the fact it’s an employee’s job market. If your workplace culture doesn’t meet millennials needs, it shouldn’t come as any surprise if they leave – even if they don’t have a job lined up. The rise of the ‘gig economy’ is a big contributing factor to this. This mainly refers to freelance or contract work and 84 percent of millennials said they would consider joining it. Although it brings uncertainty there are clear advantages such as the opportunity to earn more money, work the hours they want and achieve a better work/life balance.
We’re already beginning to see how some of these millennial attitudes are impacting and shaping the workplace. The number of companies offering flexible working arrangements and other ‘gig-like’ features such as sabbatical programmes is a clear sign of these impacts. Giving employees a break every five years can give them something additional to work towards. It’s a reward that offers invaluable opportunities such as travelling, studying or spending time with family.
These programmes vary from employer to employer. Nando’s offers a paid four-week sabbatical for every five years of continual service. Similarly, EY in Australia has introduced a number of new flexible work initiatives, including the option for employees to take up to 12 weeks of ‘Life Leave’. Although these initiatives can just be seen as another retention tool, they do come with their benefits. In a talent market where a lot of employers are saying the same thing, the only way to truly differentiate yourself is to create policies that support your claims.
Offering flexible working, autonomy, opportunities to make an impact and sabbatical programmes demonstrate trust in employees and shows that you respect their professional and personal lives as well as their general wellbeing. This is a huge differentiator when it comes to marketing yourself as a good employer. Free lunches, beanbags, and gym memberships are all well and good, but nothing can compete with time for personal growth or time spent with family.
What should organisations do differently?
Millennials and Gen Zs who responded to this report want all of the talk organisations gives to their purpose, culture, and values to become meaningful action, and to serve as agents for positive change. To inspire trust and loyalty, businesses need to demonstrate how they’re supporting their younger workforce and do so in a way that’s meaningful and authentic.
For millennials to have such an appetite and expectations for organisations to be enhancing lives, it’s no surprise they’re distrusting and cynical when they don’t see enough businesses taking responsibility for investing in their people. When this generation are going to make up the bulk of the workforce and become the main influencers of your organisation, they’ll be the first to call out when you stray from your purpose and values.
All of this means that investing in and showing genuine support towards your employees shouldn’t be limited generationally. The world of work is changing, and companies can no longer turn a blind eye to how much they rely on the energy, loyalty and engagement of all of their employees to survive.
Today we are swamped with a plethora of digital tools to communicate with one another, from Whatsapp, texting, Facebook, Instagram, to email, and much more.
We are led to believe that these technologies make communications easier but at the same time we are bombarded with messages daily where instant responses are the norm. This multi-tasking is overwhelming and the lack of focus affects our productivity at work and at home.
People are no longer reaching for the phone and it is fast becoming the lost art of communication. Are we getting lost in the digital noise that surrounds us? Is it time to rediscover the power of voice?
Lack of focus
There are over 20 billion devices connected to the internet today. That equates to three devices for every single person (Gartner). With this mind-blowing statistic, it is not surprising that many people suffer from nomophobia (smartphone addiction).
Let’s face it, if the majority of the workforce are constantly checking Instagram, Facebook, and their messages while trying to work, it’s clear productivity levels will reduce.People now multi-tasking more than ever and instant responses to messages are expected. A total of 83 percent of millennials open text messages within 90 seconds of receiving (Openmarket research), and as they are a generation of instant gratification, naturally they expect an instant response. This results in lack of focus, which leads to jobs being half done or not finished, therefore reducing efficiencies and productivity.
Drowning in Emails
Let’s not just blame social media and messaging applications such as Whatsapp – email is also a major culprit. We send roughly 281.1 billion emails a day, a figure that is estimated to increase to 333.2 billion by 2022, according to Statista. Therefore, we would expect that emails often get ignored, deleted or end up in the junk box. Emails are not the most effective way to communicate and it is much easier to use other tools such as picking up the phone.
Digital noise is ubiquitous and we are beginning to get lost in the abyss. Companies are reverting back to using direct marketing campaigns as they are tangible and cut through the digital noise.
Millennials and Generation Z are referred to as Generation Mute because they rarely use the phone to call people, if at all. Bankmycell discovered that 75 percent of Millennials don’t use the phone to make calls as it is too time consuming; instead they much prefer to text, use social media, or send an email than to pick up the phone. Eight-one percent of respondents also acknowledged that they often feel anxious about talking on the phone – indeed, that they sometimes must work up the courage to do so (Bankmycell).
Employer Skills UK discovered that one-in-three job applications don’t have the oral communications skills they require. Naturally, this is an issue for businesses – what was once an expected basic skill has now been eradicated and unbelievably some new recruits are taught how to answer and speak on the phone.
Is it time to come full circle and encourage people to speak on the phone more, and dare I say it – to have more meetings face to face, or at least a video call?While there is no doubt that we have gained tremendously from digital communication tools like Instant Messenger, backed by Millennials and Generation Z in the workplace, we also must be careful not to lose our basic communications and social skills of speaking to people over the phone and face to face.
When and why face-to-face and phone calls cut it
The Harvard Business Review recently discovered that face-to-face requests were 34 times likely to garner a more positive response than emails. So why is face-to-face and over the phone or video communications more effective, and in what situations should we use it over digital communications?
1. When speaking to someone directly, either face-to-face or over the phone, we develop a personal connection with them which is important for communications.
2. We can read people’s body language, understand their tone of voice, expressions and emotions
3. In face-to-face meetings, or over the phone, conversation is natural and fluid.
4. Create a good impression on someone, whether it’s a new or existing client. It’s easier face-to-face or on the phone than over email or messages.
5. Relationships can be strengthened with the connections made in the meeting, with small talk, humour, and a deeper conversation.
6. Clarity! Face-to-face and phone conversations are much clearer with less margin for misinterpretation. Communications over digital communications tools are often unclear and lost in translation.
7. Trust and authenticity are also built more quickly with face-to-face or phone conversations rather than text.
8. Believe it or not, issues are resolved more quickly with face-to-face meetings and phone calls as they are often shorter, as opposed to long email trails and messages.
Meeting someone face to face or phoning them is more time consuming, but it is worth the extra effort. After all, you only get back what you put in.
When should you meet, or make a phone or video call?
1. When you need to resolve something urgently that is rather complex. It’s often easier to get results face-to-face or over the phone as you can talk around the issues seeking for a solution.
2. When you are meeting a new client – if you are meeting a new customer or a prospect then it is a good idea to meet with them so they can see who you are and you can spend some time going through your proposal and getting to know them.
3. When you are chasing someone – if a client or employee has been ignoring your emails and messages then pick up the phone and talk to them about it. It will be much quicker.
4. There are times when you must deliver bad news or discuss something personal and empathy is required. This can only be achieved in a face-to-face meeting or on a phone call.
5. When you want to catch up – you have a business issue to chat through and also it’s been a while since you spoke to the person so you want to catch up with them
Look through the digital noise and out onto the horizon of clarity, and next time you are about to fire off an email or instant message, think for a second would this be better communicated by speaking to someone.
If so then arrange a meeting, take time and have lunch with them, pick up the phone, or make a video call. By choosing the right tool to communicate with, your productivity will increase and you will get the results you want.
Human and social connection is important, let’s not lose that basic skill and let digital tools take over our communications. Sometimes an emoji just won’t cut it!
Employers are risking alienating millennials by treating them as if they are a different ‘culture’, a hospitality industry forum has heard.
Hosted by industry thought-leader, EP Business in Hospitality, in partnership with online learning specialist Upskill People, the event in London highlighted that continually referring to millennials as though they are a different ‘culture’ or ‘nationality’ is both patronising and short-sighted and puts businesses that do not place compassion and people at the top of their agenda at risk of alienating future talent altogether.
In an industry clearly changing at speed, core messages emerging from the session included the need for a modernised learning culture that seeks to understand all perspectives while embracing shared knowledge across all genders, ages, and job titles.
CEO at EP, Chris Sheppardson, explained: “It’s becoming more apparent that the younger generations do have a different perspective and agenda on work and life. They are less focused on getting onto the housing ladder and being saddled with a lifetime mortgage, and are instead living more ‘in the moment’ with a genuine interest in environment and society – arguably to a higher degree that many business leaders. As businesses we must build a stronger connection with our people and change our approach to developing talent.”
The debate also reinforced the harsh reality that talent today doesn’t remain with one employer long-term and will move around more regularly, suggesting that employers need to embrace and even support this concept in the future. Leaders also agreed that to develop talent successfully today, there is a greater need for stronger coaching-led approaches.
Chris added: “Empowerment has almost become an old-fashioned concept and re-engagement is needed here. Too many companies try to control and limit any risk. Too many decisions on people are based on spread sheets and figures. Talent looks to embrace culture, compassion for people and communities in work. People are still the greatest asset of a business and young people today expect companies to play a meaningful role in society as well as in business.”
We are in the midst of a landmark transformation in working culture, with both the biggest companies and the smallest start-ups faced with a workforce holding dramatically different expectations – and needs – from those in years gone by.
Such changes can be overwhelming for some, who struggle to comprehend and facilitate this new landscape, but for those needing guidance, a new book by talent and acquisition expert Bruce Morton could contain the answers they seek.
Morton, who is described as skilled in the field of “international workforce design” has over 40 years’ of experience advising organisations including big-hitters Microsoft, PayPal, and eBay.
His new tome, Redesigning the Way Work Works: Strong Opinions and Advice from 40 Years in the Business, is a guide for employers looking to “change their work architecture to meet employee expectations and compete against other organisations to attract and retain top talent”.
The book explores how the influx of Millennials to the workforce brought with them vastly different expectations than those who have gone before. For the cynics, this does not mean the abandonment of good old fashioned work ethic, because despite the rise in demand for flexibility and employers to build their business around the lives of employees, 87 percent of Millennial staff members still hold career growth and learning as a top priority.
However, stability, structure, and ‘a job for life’ are rapidly becoming obsolete concepts, with Millennials seeking out environments that give them a sense of purpose and help them learn and grow. As Morton outlines, work has gone from somewhere we go to something we do, and companies urgently need to redesign their work architecture to keep up.
Another recent phenomenon explored in Redesigning the Way Work Works include the rise of the ‘talentsumer’, and why firmsmust start viewing employees as ‘consumers of work’. After all, they now expect the same level of service as they do from their favourite consumer brands.
However, although the expectations of employees have changed, many companies still cling to old ideas of how the relationship between employees and work should be.
Redesigning the Way Work Works dismisses some of these myths, which include the idea that recruiters are the ones in the ‘hiring seat’. In reality, the candidates now take this position, meaning hiring top talent is getting harder, and candidates are now the ones choosing where to work. Employers need to offer more to their staff to persuade candidates to choose them.
The book also shatters the notion that Millennials are job-hoppers with itchy feet. They are merely a generation seeking employment with purpose, and who are unafraid to up-sticks and go elsewhere when their needs aren’t met.
One way to ensure these needs are met is to realise that flexible working must be offered to employees to offer a greater work-life balance and keep them satisfied.
Redesigning the Way Work Works is a guide to creating a company culture that responds to employee needs. Morton shows that through redesigning work architecture, businesses can meet employee expectations, compete against other employers, attract the best talent, and create a thriving company culture.
Independently published, Redesigning the Way Work Works by Bruce Morton is available now on Amazon, priced £21.10.
Customer service has always been a critical tenet of any business model, and the internet is beginning to take centre stage in terms of exposure alongside revenue generation.
However, the entire concept of client relations is changing at what can only be called a breakneck pace. This is partially due to the increased level of online competition. Visitors who feel that their needs are not being catered to will simply look elsewhere in order to procure quality products or services.
This is why the concept of engagement needs to be taken very seriously. What changes are taking place and why is it critical to choose the best ecommerce platform for your organisation?
The demanding nature of the Millennial generation
Millennials now represent a significant demographic, and their numbers continue to grow. Coincidentally, this population segment also tends to be the most fickle and challenging in terms of securing a sale (and for good reason). They are well aware of the technology at their disposal. No longer is a visitor willing to wait 20 or 30 seconds for a page to load. In the event of a question or problem, they expect relevant and helpful answers. So, there is little room for error.
In the past, the majority of customer service solutions involved nothing more than a generic page addressing the most frequently asked questions. This is no longer sufficient due to the ‘organic’ nature of the buyer-seller relationship. The needs of the individual should be addressed as opposed to presenting blanket support in the hopes that it will remain sufficient. There are several ways in which this can be accomplished:
Real-time chat windows with a live representative
Dedicated email addresses for different topics (such as sales issues or technical faults)
Social media profiles to enhance real-time interactions
The main issue is that these solutions can be difficult to implement for those who lack the time or the financial flexibility. This is why adopting robust e-commerce solutions is essential.
Targeted and agile e-commerce solutions
E-commerce software was previously defined as architecture meant to expedite the sales process. While this is still relevant, many flexible solutions such as those engineered by Shopify have taken a broader approach to the entire concept.
No longer are these applications limited to online transactions alone. They now provide an all-around means to interact with customers and to present products in an eye-catching manner. In other words, they are intended to streamline the entire notion of client engagement. This is also why e-commerce bundles are absolutely essential in this day and age.
The truth of the matter is that nothing can replace a quality product or service. Still, what takes place ‘behind the scenes’ in regards to customer engagement is now extremely important. Businesses which are able to embrace this decidedly human touch are bound to enjoy sustainable success in the future. There is no better time than the present to implement these techniques in order to meet and exceed the expectations of an online audience.
Millennials and Generation Z may be the customers of the future, but retailers right now need to concentrate on the customers of today – and that means embracing the over-50s.
This generation has money to burn…and is increasingly spending it. In 2016, the over-50s spent more than the younger generation for the first time, according to AOL, and 62 percent of the over-50s aim to spend their savings, according to a survey by Sunlife.
In addition to having more to spend than younger generations, the over-50s are also potentially far more discerning and demanding in their retail habits. Less likely to opt for fast fashion and far more likely to invest in the big ticket items, the over-50s have also experienced the change in retail experience over the last few decades, transforming from the traditional cash registers to the POS systems now present in stores across the globe, which means their shopping habits and expectations are more of a complex mix than those of the digital native generations.
Quality of experience
Of course, the over-50s may not be digital natives, but technology has dominated the workplace for decades. They may not use technology in the same way as Millennials and Gen Zs; they may not be as susceptible to the online influencers, or post their latest purchases on Snapchat, but social media and the quality of online experience are both still relevant.
From customer acquisition strategies to the actual in-store experience, capturing and retaining this affluent generation will require more finesse and greater understanding, as well as excellent timing; the technology is there for the taking, but it’s about how and when it’s used for this generation. The over-50s do not have the same filters as the younger generations when it comes to the online and social media deluge – to avoid rapid disengagement, a more subtle and nuanced approach is key.
This issue is particularly key in-store where the quality of the customer/store associate interaction is a fundamental part of the experience for a generation that is less willing to embrace self-service. But – and to be frank – this is not easy.
Tech-savvy over-50s will have typically started the buying journey online, especially for those big ticket items. They will have a pretty good idea of what they want to buy but will also value the chance to look and feel in-store to determine product quality – something that is still tough to achieve online.
Furthermore, this generation also wants to enjoy the buying experience, to add the quality of a great in-store interaction to the pleasure of making an acquisition. This is where technology is here to help; the cash registers, long queues and lack of personalisation commonplace in retail of the past would not have added up to a great in-store interaction, whereas now, the more targeted, knowledgeable, and streamlined approach could be exactly what this generation is after.
Capture the moment
For the store associate, two issues are therefore key: timing the interaction with the customer and having a depth of information and knowledge that can add value to the online research. Barge in too soon, and the customer will be affronted. Be unable to offer any more insight and knowledge to the discussion and that customer could well walk.
For retailers, however, this is the moment. It is a perfect time to upsell; a brilliant opportunity to create a strong relationship and create a brand advocate, straight from their Point of Sale (POS) devices. The customer has researched enough to be confident to make a purchase and has the money in hand, but just needs a push towards one product or the other.
Developments in technology means that store associates can be armed with both up to date stock information, as well as offers and promotions, plus an inherent interest in the product area is invaluable. Add in access to customer history, including recent purchases, and the foundation is laid for an excellent, personalised interaction – the store associate can upsell, and the customer has a great experience.
Nearly two-thirds of Millennial and Gen Z consumers express a preference for brands that have a point of view and stand for something.
As customers demand a more personalised and meaningful relationship with the brands of their choice, it is imperative you have a clear brand purpose, and if not, you reinvent your strategy.
Brands such as Burger King and Millennium Hotels and Resorts will discuss how they ensure their marketing messages hit the right note with their audience and ensure they stay ahead of the curve during Incite Groups free webinar, 14:00 GMT 3rd April.
Marketing leaders contributing include:
Franck Kermarrec, Chief Marketing Officer, Millennium Hotels and Resorts
Andrea D’Aloia, Brand Director EMEA, Burger King
Ben Roberts, Digital Marketing Strategist and moderator ofMarketing Buzzword Podcast
Positioning themselves in an increasingly congested ecosystem and standing out from the crowd
Moving beyond traditional marketing and what this means for you
(FYI – if you can’t join live, we will send you the recordings if you register).
The Incite Group – a business intelligence company devoted to helping large corporations serve their customers better – is part of FC Business Intelligence Ltd, a registered company in England and Wales – Registered number 0438897. 7-9 Fashion Street, London, E1 6PX, UK.
We now exist in a world where technological innovation is empowering customers to expect more from the brands they deal with, to switch when they’re not happy or satisfied, and share their negative experiences online.
Results from a recent study show that Millennials can be particularly hard to please. Over two-fifths (45 percent) admit to being less loyal to brands when compared to a year ago, and are quicker to abandon companies that don’t meet expectations.
Customers today have a lot of choice and an array of products to choose from, and so it’s understandable that many brands are struggling to get customers to stick around for the long haul. An enormous 76 percent of customers report that it’s now easier than ever to take their business elsewhere whilst a quarter of Millennials would change where they buy goods, based on the shopping experience. Millennials are also the group most unlikely to return to a brand if they have a bad shopping experience.
Shaping buying journeys for the Millennial audience
Brands must work harder to attract buyers and to encourage repeat purchases, particularly from the younger demographic. The question is: ‘are millennials worth the effort?’
The answer is undoubtedly ‘yes’;. Millennials – typically aged between 23-38 – are now all grown up. Millennials’ purchasing power also continues to grow – they now make more online purchases than Generation X or Baby Boomers, and so an argument can now be made that brands should ensure the happiness of these shoppers as a priority over every other demographic.
The key to retail success really could lie in keeping millennials happy. While it’s perhaps no surprise that online fashion purchases are dominated by younger shoppers, every sector, from home and DIY to electrical, health and beauty, or grocery has a significant and growing audience of Millennial buyers – with a set of behaviours, needs, and expectations that are very different to other demographics. If brands want to capture the attention and long-term business of the younger shopper, the way to foster and maintain loyalty needs to change.
Familiarity is a thing of the past
One way to actively build brand loyalty is through superior Customer Experience. Shoppers will no longer stick with a company that they know but delivers sub-par service. Just because they’ve purchased from a brand for several years doesn’t inspire the same shopper affinity it may have in the past – particularly with younger age groups.
This should give retailers and brands serious food for thought – especially given that over three-fifths (61 percent) of consumers have encountered issues when buying goods online in the last 12 months, and can be vocal and unforgiving about poor purchasing experiences. In addition, eight out of 10 Millennialswill never buy anything without first reading a review, which means brands are setting themselves up to alienate or lose customers if they’re not able to own the entire end-to-end experience to an appropriately high level.
Great Customer Experience at every touchpoint, from discovery to delivery and beyond – including outstanding user experiences, same-next day delivery options, real-time shipping and customer-focused returns models – will be key to winning or losing customers, particularly Millennials who are the most sensitive to issues at any stage of the buying journey.
This means brands need to identify and fix gaps in the buying journey that could negatively affect a customer’s experience – and damage brand loyalty. Long-term, this will be crucial to boosting repeat sales, especially for fickler customers in the younger age segments.
The good news? There are systems that can help brands make the buying journey as smooth and effortless as possible. Key to this is an automated back-office platform that adds speed and efficiency into the retail operation and allows for enhanced customer service at every touchpoint. Brands should also use systems that record customer and product data from one single hub, in real time. These insights can identify pain points and guide the changes that will help them to create more tailored and seamless experiences that are in-line with the expectations of younger shoppers.
Brands should also look to focus on the gaps that most frustrate Millennials, such as issues related to deliveries and returns. This is the area where things are really going wrong, and this ‘last impression’ can do the most damage to a customer’s brand perception.
However, it’s worth noting that 10% of Millennial shoppers are willing to pay more for products and services – if they’re guaranteed a seamless transaction. So, brands that do get the end-to-end experience right may benefit not only from increased sales and loyalty – but also from increased wallet capture.
Finally, and to paraphrase Mark Larson OF KPMG, Baby Boomers are now appreciating the experience and convenience of buying online, so, to a degree, there is a little Millennial in each of us. By focusing on superior experiences now, brands can meet the pressing needs of their most demanding customers (Millennials) but get ahead of the growing expectations of older demographics – meaning they can keep all shoppers coming back to them time and again.
Millennials have been dubbed the most ‘impatient generation’ in the workplace, with over 90 percent wanting ‘rapid career progression’.
Almost 70 percent of employers believe that this level of ambition and desire is the leading cause of conflict between generations – with a third of Generation X (34 percent) and a quarter of Baby Boomers (24 percent) and Millennials (24 percent) agreeing with this.
The findings come from a Robert Walters whitepaper, which surveyed over 2,000 respondents to find out what it takes to retain millennial professionals.
Chirs Hickey, UK CEO at Robert Walters, said: “According to our survey, almost 60 percent of workers have experienced intergenerational conflict in the workplace. As Millennials make up a growing part of the workforce, finding a way for members of different generations to work together effectively is an increasingly high priority.
“Making sure that managers understand what motivates workers from different generations, how they like to communicate, and identifying common sources of conflict is essential to creating a strong team of varied generations and diversity of opinions.”
Sources of inter-generational conflict in the workplace
According to the Robert Walters report, three quarters of professionals (73 percent) have left a job because of poor company culture. Over half of Millennials reported that poor company culture was a source of disappointment in a new job, with 90 percent claiming that they research the culture in advance of taking an opportunity.
Whilst a third of Millennials felt that meeting their colleagues in a social setting was important, this contrasts with just 15 percent of Generation X and less than one percent of Boomers who value social outings with colleagues.
Millennials widely perceive technology to be at the root of workplace conflicts. Thirty-four percent reported that older workers not understanding new technology was the chief cause of these conflicts, followed by younger workers becoming frustrated at using outdated technology (33 percent).
Millennial professionals are also distinct from their older colleagues in their attitudes towards social media. Almost 40 percent of Millennials felt that employers should actively encourage workers to incorporate social media into their work, compared to less than a quarter (24 percent) of Generation X and just 10 percent of Baby Boomers.
3. Tailored approach
Employers and employees from Generation X and Baby Boomers believe that Millennials are far more pampered than was ever the norm in the workplace – with their demands for time and a tailored approach way out of line with general expectations.
Whilst only 15 percent of employers believe personalised training programs to be necessary, over a third of Millennials rank this as one of the most important factors in retention. In fact, 53 percent of millennials have been disappointed by the lack of a properly implemented personal development plan or training program when starting a new job.
The demand of senior managements time is further exasperated by an overwhelming 91 percent of Millennials who would like to receive formal feedback at least every six months, with 60 percent stating that they would like this as often as every one to three months.
Given that Millennials have the most formal education of any generation in history, being likely to hold at least a bachelors degree already, the chance to earn qualifications on the job is their lowest priority – unlike fellow colleagues from older generations.
When asked what they believed employers value most in potential workers, 59 percent of Millennials gave personality fit with the team or company culture as a top priority. In contrast, 53 percent of employers felt that hard technical skills were highly important in potential employees.
5. International aspirations
Over half (52 percent) of Millennials said that the opportunity to develop their career abroad was important to them, compared to less than a third (31 percent) of Generation X and 15 percent of Boomers.
Chris states: “One of the side effects of growing up in the digital age is that Millennials often see themselves as ‘citizens of the world’, having grown up in an environment where access to the internet means that geographical boundaries are far less important than they had been in the past.
What do Millennials expect from their employer?
A competitive salary was rated important by all generations, but particularly for ambitious Millennials where salary is largely seen as a reflection of their status and success. In fact, 96n percent of Millennials rated a competitive pay and bonus system as important, and 25 percent stated that this would be the number one reason they would change jobs.
Chris said: “It’s important to note that during the downturn, over half (53 percent) of Millennials took a job with a lower salary than expected. As such, employers should be mindful that this may be a contributing factor as to why salary and remuneration are so important to Millennials.
“It also means that as we move out of economic uncertainty they will expect their salaries to catch up to their expectations.”
Millennials want more than just a job – they want a career, with 69 percent citing a clear path for progression in the business as the most important factor in keeping them engaged.
Chris said: “It is perhaps unsurprising that for Millennials at the outset of their careers, a clear path to progression is the most effective motivator. However, this reflects not just the youth but also the ambition of this generation. Millennials have grown up being told they are capable of achieving anything and this confidence means that they crave responsibility early in their careers.”
In fact, 54 percent of Millennials state that having the opportunity to ‘exercise influence’ in the workplace is a key way to keep them engaged and remain with their current employer.
Millennials do not shy away from responsibility, and they want to know what needs to be done to earn it. Of all generations surveyed, Millennials placed the highest value on transparency over how they could achieve progress in their career.
Seventy-one percent of Millennials strongly agreed that their employer should provide clear guidelines over earning bonuses or promotions. However, 40 percent of employers do not currently do this.
During the recession many Millennials struggled to find jobs that met their expectations. Thirty-one percent reported that they had taken work in a sector that they did not wish to work in. Now, as the economic outlook improves, many are ready to change jobs to find a new role that better suits their ambitions.
Chris advises: “Employers looking to retain Millennial employees should consider giving them the option to move around the business to find a position that better suits their desired career path, particularly given that 70 percent of Millennials consider job rotation within the business one of the most important aspects of their job.”