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4 Questions to Ask When Appealing to Millennial Customers

April 10, 2017

Millennials may access customer service in new ways, but many of their priorities remain the same as previous generations.

Millennials may access customer service in new ways, but many of their priorities remain the same as previous generations.

Millennials are taking over the world—literally. As of April 2016, Millennials have edged out Baby Boomers as the largest generation in America. That means Millennials are a driving force behind modern evolutions in customer experience.

The largest, most diverse, most educated generation of Americans to date have incredible spending power. Their familiarity with and reliance on technology defines the Millennial experience and means major changes for businesses and brands looking to court their loyalty.

So how can you become a favorite among Millennial customers?

Millennials still want reliability, friendliness, responsiveness, and quality – they just want even more of it than previous generations were satisfied to have.

No generation before has seen such a rapid progression and diversification of technology. While older Millennials still remember the dial-up days, the younger set are coming of age in a time of ubiquitous and instant availability of favorite resources and channels. Millennials see technology as a lifestyle, not a toolbox.  

If you’re looking to strengthen your appeal to Millennials, your business should embrace a similar mindset. Your business already uses technology to communicate quickly and efficiently. The next step is to embrace the wide variety of apps, devices, and networks that make your brand easy to access and share. The following questions are a good way to gauge if your business is ready to attract Millennial consumers.

IS IT FAST?

Millennials know what they want, and they want it now. Influenced by their always-available, multi-tasking, multi-device lifestyles, their attention span is rather short. Millennials have little patience for clumsy user interfaces or apps that struggle to load. They don’t want to wait for answers! They make decisions quickly and will gravitate to businesses that help them accelerate their progress.

IS IT SOCIAL?

Millennials are always connected to the Internet and therefore, always connected to each other. Businesses quickly realized that the key to engaging Millennial markets is to connect via social media.

Millennials begrudgingly accept the presence of brands and businesses in their social networks, but they expect businesses to behave socially. Personal interactions with businesses make them feel heard and valued.

Rather than picking up a phone, Millennials favor direct Tweets, Yelp reviews, and Facebook posts to describe their experience with a business. An active social media presence demonstrates your business’ willingness to personally connect with customers and keeps your brand fresh in someone’s news feed. 

IS IT MEANINGFUL?

Millennials maintain a heightened awareness of social issues and causes. They’re not interested in money for the sake of money—they want their dollar to mean something when they spend it. Consequently, businesses that include an element of social justice in their work are more likely to successfully engage Millennials.

IS IT AUTONOMOUS?

Millennials are self-starters. They want to feel empowered by their business interactions. Many customer experience disruptions come from Millennials as they initiated their own startups to fill niches not served by the existing market. They’re not content to say: “This is the way things have always been done.” 

This generation saw the birth of “crowdsourcing and online reviews as a significant influencer on purchasing decisions. Conversely, Millennials also value the availability of self-service options, especially those that get them to their destination faster by cutting out the middleman. They’re not opposed to picking up the phone or having a face-to-face customer service interaction, but it’s usually not their first choice. In fact, they may snub a business that doesn’t give them enough opportunity to help themselves.  

Brands Millennials Love

Venmo and other P2P (person to person) payment apps are a recent example of the way Millennials prefer to handle their finances. Venmo provides a slick, no-hassle interface, connects users directly to social networks, and is completely autonomous. Venmo has also partnered with GiveDirectly to make it easier than ever for users to donate to their favorite charity. 

TOMS Shoes is another good example of a brand that successfully engages Millennial markets. Their “One for One” campaign elevated an ordinary purchase of new shoes to an act of goodwill. TOMS also has a strong social media presence. They encourage customers to share stories and make them feel like they’re a part of the TOMS mission to improve the lives of others. 

 

These new insights into Millennial habits in combination with your own Voice of the Customer research will create a customer experience tailored to Millennial demands. In Part Two of this series, we review the areas of the experience to prioritize and provide examples of specific actions to take and offerings to consider when engaging this desirable demographic.

8 Do’s and Don’ts for Engaging with Customers on Social Media

August 2, 2016

Customer service via social media has been a growing trend as more and more businesses realize the power of these platforms. But conducting yourself as a business on social media is far from self-explanatory. Here, we review eight tips for engaging with your customers on social media. 

If you’re a business with a social media presence, you want and expect customers to engage with you online. Nearly three-fourths of the U.S. population had a social media profile in 2015, and that number is expected to grow. Figures like that are telling; social media presents a significant opportunity for interacting with your customers. You can gain meaningful information when they react to what you publish. But, whether you intended it or not, customers also often treat social media profiles as alternative customer service channels.

The twist is, unlike phone calls or visits to your location, customer service interactions on social media can be very public — all eyes are watching. And because certain industries like finance are highly regulated, addressing these comments publicly can be challenging.

Following these do’s and don’ts for using social media to resolve customer inquiries will help you provide excellent social care while building a stronger commitment to your brand.

Infographic Engaging with Customers on Social Media

DO Employ These Strategies When Using Social Media to Resolve Customer Inquiries
  • Do go where your customers are on social media. For many organizations, the heaviest hitters are Facebook and Twitter. But sites like Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn rank higher for certain industries. Make sure you’re concentrating your efforts on the right channel so your engagements are mutually beneficial for you and your customer.
  • Do have a social media policy and ensure the right employees are trained on it. Your policy should outline how your organization will interact over social media, and what employees can and cannot post. Ensure your legal or compliance department weighs in so the policy meets the necessary industry regulations.
  • Do regularly review engagement analytics. Pay close attention to how people respond to your content via comments, shares, and video watch time. Study what’s working well, and what’s not. Understand the issues being raised and use that information to help you identify priorities, plan staffing accordingly, and arrange appropriate resources.
  • Do maintain the same high standards of customer care on social media that you do on other customer service channels. Respond quickly (studies show many social media users expect a response the same day) and clearly. Avoid ambiguous answers. Once a problem is resolved, thank the customer for reaching out.
DON’T Run Into These Social Media Customer Service Pitfalls
  • Don’t run afoul of regulations. Certain industries like banking, where customer accounts contain highly sensitive information, have strict rules for how they communicate with customers online and how information is transmitted when operating digitally.
  • Don’t neglect comments. This leads to high rates of user dissatisfaction. A study by Conversocial showed that 88% of respondents would be less likely to buy from a brand whose social media site contained unanswered customer complaints.
  • Don’t be inconsistent. Ensure your customer addressing you online receives the same resolution for the same question as the customer calling over the phone.
  • Don’t let issues linger too long. If a posted comment leads to a lot of back-and-forth or requires that personal data be shared, take it offline onto another channel, whether that be direct message, live chat, email, or a phone call. The ultimate goal for both you and the customer is a resolution.

Managing social media customer inquiries successfully requires teamwork across a number of disciplines, including marketing, compliance, IT, and customer service. According to Bain & Company, “customers who engage with companies over social media spend 20% to 40% more money with those companies than other customers.” When you consider those figures, it pays to create a cohesive plan for managing your social media comments.


RELATED: How Loyal Are Your Customers?

Customers who engage with companies over social media, reports Bain & Company, “demonstrate a deeper emotional commitment to the companies, granting them an average 33 points higher Net Promoter Score℠, a common measure of customer loyalty.” Read 4 Things a Net Promoter Score Can Do for Your Business.

What Baby Boomer & Millennial Banking Customers Have in Common

July 30, 2015

Though born decades apart and into very different circumstances, Baby Boomer (born 1946-1964) and Millennial (born 1980-2000) customers show a surprising amount of overlap in their preferences and priorities for the customer experience at their banks.

Baby Boomers are Aging Youthfully

baby-boomer-motorcycle-442244_640

Baby Boomers came of age during the wild 1960s and 70s, and while they might not be able to rock’n’roll all night and party every day anymore, they’re not ready to resign to their rocking chairs just yet.

Here you can begin to see some of the commonalities between Boomers and Millennials. Both generations entered adulthood against the backdrop of oversea war, economic depression, and social unrest. The 2008 recession hit their wallets hard: Boomers watched their retirement funds wither, and Millennials worry if they’ll earn enough to pay off their immense student loans. To varying degrees, both groups know the value of doing more with less and balancing their desire to make purchases against the risks of running out.

It’s Not Just About Retirement

Sure, retirement is a pressing issue for Boomers exiting the workforce and preparing for a new phase of life, but it’s not the only thing they’re doing with their money.

Despite the setbacks of the recession, Baby Boomers earn about 47% of all income in the United States, totaling $4 trillion. [Source] With their adult children leaving home and establishing their own families, instead of settling in, Boomers are active and adventurous. They want to be able to keep up with their grandkids and are using their spending power to catch up with all the dreams they may have put off during their parenting years.

That might mean new car purchases, home renovations or relocations, or even starting a business – all things they’ll be looking to their banks to help them finance and navigate. These products aren’t just the territory of young adults getting established.

As we’ve reported previously, Millennials, too, are entrepreneurial adventurers who tend to value experiences over material goods. So while they may be renting a while longer before they purchase a house and putting off traditional milestones like marriage and child-rearing, they see that as freeing up capital to pursue their dreams while they still have youth on their side.

They’ve also absorbed their parents’ concerns about funding their retirements and, according to the Transamerica Retirement Survey, 74% of Millennials have begun saving for retirement a full 13 years earlier in life than Baby Boomers.

This knowledge should lead banks to carefully consider how and to whom they are promoting their small business, retirement, and home equity products and services.

Linked In with Technology

A major slice of shared territory between these two generations can be found online, and in particular, on mobile.

Millennials and Boomers alike are early adopters of new tech products and are comfortable navigating the world through the lens of their smartphone or tablet. 71% of Boomers bank online at least once per week, and their use of mobile is expected grow exponentially over the next few years.

So by prioritizing a streamlined, personalized, and mobile-optimized experience, banks can satisfy both sets of customers.

Where they differ, though, is in their concern about the security of their financial information. Millennials, who have largely grown up with tech, tend to be more trusting; Boomers are willing to adapt and learn, but remain suspicious about the trustworthiness of devices, networks, and data banks.

61% of Boomers believe the risk of their financial data being compromised will rise within the next three years, compared to 45% of Millennials. [Source] Adults who are not already using online banking options are even more suspicious and unlikely to be converted, no matter how slick the user experience. Nothing will send customers of any age on the hunt for a new bank like finding that their personal information is at risk, for which they unforgivingly hold the institution responsible.

With data breaches making headlines on a regular basis, banks who want to promote their online and mobile services must communicate a strong message of security, not just convenience.

Want to know more about the demands of different demographics within your target market? CSP can deliver all the intelligence you need and offer solutions to meet your specific goals. Contact us today with your questions and concerns.

4 Ways to Engage the Millennial Banking Customer

June 17, 2015

millennial customer engagement

Millennials want businesses to meet them where they are, and that includes their financial institutions. So how does a bank go about satisfying this demanding demographic?

In Part One of this series, we got into Millennials’ heads to see the world through their own lenses. Knowing what they value and prioritize can help you shape the customer experience to meet their ever-evolving expectations.

Appeal to their impatience.

Speed of service, whether online or human-to-human, is a must.

If a customer needs to get in touch with you to ask a question or resolve a problem, he’d rather open up a web chat or send a Tweet than be put on hold with a call center or wait for a response from the Contact Us form on your website. And if he does Tweet you a question, he expects you to answer it as promptly as he expects a friend to reply to his text.

He doesn’t want to be beholden to “business hours,” either – in his world, answers are always a click away, day or night. If 24/7 customer service is not something you can promise, at the very least, he should have the option to find his own answers through the resources you make available to him online, like FAQ pages, blogs and articles, or forums.

He’ll also appreciate a degree of automation to processes that would otherwise be tedious or require multiple steps and the intervention of a human employee. Take, for instance, mobile check deposit, or peer-to-peer payment, two innovations that streamline simple financial interactions into a matter of clicks, no middleman required.

Give them control.

Automation and self-service aren’t just about getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible; they allow customers to self-determine their customer journey and customize it to meet their own unique needs, rather than be lumped in with the generalized population of your customer base.

Personalization is important to this highly individualistic customer. Jane Q. Millennial doesn’t just want the Fifth Third experience, she wants Jane’s Fifth Third experience. Each channel she uses, digital or human, should greet her by name and anticipate her needs before she even has to state them.

Millennials personify the omnichannel customer experience. Take advantage of the Voice of the Customer insights and transactional data you’ve collected on them to craft personalized and intuitive experiences.

Participate, and invite participation.

Tap into the Millennial customer’s social side by engaging with him, not just broadcasting to him. We won’t claim that it’s easy, but you’ll have to reconcile traditional customer service language and behavior with his native tongue. Show personality in your communications, demonstrate social values that align with his own, and he’ll find you more approachable than the out-of-the box Customer Service Rep™.

Give him opportunities to engage with you beyond the standard problem/solution model of service. Social media is an excellent platform for conducting (completely non-scientific) surveys or hosting contests. You can blend information and entertainment with things like “Did You Know?” trivia or “Caption This” contests for funny images. The prize might be as simple as public recognition of the winner’s cleverness, but that’s still more than he was likely expecting to get when he logged on today.

Be their entrepreneurial ally.

In the past, banks might have targeted the 18 to 35 demographic with messaging around financing their homes, cars, and children’s college educations. But Millennials are famously delaying typical young-adult milestones like marriage and home ownership in favor of pursuing their dreams, creating the perfect opportunity for financial institutions to step in as allies, coaches, and incubators. Make them aware of both consumer and business products.

Consider hosting workshops for start-ups or the self-employed; offering sponsorships, grant opportunities, or other competitive rewards; or coaching them on career advancement or salary negotiation via your blog (you are blogging, right?). Seek out the places in your community where these young entrepreneurs are gathering, like TED Talks, networking groups, and even street fairs, and make sure you have a visible presence there. Think about it: how cool could it be to have a reputation as THE bank that young self-starters turn to?

While we’re on the topic of business products, consider this: Even if your business customers aren’t run by Millennials, they’re certainly employing them. The person responsible for managing banking interactions at any given business, start-up or established, might be a 28-year-old man or woman, who expects your B2B experience to be as modern, flexible, and streamlined as your consumer-facing experience.

 

So, how does your customer experience measure up against the Millennial mindset? By this point of reading, you’re either patting yourself on the back for a job well done, or you have new insights into potential areas of improvement and innovation.

CSP is passionate about improving the customer experience for customers of all ages. Read about our solutions and services, and contact us when you’re ready to take the next step.

5 Reasons Why Banks Should Blog

April 22, 2015

It seems like everybody and his brother has a blog these days, including businesses. Some industries are more suited to blogging than others, and financial services is one of those industries. Some banks are already on this bandwagon, but for those who still need some persuading, let us tell you about some of the benefits you might be missing out on.

5 reasons why banks should blog

  1. You have experts in-house. Use them.

    Finances, whether personal or business, are hardly self-explanatory. Put your staff’s specialized knowledge and years of experience to work by asking them to contribute content on their particular area of expertise. From basic how-to’s and definitions to explanations of more complicated concepts, your team can contribute directly to your customers’ financial literacy.

  2. Reinforce your value to your customers.

    Every little thing you do to go above and beyond standard service wins you points with your customers. Publishing a blog transforms your bank from a vendor to a valuable resource. It shows your customers you care about their financial well-being, not just your own bottom line. It also gives them a venue to ask you questions – just be careful not to leave those questions sitting unanswered in the comments section.

  3. social media iconsKeep your social media pipeline full.

    It’s not enough to simply have a social media presence; if you expect your customers to subscribe and stay engaged with you on that channel, you want to feed them a steady stream of fresh, original, valuable content. Blog posts can be used and re-used to keep that pipeline full and balance out any promotional messaging you’re sending out.

  4. Improve your search engine ranking and site traffic.

    It used to be the case that the only reason any brand started a blog was to stuff it with keywords and attract traffic from search engines. While SEO has evolved beyond keywords since then, Google and other search powerhouses are biased towards websites that are loaded with quality content. Your site is more likely to show up in the results for a search on “home mortgage refinancing” if you’ve published several articles on the topic.

  5. Cross-promote your products and services.

    Never miss an opportunity to cross-sell. As you’re writing about any given topic, inline links can point your customers to other pages on your site without distracting from the matter at hand. Online users are used to this kind of linking in news articles, Wikipedia pages, and Tweets, and because it comes across as intuitively relevant, they find it harder to ignore than an intrusive display ad or obvious sales message.

Data-Driven Content Planning

Data isn’t just for setting goals and measuring progress. You can learn a lot about what your customers value and need from both your transactional and Voice of the Customer data. That knowledge feeds directly into your brainstorming if you get it out of the ‘data silo’ trap and integrate it into your content strategy.

faces and dataWhat products are your customers using most, and what more could they stand to learn about them? Which ones could use some more time in the spotlight, to increase awareness? What are some frequently asked questions about your branch, your bank, or finances in general?  What areas of expertise do you want your institution to be known for? All of these questions are great starting points for a brainstorming session.

Of course, your blog can also be a suitable venue for company news, press releases, and letters from the president, but in terms of value to the customer, informative and entertaining content carries the most weight, and is the most likely to be forwarded and shared.

Getting Started Blogging

The two essential ingredients to successful blogging: a plan, and people ready to stick to it.

editorial calendar deadlineA blog need not be complicated, and you don’t have to go from 0 to 60 posts a month (!) immediately. But blogs don’t just happen on their own without some planning – topic brainstorming and research, an editorial calendar, and possible production of other multimedia (like infographics or videos).

You also need staff who have both the time and the talent to follow through, both on the production side and the publication & promotion side. If you find yourself short-handed in that department, you could hire freelancers or content-specialized agencies, but remember that no one knows your customers or your business quite like the people who are there every day. (See point No. 1 above.)

Bottom line: Blogging contributes to a well-rounded, holistic customer experience. It positions you as a thought leader, differentiates you from your competitors, and provides additional opportunities for customer engagement. This makes it a natural fit for a bank’s digital strategy.

Customer Expectations Drive Trends in Online Service & Support

April 8, 2015

These days, many of the touchpoints between customers and businesses happen not in person, not on the phone, but in the cloud. Never have customers had so many choices, nor businesses so many options, for communication and service.

Companies have had to step up their investment in digital customer service solutions to meet consumer demand for these choices. Here are some of the ways businesses have ventured into virtual customer service:

Support Via Web Chat

web chat customer service supportCompanies including Verizon, Home Depot, IKEA, and Bank of America have implemented chat support into their own websites and mobile apps.

In some cases, these chat lines are manned by an artificial intelligence. IKEA’s “Ask Anna” service is automated. On screen, Anna is represented by the image of a headset-wearing woman who even blinks and moves as she patiently awaits a question. The program looks for keywords and phrases in that question to deliver a prewritten response. In some ways, it’s like a slightly more interactive search engine.

Most online chat services are “live,” connecting customers to a human rep much the same way they would if they called the customer service line by phone. Customers might favor this option if they are not in a position to make a phone call or don’t want to sit and listen to menu options and hold music.

They also might need help navigating the company’s site, which is easier when a rep can just send a link to the desired page instead of directing over the phone, “Look in the upper left of your screen, select from that drop-down menu – no, the other one, below that – now log in with your password…”

Social Customer Service

Offsite, a social-savvy customer might still skip calling your 1-800 number in favor of a mention on Twitter or a direct message to your Page on Facebook. Whether or not chat support is something your company is interested in providing, these customers expect a response. The same is true of comment boxes on blogs, articles, or products.

Some companies set up separate Twitter handles just for fielding customer support, like @ExpressHelp for fashion retailer Express, or @AskADT for home security provider ADT. While there’s no guarantee that all requests will go to the appropriate channel, this tactic can keep customer complaints and issues out of the public eye by deviating them from the main account and its larger audience.

Virtual Assistance

Chat and social channels are ideal for short, simple requests. For more complex or personalized needs, virtual customer service is the next level up.

Frontier Bank in Sioux Falls, South Dakota has introduced a virtual teller to their branch, eliminating the traditional teller line and the idea of “banker’s hours.” Customers talk to a remote teller via webcam, who can handle withdrawals and deposits, while other staff are freed up for the more involved tasks of banking.

A virtual stylist will meet you via webcam and talk to you for an hour about your pressing wardrobe questions, like how to dress for an interview out of what’s already in your closet. “E-Doctors” offered by both healthcare providers and insurers can help a patient get non-emergency medical attention without needing to make an appointment, take time off work, or leave the house.

As technology like Facetime and Skype has become common and accepted among consumers, they’ve warmed to the idea of some customer service also happening by video. It’s the 21st century, after all – we may not have hoverboards, but videophone is one dream of the future that we have made real.

 

The right mix of digital customer service solutions will be unique to each business. Introducing new things like virtual tellers or an automated chat line shouldn’t just be done for its own sake and not based on customer demand. Feedback from a Voice of the Customer program can give you key insights into the channels that are driving customer satisfaction, and those that might be turning them away.

For more information about CSP’s customer experience strategies and the programs we build to support them, contact us today by phone at (402) 399-8790 ext:101, via our website, or on Twitter @csprofiles

Beware the Ripple Effect of a Single Bad Customer Experience

July 21, 2014

This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance.

It’s a familiar sentence to anyone who has had to call a customer service line for support. But one Comcast customer recently turned the tables on the cable provider, and recorded a maddening conversation with a customer service representative that quickly went viral.

Ryan Block’s objective was to cancel and disconnect his service with Comcast. According to him, after his wife had already spent ten minutes on the phone going around in circles with the representative, he took over and began recording the call himself. He then uploaded the recording to the audio streaming site SoundCloud, where it gathered enough momentum to catch media attention.

You can listen to the call yourself here.

In these eight minutes, Mr. Block puts forth his request to cancel in a variety of creative, straightforward and polite ways, only to be blocked or derailed by the increasingly agitated rep at every turn.

Obviously, part of the rep’s responsibility to Comcast is to limit cancellations and retain customers, and he may have been incentivized with compensation for doing so. But his aggressive manner and obstructive methods indicate a corporate culture in which the voice of the customer falls on deaf ears.

On their own behalf, Comcast issued a statement saying, “We are very embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block […] While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.”

But as the story gathered steam, it also gathered comments from thousands of other Comcast customers (and former customers) as well as customers of other cable giants like Time Warner, with whom Comcast is set to merge, pending FCC approval.

Many shared their own horror stories of similar experiences with service reps, while others lamented that due to lack of consumer choice among cable providers, Comcast and its peers have little incentive to improve the customer experience, in spite of any promise to emphasize respect.

If there’s a lesson in this for other businesses, it’s that the voice of just one customer can have enormous reach when amplified by the megaphone of the internet. No business is immune to that threat, but the damage is completely preventable when the company culture is aligned with the objective of providing an excellent customer experience, down to the last representative.