Today’s consumers are ascribed to a culture that demands instant gratification. When consumers engage a brand for customer support, they expect immediate answers, and they want those answers through the contact channel of their choice. The future of customer service involves readily available support through text messaging, email, live chat and social media, in addition to phone support, but the millennial generation requires one more thing: exceptional service.
A corporation’s ability to provide that exceptional service will make or break the brand for millennial generation customers, and data corroborates this claim. According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company, 70% of buying decisions are based on how the customer believes they are being treated by the brand. That’s a staggering statistic, and it tells us without doubt that sales and corporate profitability are contingent on a business’ ability to implement customer support processes that provide above-and-beyond service.
Above-and-beyond is the key phrase—the service you provide has to be exceptional. The typical service a person experiences during an interaction with a company’s customer service department will breed customer satisfaction, but truly exceptional service breeds customer loyalty.
In today’s increasingly competitive business environment where every customer counts, brands need to acquire that loyalty. Brands wanting to capture the hearts and minds of its millennial generation customers must swing the pendulum from good, satisfactory and predictable service to a type of service that is passionate, empathetic and fast.
Making the Connection
Exceptional service involves a connection between the brand and the consumer. Brands build this personal level of service through unique engagement styles.
The first step in doing so is to actively listen. Hear what your customers are communicating and understand what they are saying. On an individual, case-by-case basis, show them that you actually listened, heard and understood them—doing so will bridge a connection.
It’s important this connection is bridged during each interaction that occurs between your brand and customers (100% of the time, no exceptions). Whether it’s a new support request that is initiated through email, a customer service phone call or a live chat, listen to your customers and let them know they’re heard.
Half of the battle is enabling the customer to feel understood regardless of the topic of conversation. When consumers feel like they’ve been heard, it creates a connection that opens a pathway to a mutual relationship, building the foundation of brand loyalty.
Once you’ve listened, heard, and understood what your customers are saying, resolve the problem in its entirety to the best of your ability. It goes without saying, but the objective should always be an all-encompassing resolution to the customer’s problem that allows the customer to walk away from the interaction feeling satisfied. They were heard, their issue was resolved and customer satisfaction was developed.
Initiating the Personal Connection
Customer satisfaction is expected. All companies generally provide it, and the ones that don’t are no longer in business. Our suggestion is to take the service that creates customer satisfaction and make it exceptional, because exceptional service generates customer loyalty. In order to provide exceptional service that meets the high standards of the millennial generation, we need to incorporate sincerity and passion into every interaction.
Which brings us to our second step: be personable. There is an enormous difference between doing your job (meeting customer expectations) and doing it exceptionally well (exceeding those expectations). When you interact with your customers, be sure that each member of your customer care team is personally and genuinely looking out for your customers’ best interests—your customers will feel this type of sincerity.
Talk with your customers, not at them, and build a connection during every interaction. Be passionate about the services or products your company offers, speak with enthusiasm and a level of expertise and actually want to do all you can for each and every customer. If you ever have the opportunity to do anything additional on the customer’s behalf, do it!
Incorporate these principles into your internal training program, hire the right people and constantly reiterate the concept of truly listening, truly advocating for your customers’ best interests and doing so with a passion for the brand. Do this until it’s intertwined in your culture, and you’ll have a team in place that is prepared with a foundation to consistently build connections and provide exceptional service.
Exceptional service spurs brand loyalty, and this is hugely important because according to a study conducted by Edelman Digital, 70% of the millennial generation stays with brands they’re accustomed to.
Levesque is an eight-year Army veteran who founded Argo Marketing Group, a marketing logistics company based in Lewiston, Maine, in 2003. Its customer engagement center reaches consumers through social media, blogs, instant chat and text on behalf of clients who want to target millennial consumers.