Millennials are the first generation that have always been connected to technology and the internet – they are “always on.” With access to multiple Web-enabled devices, both at home and on the go, they are the power users of the Internet. We are on the cusp of a Digital disruption as we find ourselves between three great equalizers, Technology, Mobility and access to the Internet. This disruption calls for a fresh approach to providing customer service that embraces these three equalizers.

Who are these millennials and why do they matter?

Millennials a driving force as consumers
Millennials were born between 1980 and 2000, they make up 25% of the US population, are 36% of the US workforce, and have a trillion dollars in buying power.

Millennials online habits are different
Millennials are 2.5x more likely to be early adopters of technology and almost 50% of them have more than 200 Facebook friends. They love creating content and almost 50% of Millennials have self-created videos and photos online. Millennials constantly seek peer affirmation on buying and product decisions. They also influence older generations, a great example is how we seek products on Amazon – we read reviews and look for 4 stars and above before making a buying decision, this is learned behavior from millennials. They would like to co-create products with a brand and participate in the direction of the products.

Millennials and Brands
They feel a strong need to share both negative and positive feedback on product experiences, they actively seek out brands that participate in social media, and expect brands to participate in social media. Millennials actively support brands that support a cause, Tom’s shoes and Patagonia are great examples of this. Almost 50% percent continue to purchase the brands they grew up with, but almost 60% are willing to switch brands in exchange for a cents-off coupon.

So, what does this all mean? Organizations need a fresh approach to providing support to their products. The emergence of support communities that have been deployed by companies that are in the forefront of this digital transformation have transformed how they do business and interact with their customers.

So what behaviors are we seeing in our years of experience with deploying support communities?

  1. Search – Millennials search for the answers first – so your support documentation, media and relevant information has to be publicly facing.  Coveo is an example of an organization that understands the importance of Intelligent Search.
  2. Engage – Millennials engage their peers, often on forums that the organization owns. These are key here, you have the ability to control the messaging and get to participate in the discussion.
  3. Chat – they will engage in live chat if that is available
  4. Email – Will use e-mail only as a last resort
  5. Phone Call – Will rarely use a phone for support
  6. Support provided by subject matter experts (that are also customers) dramatically reduces the cost of supporting your products and are highly valued by millennials
  7. Ideation forums are key to creating loyal customers who have a say in the product direction

If you look closely at organizations today, it is clear which ones understand and have embraced these changes and which ones refuse to change and are fading away. Millennials are here to stay and are influencing other generations. The time for effective online communities is now.

TLDR; SUMMARY

  • Intrinsic and extrinsic motivators should be implemented to push the community to a level of engagement where customers are actively helping others with service issues.
  • An online community does not exist only on one forum or social platform. Customers will traverse these different sources of information as they discover products and services. Therefore, consistency in business communication is critical
  • Communities need to provide pro-active advice – This differentiates your brand
  • Multiple interaction methods  – Voice interaction and touch interaction will become table stakes
  • Communities need to be nurturing – a safe place to return to along the Customer Journey
  • Understanding the Customer Journey is crucial – multiple data points form disparate interactions result in delivering the right content at the right time – Content will become intelligent and personalized