Reaching Millennials Through Authentic Omnichannel Experiences

Reaching Millennials Through Authentic Omnichannel Experiences
Illustration by Stephanie Ross for Pipeline

As the first generation raised on the internet, millennials’ experience with technology has rewritten the playbook on how to create unique and exceptional customer experiences. They matured alongside web and mobile, so adaptation to new channels and communicating across these channels seamlessly is second nature—and they expect businesses to be equally adaptable and fluid.

As a result, contact centers need to understand three things that particularly resonate with millennials: convenience through fast, truly omnichannel experiences; quickly spotting and adapting when not delivering on new approaches; and delivery of an authentic, personalized approach through all channels and brand touch points.

Here a few things to know about creating authentic omnichannel experiences that appeal to millennials:

Getting Omnichannel Right

Many businesses are struggling to deliver authentic omnichannel experiences to their customers. In fact, the NICE inContact Customer Experience Transformation Benchmark Study showed that 37% of millennials were not satisfied with their most recent customer service experience. The problem is twofold. First, while businesses may excel in certain channels like agent-assisted calls and online chat individually, there isn’t seamless movement between said channels. Multichannel strategies—just offering a wide range of options to connect—isn’t enough. Millennial customers expect the convenience of multiple channel options and seamless, contextual transitions between those channels. Finding that sweet spot is crucial in winning over millennials, as clunky, disconnected experiences are among the major turn-offs to the demographic. According to the same study, 8 out of 10 millennials are likely to turn their backs on a company after just one poor customer experience.

The second piece of the puzzle is speed: The reason a truly unified omnichannel solution is important is because of its ability to reduce call times. Regardless of channel, the most important factor in a successful customer experience is the time it takes to resolve an issue. If a customer starts an interaction with online chat, businesses need to identify at what point another channel might result in a quicker resolution—proactively directing customers to the fastest resolution possible is an expectation cited by 87% of consumers.

Adapting the Customer Experience in Real-Time

Millennials are quick to adopt new channels, and they expect customer service interactions to mirror this. For example, while millennials continue to see value in traditional customer service options like online FAQ resources or agent-assisted phone calls, they also want to use digital channels like text messages or online chat. Only 26% of millennials said they prefer to call a company to speak to a live representative. Millennials have an appetite to use new channels interchangeably with more traditional ones.

To meet this demand, an increasing number of businesses are offering and promoting digital channels such as online chat. This is a good evolution, but businesses need to be able to offer seamless omnichannel experiences that allow agents to move with the customer in real-time. For example, elevating the conversation from online chat to phone or adding web co-browsing to a phone conversation. According to the CX Transformation Study, 72% of consumers expect to be able to continue talking with the same representative on the phone as they were talking with via online chat.

Contact centers need the flexibility to quickly integrate the channels that are delighting customers, otherwise they risk alienating key audiences. That said, ensuring a fully optimized customer experience also means taking action based on customer feedback and quickly adjusting practices. By relying on an open cloud customer experience platform, contact centers gain control to customize their experience and avoid stagnation. An open cloud platform offers the most flexibility to quickly integrate new channels such as chatbots or virtual assistants into contact centers, allowing businesses to keep pace with constantly evolving channel options and preferences.

Creating Authentic Customer Experiences

The best supplement to a strong omnichannel strategy are truly personalized and unique customer engagements. Creating an authentic customer experience can be make-or-break with millennials, 86% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they support. For contact centers, creating authentic customer experiences means ensuring that agents are not only trained to help customers, but also to be brand ambassadors. As the customer service face of the brand, agents need the right context and tools to cater to each individual interaction and create these authentic experiences. Leading contact centers are turning to modern quality management solutions, which proactively monitor and analyze interactions and offer coaching to help improve future interactions.

The more contact centers can arm their agents with the context of the customer journey (through tight CRM integration and interaction analytics) while enabling seamless handoffs from self-service to live agent assistance, the more they can demonstrate an understanding of the customer. There is an optimum balance to achieve in enabling self-service options, and seamlessly handing off that customer to a live agent when necessary. Powered by the right open cloud platform, contact centers can create new and enduring connections between brands and millennials.

Meeting (and Exceeding) Expectations

When it comes to customer experiences, millennials have high expectations, and they have no hesitation in abandoning brands who don’t meet or even exceed them. As customer experience continues to be a key differentiator in brand loyalty—especially for millennials—prioritizing delivery of authentic omnichannel experiences will be critical to attracting and maintaining this core demographic.