The Average Internet User Has Changed
The face of the average internet user is changing every day, with more millennials - most of whom are “digital natives,” or people that grew up using and understanding digital technology - online than practically any other demographic. Think about it: when the internet first exploded, its users were learning how to use it for the very first time. It was a completely new way of operating and, essentially, a new language for everyone involved.
Now, however, a growing number of online users have spent their entire lives using the internet and receiving digital care and customer support. These “digital native” users have completely different standards and expectations. They want immediate, exceptional, personalized service experiences, and “when they don’t receive it, substantial numbers defect, often after just one bad customer experience.”
That should be a huge call-to-action for all online businesses and websites. The message? Catch up or get out of the way. With customer expectations being so high, there is simply no room for error or falling behind the times. On top of that, there are many digital native companies - companies that are up-to-date with millennials’ expectations and the most cutting-edge best practices - that are already meeting these customer expectations and setting the bar with scalable, fast and easy-to-use technology. In short, what you did last year (or last decade) just won’t work next year - and if you wait to make the switches that are necessary to meet millennial expectations, you’ll lose big business.
Understanding the Millennial: Who They Are and Why They Matter
Today, millennials have an amazing presence and a huge amount of buying power and influence, representing approximately 25% of the American population and possessing approximately $200 billion in annual buying power. What’s more, it’s estimated that, by 2017, Baby Boomers will no longer be the generation with the most buying power and millennials will take over. In short, this generation is in its prime and rapidly changing the new model, which means that companies that want long-term success must have a firm understanding of this demographic’s online behavior and expectations.
What These “Digital Native” Millennials Expect
First thing’s first: this demographic wants their online experience to be aesthetically pleasing, responsive, intuitive and fast. This generation never had a dial-up modem. They don’t even think about what Apple was like before there was the iPod. That means that they are used to experiencing the latest and greatest. As a result, they have much higher expectations when it comes to new technologies and websites than previous generations had - which means that your old-school site is not getting any sympathy or patience from this crowd. Let’s look at some specifics:
- This generation has, “grown up with digital devices that bundle communication, entertainment, shopping, mapping and education all in one,” meaning that responsive, multi-device features aren’t cool to them, they’re the norm.
- Up to 87% of millennials use between two and three tech devices at least once on a daily basis, meaning that full optimization and mobile-responsiveness is an absolute must for them.
- These millennials are used to “Googling things” themselves and utilizing self-service technologies. In fact, a full 84% of millennials have used a self-service portal for customer care. This means that, to them, self-service is the norm and having to deal with a human representative can often be off-putting, inaccurate or annoying.
- When it comes to the world of customer service and customer experience, a whopping 68% of millennial consumers have higher expectations for customer service today than they had just one year ago. And when they do talk to a representative, you better believe they want a personalized experience with someone knowledgeable and quick to respond.
- 72% of customers want companies to value their time, which means they don’t want the customer service experience to be dragged out by waiting for a response to their email inquiry or waiting on hold. Instead, they want to be empowered to help themselves and they want this experience to be instant.
- According to Forrester, self-service is on the rise across all channels. For example, for US online adults, online forum/community use jumped from 31% in 2012 to 56% in 2015.
- On the flip side, phone/voice are considered to be the most frustrating customer service channel, and many millennials will bounce if they have to deal with it.
In short, millennials understand and accept new technology without batting an eyelash, and they expect to interact with companies that have interesting, intuitive, easy-to-use apps and websites.
The Rise of the Digital-Native Company
Digital-native companies already exist aplenty, and they are expertly using all of the tools and tech that are necessary to attract and keep the millennial customer. Specifically, these companies utilize tools like:
- Smart self-service solutions and advanced digital care technology like web chat, social media, email and chatbots
- Social media integrations, influencers and email campaigns
- Fully integrated sites, with blog links, social media pages and more available from the homepage
- Streamlined, fully responsive backends
In addition, they have important UX and customer experience features like:
- Intuitive design
- Mobile optimized design
- Smart/predictive technology
- Instant response times
The biggest examples? Millennial favorites like Facebook and BuzzFeed, both of which have all of the above features and constantly update their sites to fit the ever-evolving expectations of their consumers.
In the big picture, these companies understand that millennials are using lots of platforms, that they expect their tech to work and, most importantly, that they want to research and do things themselves - no hiccups, no UX issues and no customer service setbacks. Companies that expect future success must take this into account and change their customer service models accordingly, putting self-service options first and eliminating things like unresponsive design, difficult-to-navigate static FAQ pages and excessive dependency on assisted service.
Changes You Should Make Today
Now that you understand millennials’ expectations and how some companies are responding, you might be asking, How do I catch up and ensure that I’m ready to be a part of this millennial-run world?
One of the biggest places where websites and mobile apps are falling behind and losing customers is with customer support and the customer experience. Why?
Well, for starters, many websites still list their phone number at the top of their homepage and invite their users to call or email if they need help. With 84% of millennials being used to self-service and 72% of them saying that the most important thing is for companies to value their time, this may not be the best way to go. Similarly, even some of the most cutting-edge websites out there are still using traditional knowledge bases, static FAQ pages and “help islands” to house the content and information that their customers are looking for - and their users just aren’t having it. In fact, these pages have less than a 1% engagement rate, and this number is sure to drop as more millennials take over the online space. That means that all of this content is going to waste and that the user is simply not getting the customer experience that they want.
If you’re still in old school mode, you can start by fixing the small things and monitoring your metrics to see how your consumer is responding. Here are some good places to start:
- Don’t force your customers to call or email you for help
- Find the right level of assisted service interaction
- Optimize your site for user experience on web and mobile
- Add predictive self-service to optimize your customer help experience
- Open up a Facebook Messenger support channel and add a chatbot for instant response time
Ultimately, if you don’t have a digital native strategy, you are already behind. With this demographic estimated to spend over $200 billion in 2017, it’s clear that the online world of tomorrow will be all millennials. The good news? If you can meet their ultra-high expectations, you can certainly please the rest of your audience and ensure that your site is ready to support - and impress - the largest consumer demographics out there.
Let AnswerDash Help You Connect With Millennials
AnswerDash predictive self-service support is proven to create a frictionless way for customers to help themselves on the web and in mobile Apps. Research has proven that old school, static FAQs and KBs cause site abandonment, drive up support calls and frustrate customers. With AnswerDash, your customers get smart self-service that is relevant and personalized right at the point of action, without having to leave the page or type to search. By improving the “Help UX,” AnswerDash customers are reducing customer friction and achieving a 30% - 50% reduction in support tickets and cost. What is good for your customers is great for your business. Learn more at www.answerdash.com.