Foreword Online

Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers

How to Serve and Keep Millennial Customers

Posted by admin on 8/6/13 11:00 PM
Topics: college store customer service, college retail, millennials

The following excerpt, from the article 7 ways to keep, and serve, Millennial customers, was written by author Micah Solomon and published on Below, we've selected four of Solomon's points that we think college stores could easily adopt. Read his full article for even more suggestions on how to better reach your target audience!

Within the next few years, Millennial customers (born after 1980) will hit service providers with a wallet force larger than that of the baby boom. And these young customers, also known as Gen Y, bring to the market an entirely new set of expectations.

This is a disaster hurrying to happen.

This new generation thinks differently about customer service, about how they want to be treated in business interactions. It is a generation of consumers defined by the digital world that they've known since infancy. A group of people, larger by far than the baby boom at its height, who have lived their entire commercial lives immersed in an Internet, Wi-Fi, smartphone-enabled world and have little understanding of the more earthbound systems and expectations that dominated the consumer landscape only a few years ago.

The particulars of how customer service has been delivered for the last several decades are extremely baby boom specific. It's time for businesses to change, and change fast.

Here's how to get started:

  • Become a speed freak

Millennials are superb multi-taskers who put a premium value on convenience. Millennials' internal time clocks and customer expectations are shaped by the instant gratification they've grown accustomed to from the online/smartphone experience. Speed and efficiency are of the utmost importance: in how quickly you respond to a customer, ship to a customer, and offer up choices of product or service to a customer.

Emulate here: You'd better have a real-time indication of what is and isn't in stock; ship immediately, and, perhaps most of all, have a no-hassle return policy.

  • Leave your customers time and space to breathe

Nobody gets this one more right than Starbucks. The Millennial generation wants their custom-brewed coffee fast (in less than 7 minutes according to Starbucks' "Cliff of Dissatisfaction" metric) but they also want the world to linger with them over coffee. In spite of their penchant for mobile and online socializing, the Millennial generation also yearns for face to face interaction and collaboration — from their peers and, often, from your more empathetic employees.

  • Consider values

Millennials engage in what can be termed values-based buying. When Millennials do business with a company, they're more likely than previous generations to care about the social values of that company: its social responsibility, green profile, and how ethically it does, or doesn't, treat its own employees and those of its suppliers. They will reward your company if its behavior mirrors their own ethics, and punish your company if it doesn't.

  • Speak their language

This is what I call the "'no worries' divide." The new generation is exceedingly informal, and has different words, and methods, of communicating. Jay Coldren from Marriott again: "The Millennials want to converse in their own language, according to their own rules. They speak in tweets, texts and Facebook posts. If you want to reach them, you have to speak in their native tongue. And you have to be completely authentic." When in doubt, follow this Millennial rule: Authentic, caring communication is in; scripted service is out.

The Millennial world can bring its wallet power to you, or to someone else. It all depends on how you serve them.

Related articles on Foreword Online

Article comments