Engaging the Trending Generation
by Erica Bowers and Tom Larkin
"You are what you tweet.”— Anonymous
For most Millennials, this quote evokes a little chuckle that is followed by a quiet concession to the truth of this statement. It is no secret that the rise of technology has significantly defined the values, skills, and priorities of the Millennial generation. Understanding the characteristics of this generation is vital to effectively communicate with these new customers who account for more than one-third of the US population. Plus, transforming your company's processes, communications, as well as your associates' willingness to engage this new demographic, is a daunting but necessary task.
Accenture projects that Millennials’ spending by 2020 will grow to 30% of total retail sales. But most people don’t need to read every statistic to know that this emerging client base will demand a deeper understanding of who they are and how they want to be engaged.
Stay ahead of the game with these FOUR key insights:
1. Automate to Initiate
Millennials prefer the flexibility of online research and inquiry. You can take advantage of the rise in internet usage (via smart phones, tablets, personal computers etc.) by offering simple ways for online visitors to initiate a relationship. For example:
- Incorporate a text box for visitors to sign up for emails on the header on every page
- Provide a form that can be filled out to submit a question, or even offer online chatting.
These quick options will increase the percentage of millennials who respond to your online offerings, giving you the right information to make a MAGIC connection.
2. Inspire Your Hire
The great irony of the Millennial generation lies in our value of a personal connection. While we favor immediate and consistent online responses, repeat business and loyalty is developed through a personalized touch and memorable experience.
With “confident,” “achieving,” and “special” as descriptors of this generation, affirming these characteristics can help nurture the meaningful experience that Millennials thrive on. The best way to create these experiences is to foster a company environment that excites its representatives and inspires personal investment. I went to a casual restaurant a few months ago that experiments with somewhat obscure seasonal, local produce. As I was reading the menu for the first time, the waiter confidently and enthusiastically stood by to offer further assistance. He embraced every simple question I asked as an opportunity to explain more about the flavors, design, and even food origin.
Now, I’m no food critic, but my sandwich wasn’t anything to write home about. But I left that night excited about the company’s endeavors and intrigued about what would be on the menu next. The waiter’s excitement and personalized interactions with me created an experience that I both repeated and told others about.
- What does "engaging" communication look like in your organization?
- Work towards providing a visual or image of inspired work inside your company
3. Ethuse with Reviews
Once you create that valuable experience, encourage your customers to share that story. A staggering 50% of Millennials comkpare options and vet their purchases against other online opinions. With these percentages continuing to increase, consider publishing customer feedback online to authenticate your product and/or service and inspire confidence.
- Consider adding "Stories from Clients" as a web sidebar
- When you hear a great story, request permission to record an audio-quote or two to be added to the website
It may also be advantageous to host your own community page (like Apple Community), and offer a platform for your customers to ask questions and interact with each other. While these community pages may be less controllable, they generate a larger volume of valuable feedback. This gives you the opportunity to personally respond to both positive and negative comments.
In an earlier article, we reported that the feedback of one emotionally charged customer represents another 10-20 people who feel similarly, yet remain silent. So, your customized response to each comment is your platform to reach this silent majority and continue enhancing your reputation.
4. Captivate and Collaborate
With the rise of online testimonies and communities, it’s important to recognize that companies’ control of their public image and brand message is diminishing. Alex Castellarnae, CEO of Dropbox, said “a new brand, service, or product is only started by the company; it’s finished
by the customers.”
Welcome your Millennial customers as fellow-collaborators and embrace the opportunity to have an unlimited number of advocates. I once posted a “time-lapse” video of a table being built from start to finish and it ended up with more than four times the number of views as I had followers! The reach of the post grew exponentially, because I captivated the attention of the first few viewers.
- Create a company Facebook page and post engaging blogs, pictures and videos that cater to your audience
- Write "how-to's" that equip your customers with information that inspires them
Each time an individual interacts with your content, they become your advocate and your most valuable source of collaboration for continued success.
Give some of these practical tips a try this month. Take to heart Stephen Covey's insight in "Habit #5 "Seek to Understand" as you continue to discover and value who Millennials are and what they most appreciate. Ponder the small and large changes your company can make to engage and inspire this rising generation… and don’t forget to Tweet about it!
Tom Larkin is president, CEO and co-owner of Communico Ltd. and has more than thirty years of experience as a consultant, coach, facilitator and business owner. He is the co-author of How to Talk to Customers: Create a Great Impression Every Time with MAGIC® and is also a part-time professor at Fairfield University.
Eric Bowers is a client solutions specialist and free lance writer focused on cutting edge business strategy.