As preparation for this article, I conducted a brief experiment on Google by typing in two words, millennials then boomers. Millennials returned about 34, 100,000 results. Boomers returned about 21,300,000 results. According to a 2016 study from the Pew Research Center, Millennials have overtaken the Baby Boomers as Americas largest generation. Millennials, whom are defined as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). And Generation X (ages 35-50 in 2015) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.
Millennials have grown up with high technology in the home, school, and workplace. Millennials are changing everything especially in the buying, selling, and support of products and services. Millennials prefer online chat or messaging apps when interacting with a company surpassing telephone and email. 40% of millennials are amenable to chatting with a person or robot, Chatbot, when seeking information from a retailer. Up to 40% of millennials are also open to using messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp for product data. Millennials are multi-taskers and often have multiple chat sessions ongoing at the same time. Following are the 10 rules for conducting chat sessions with millennials:
- Respond quickly: When chatting with a millennial be direct and on point. Very little small talk is necessary. Millennials seek answers to their questions and then move to their next chat session.
- Device independent: Millennials own more smartphones, (77%), than any other population segment and spend over 2 hours a day using them. They are digitally connected at all times via their phones, tablets, or laptops. Chat sessions must be accessible via all devices.
- Availability 24×7: Millennials work and sleep at odd times compared to the more traditional Boomers 9-5 work day. Many are engaged in the emerging Gig project work economy. Response to a chat must be available 24×7.
- Keep it Personal: Although, Millennials don’t like to waste time, they do appreciate brands that personalize their chat responses. Tasteful joking and emoticons keep the session casual and more human.
- Employee Millennials: Millennials prefer to correspond with other millennials. As with all generations, they have slang words that may or may not be appropriate to use during a chat session. A millennial employee would know when/if to use a slang phrase or term.
- Images and Videos Rule: Millennials love visual aids. Sending a link to an image or better yet, a video beats text when attempting to solve a problem. Include visual aids as part of your arsenal for chat sessions.
- Social Media Support: Businesses in the know are already promoting their products or services via social media. But how many provide support via social media? Millennials expect to find sales AND support on social media. If you don’t provide both, millennials will seek alternatives.
- FAQ Support is Passe’: Millennials are very proactive and self reliant. Before seeking help, they read website frequently asked questions (FAQ) or product forums for answers. If they contact your company don’t refer them to the FAQ or you risk alienating a customer. Chat them up but don’t alienate them.
- Display A Real Face and Name: Millennials are more emotionally connected to brands than other generations. Include a name and picture of the employee chatting with the millennial. The best solution would be real-time audio/video but the customer’s bandwidth may not support this option.
- Provide Real Value: Millennials are technically savvy and are always interested in the latest services, features, or apps. Use the chat or message session to “soft launch” something new and your millennial customer will be so impressed they may share with others on their social media platforms. What a great way to launch a new service, feature, or app!
Keep in mind that millennials are still people not an alien species. Always treat people with respect during your business dealings. Forward thinking businesses see the future and are adapting their businesses to serve this large segment of the population. If you haven’t already adopted many of the items mentioned above, consider adding chat, messaging apps, and product support on social media as components of your business.