Survey Finds Millennials Expect a Consistent Customer Experience Everywhere and All the Time
Wakefield, MA-based content management company SDL has released the final report of the “Five Truths for Future Marketers” series titled “Channels are Irrelevant” that features results from SDL’s global survey of more than 1,800 millennials (ages 18-36). To say the least it contains a lot of food for thought, not just for retailers, but for those throughout the entire customer experience value chain.
The survey results, summarized in an interesting infographic, show that the digitally adept milliennials no longer care about where they are or what device they are using when interacting with a brand. In fact, the big high-level finding is that 58 percent of respondents said they expect to engage with a company whenever they choose, and via whichever channel they elect. Furthermore, 60 percent expect a consistent experience from brands, whether they interact online, in store or via phone
SDL believes the message here is compelling, and that it highlights, “The critical need for brands to stop focusing on channels and instead apply what they know about their consumers to elevate the overall experience in the buying journey.”
Context for the survey is that millennials matter.
Not only are millennials a growing part of the workforce and the consumer market, but they are the “always on” and “always connected” generation. Hence, they bring with them the expectation of consistent and seamless interactions with brands.
How connected are they?
To start, millennials touch their smartphones 43 times per day, and 30 percent admit they touch more than four devices over the course of 24 hours. In short, the answer to the question is they are well connected. And, the lesson for marketers is they had best adapt to the rapidly changing consumer behaviors, preferences, and expectations, or suffer the consequences.
“Consumers have drastically changed the way they engage and interact with companies, altering expectations and making it imperative for brands to quickly adapt,” said Paige O’Neill, chief marketing officer at SDL. “To keep pace, marketers should focus on the experiences customers want throughout the customer journey, and adjust company strategies to coincide. If you change the way you engage customers on one channel, it may only be one step in an overall strategy. It is vital for organizations to ensure channels are so connected that they become irrelevant, placing the focus on delivering true omni-channel engagement.”
SDL says there are three critical questions to guide the process to true omni-channel engagement, and also offers some observations about how best to answer them:
It is essential to meet customers where they are and to consistently offer information they find useful. Content should be specific to each stage of the buying journey, and brands must take full advantage of the information and data collected on where their messaging performs well with the buyer. By capturing who is interacting with them and at what stages of the buying journey, brands can deliver relevant information to the consumer, elevating the experience. Growing customer relationships is not always about getting the sale. Marketers need to take a long-term view and understand that meaningful relationships develop over time.
Is your customer experience consistent across different devices and platforms?
Consistent customer experience can be a key differentiator for a brand. It reinforces your identity, and in a marketplace full of competition and noise, it keeps your audience focused on the most important message of all – yours. According to a recent customer experience survey from McKinsey & Company, measuring satisfaction on customer journeys is 30 percent more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness for each individual interaction.
How can you continue to connect internal silos to ensure access to all the critical data you need?
Marketers must work with relevant departments and agencies to create a communications asset inventory and identify all touch points along the customer journey. Are you effectively collecting – and leveraging – data from every step along the way? If not, what more can you do to improve internal collaboration? Staying attentive and periodically updating both your inventory and related processes allows you to prevent emerging channels from creating new data silos.
The headline of the report that ‘channels are irrelevant’ is certainly a grabber, and “irrelevant” is probably the wrong way to describe the results. Indeed, it would appear that not only are all channels relevant, but as the McKinsey report says, when it comes to customer experience, the three “Cs” are consistency, consistency and consistency; this is true not just for millennials but for all of us.
Edited by Adam Brandt