Adding self-service technology, like kiosks and IVR, to purchase and customer service processes has obvious benefits for meeting millennial consumer behavior. But the benefits go beyond this one demographic. From schools to corporations, you find people of all ages buried in their smartphones, looking for quick answers to simple problems. That’s why it’s so important to focus on the self-service customer experience.
The ability to work, shop, check finances and share your every thought on a mobile device is now standard. And while many blame technology for widening the generational gap, that same technology also brings people together by creating an all new generation: the self-service generation. This generation is motivated by independence and efficiency, and it spans all age groups.
That means businesses must rethink their policies to reach these consumers. Here are a few keys to remember when crafting a self-service customer experience that focuses beyond millennial consumer behavior.
Not Just Millennial Consumer Behavior
Baby Boomers and Generation Xers are becoming more adept at using smartphones and devices to self-serve. According to a recent study by Charles Schwab, which surveyed 1,800 affluent consumers across four generations, 54 percent preferred using technology to find answers and solve problems.
The results were similar across all generations, particularly between millennials and Gen Xers. People desire self-service across all industries and generations.
We conducted our own survey, and we found that significant chunks of millenials, Gen Xers and baby boomers preferred to use mobile apps and self-service or prioritized convenience for certain tasks. This certainly isn’t just part of millennial consumer behavior anymore. Check out the results below.
However, as consumers become more proficient at self-help, many organizations exhibit a lack of context and capability.
Many companies now offer phone, SMS, webchat and in-app services to serve customers on their “channel of choice.”
That’s an important step toward increasing customer happiness and loyalty, but what happens when they traverse channels? Do they get the same experience in each? Can an agent pick up the interaction where the caller left off?
Mobile Shift: Consistency in Every Channel
It’s been a long time since people only had a landline and a desktop computer. But it’s taken years for consumers to accept handheld technology as their primary choice for researching, buying from and communicating with their favorite brands. This change is called the mobile shift.
This shift has made mobile channels more prevalent, but it’s also had an effect on every buying and customer service channel in your business. For example, 80% of millennials use mobile devices while shopping in stores. Check out our whitepaper, Proactively Responding to the Mobile Shift Part I, for more insights like this one.
Therefore, an omnichannel approach is becoming the norm across all industries.
Sending a text message saying, « Your order has shipped » or « Your flight is delayed » is great. But what happens if your customers try to respond to that text? Or what if they decide to go to your app or website to take further action? Even though the interaction started via SMS, customers expect to solve their problem in any of your other channels. And for many, they expect to do it through self-service.
According to the Schwab study, 66 percent of respondents preferred human touch when designing a financial portfolio. But about 40 percent of millennials and Gen Xers actually preferred help from a computer algorithm. About 30 percent of boomers and 24 percent of older respondents also preferred the algorithm.
Advanced technology is the first step in creating a self-service customer experience. Set up a comprehensive IVR solution to provide step-by-step guidance. But make sure your IVR shares data with your proactive text notifications and contact center so you can provide the best service in every channel, regardless of where the conversation began.
Surviving in a Cashless Society
With wide-ranging ages, differing preferences and fluid channels, supplying the same experience in every channel and leveraging data is imperative.
While many customers may be looking for a self-service option, they are taking different journeys to get there. Companies need to spend time understanding each customer’s journey and seek input from both consumers and employees.
Also, consider how to integrate mobile in unexpected ways. In a recent study, 46 percent of consumers preferred using mobile payment while in a store. While that may sound jarring, it opens new opportunities for you. Send coupons or up sells to your customers’ phones. When someone has access to those mini promotions at the register, they’re more likely to take action on it.
And while mobile is continuing to take more market share, don’t discount more traditional channels. After all, 53 percent of consumers still purchase goods at least monthly using their PC. Check out our whitepaper, Proactively Responding to the Mobile Shift Part II, for more insights like this.
Lastly, find a communication partner like West who can provide unified service across channels and ensure your strategy is functional, accessible and creates an emotional connection that keeps customers coming back.
Brands that connect interactions, predict behavior and deliver a perpetually better experience will be strategically positioned to evolve with customers, no matter where they are in their customer journey.
Crafting the Best Self-Service Customer Experience
Instead of adopting technology to match your expectations of millennial consumer behavior, take a wider approach. Customers of all ages have come to terms with self-service, so a broader self-service customer experience may be the best strategy for your business.
Once you’re on board with that, learn how to get customers to adopt your new self-service solutions in our blog post, 21 Steps to Get Customers to Love Self-Service. Or feel free to call or text one of the West customer experience experts at 800.841.9000.
The self-service generation has created our world’s emphasis on new technologies. Now those consumers are looking to the same technologies to connect with your business. Lean into the mobile shift to reach them where they are, and your relationships will last for generations to come.