Today’s interview is with Micah Solomon, a speaker, consultant, and bestselling author on customer service, the customer experience, and company culture. He’s also a fellow Forbes contributor and joins me today to talk about his new ebook (Your Customer Is The Star: How To Make Millennials, Boomers And Everyone Else Love Your Business), what are the biggest lessons that firms should be learning right now with regards to the rise of new types of customers and what actions they should be taking.
This interview follows on from my recent interview: Compliments received are a leading indicator of service culture improvement – Interview with Ron Kaufman of UP! Your Service – and is number 133 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and deliver great service and experience.
Highlights from my interview with Micah:
- Millennials are now the largest, most diverse generation in the U.S. population.
- They were largely born between 1980 and 2000 and have never known a world without fast-internet and smartphones. And, more importantly, they expected them to work all of the time.
- Millennial customer characteristics include:
- They embrace self service and automated solutions most of the time.
- They want and expect things to come fast (overnight delivery, instant downloads etc etc).
- They often believe in and actively seek to shop in a way that is congruent with their values.
- They believe in transparency and want to know what is going on within companies.
- They like a genuine style of customer service, they don’t like scripted interactions and are a bit more relaxed about the uniforms that employees wear.
- Micah cites Andaz, a hotel near Liverpool Street station in London, which epitomizes this ethos, where the staff at the hotel don’t have uniforms but are given an allowance to buy clothes from a specific designer that represents the local ethos.
- However, we are all becoming more and more ‘millennial’ in our behaviour as we all become more comfortable and expectant of mobile technology.
- 85% of all millennials, who are still teenagers, name one of their parents as one of their best friends rather than a peer.
- However, although this generation’s purchasing power may still be growing they are influencing upwards (i.e. their parents and their generation) in terms of style and purchases.
- Micah provides a couple of examples of firms that are grappling well in he face of the demands of the ‘Millennial’ generation (speed, transparency, genuine etc):
- Domino’s Pizza in the US have recently introduced a ‘Pizza Tracker’ feature to their ordering process as a replacement for their 30 min delivery guarantee. The ‘Pizza Tracker’ allows customers to see where their pizza is in the production and delivery cycle thus providing the transparency and (appearance of) speed that this generation is looking for.
- He elaborates on the Andaz hotel example where, in addition, to their uniforms they bring tablets to the arriving guests so that they can check them using the tablet. This is done side by side rather than across a big desk and fits with the idea of ‘genuine’ service.
- Nordstrom in its retail stores are doing away with the idea of having a ‘cash register’ or a location where you pay. This allows customers to pay where and when they want but also allows them to avoid queuing.
- Spending by millennials in the US is projected to grow to become the largest spending generation segment within the next 4-5 years.
- Millennials are set to become the majority of business travelers. Business travelers book some 90% of all hotel nights.
- Many of them are also fast moving up the corporate ladder and will soon be in charge of many of the purse strings that are associated with B2B transactions too.
- You can’t build a customer experience that is only for Baby Boomers as they are being influenced by Millennials.
- Micah’s ‘Jetsons Test’:
- Much of the customer service in the ‘Jetsons’ world is automated and/or provided by machines. This is done to prevent human beings from frustrating customers and to focus effort on the areas of the customer experience where customers value human interaction (i.e. warmth and a little bit of drama/personality).
- The test: If a human can do the job more efficiently or more effectively or with more warmth than a machine can then a human being should do the job. If not, then companies should, at least, offer customers an automated solution as one of their options. Otherwise, you end up with human beings ‘gumming up the works’ and there is no escape valve for your customers.
About Micah (taken from his LinkedIn profile)
Micah Solomon is a customer service expert, entrepreneur, business leader and author, and a renowned keynote speaker on customer service, the customer experience, corporate culture and building five-star customer service organizations. He is a frequent contributor to forbes.com and the bestselling author of two previous books (Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization and High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service: Inspire Timeless Loyalty in the Demanding New World of Social Commerce).