Customer Experience: Are You Ready for the Millennials?

Last week, Christa and I were honored to present a How to Deliver a Great Customer Experience breakout session at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce annual meeting. We presented to a packed room of business owners and innovators, all looking to understand the rapid changes in how customers and businesses interact.

Customer Experience goes beyond mere service. In the last five years, consumer needs have grown exponentially with the change in technology. Twenty-four seven service is quickly becoming a demand to meet our increasingly mobile life-style. This is posing a challenge for businesses to implement or integrate new technology into their business model.

This is a daunting task for any organization – large or small. Our group was struggling with the definition of Customer Service versus Customer Experience. They are not synonymous, and to think these two definitions are exchangeable would be a mistake.

This was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Millennials are driving the push for higher service, more mobility and personalized attention. They are the largest generation to date, counting in at 80 million strong. They want options when choosing their customer experience. They want to be the ones to decide if they shop online or in person, have mobile accesses or agent interaction. They don’t want to be considered a number, but they don’t want to wait in line either. In short, they want it all.

Our presentation outlined the rigorous and, at times, overwhelming process to deliver great customer experience. We quickly realized, based on audience response, that businesses are not prepared to meet the new demands of consumers. And in the highly competitive world in which we live, keeping customers is vital to business success.

That’s the thing:  How does a business give customers everything they want and not break the bank?

This is where prioritization and partnership comes in. As I often tell businesses, they don’t have to do it alone. But they do have to do something to move forward. The old adage, if you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward, has merit. It’s a tale of caution to balance the needs of the customers with the needs of the business. But if you don’t respond to the changing environment, you – and your business – will be left behind.

Customer Experience is about the life of the customer –  not the life of the product or service. Businesses need to expand their definition…and how they think about customer experience if they are to survive in the future.

So, you need to ask yourself:  Are you ready?

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