As we head into 2017, the millennial generation is now the largest domestically and worldwide, outnumbering even the Baby Boom generation from whose loins they sprung, according to Pew, which tracks such things.

So it’s more important than ever to be sure that your customer service practices and customer experience design are ready to serve these young customers the way they want to be served. The time to get this right is short; the millennial generation, also known as Gen Y, has a purchase power as well that will soon equal and then eclipse that of the Baby Boomers. To compound the effect, it’s not just consumer (B2C) dollars they’ll have under their control. These young customers are also becoming decision makers at major corporations, thus controlling purse strings that affect the success and failure of those of you with B2B companies as well.

With the impending new year, let me offer a year-end recap on how to provide the best customer experience and customer service for millennials, adapted from my Forbes Media ebook on the subject, Your Customer is the Star: How to Make Millennials, Boomers and Everyone In Between Fall in Love With Your Business.

Millennial Shopper-Image courtesy HauteAppetit and Salsify.com

1.Your customer-facing technology needs to be intuitive, and it needs to simply work. Millennials have grown up with digital devices that bundle communication, entertainment, shopping, mapping and education all in one. From an early age, smartphone use has been the norm. Millennials have always had Internet at home and in school. MP3 players have long offered them ubiquitous music options. Naturally, then, millennials embrace and align themselves with technology.

Because of this identification with technology, millennials tend to adopt new technology more quickly compared with the more skeptical approach of previous generations. Technology has become far more user friendly during millennials’ lifetimes, particularly when compared to what previous generations encountered. The relentless focus on simplifying the user interface at Apple, Amazon, Google and other less visible technology players has set a new standard of intuitiveness across the tech industry that millennials accept as the norm. Businesses should be careful not to throw clunky, alienating technology, systems, or processes at these customers and expect patience or understanding as customers struggle to find a workaround.

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2. The customer experience—and the purchasing decision–is now a social experience. Millennials express their sociability online as well as in real life (“IRL”), particularly in the many arenas where online and offline activities and circles of friends overlap. Offline, millennials are more likely than other generations to shop, dine and travel with groups, whether these are organized interest groups, less formal groupings of peers or excursions with extended family, according to Boston Consulting Group data. Online, their sharing habits on Facebook, Snapchat and other social sites, and the opinions they offer on Yelp, TripAdvisor and Amazon reflect their eagerness for connection, as do their electronic alerts to friends and followers (via Foursquare et al.) that show off where they are, where they’re coming from and where they’re headed—online alerts that reflect and affect behavior in the physical world.

This social behavior has big implications for those of us who serve customers. Millennials tend to make buying decisions collaboratively, and they don’t consume food, beverages, services, products or media in silence. They eat noisily (so to speak) and very visually. They review, blog and Tumblr, update Wikipedia entries and post Youtube, Vine and Instagram videos. Often these posts concern their consumption activities, interests and aspirations. All told, as Boston Consulting Group reports, “the vast majority of millennials report taking action on behalf of brands and sharing brand preferences in their social groups.”

3. Your brand needs to be open to customer collaboration and co-creation. Millennials enjoy the possibility of collaborating with businesses and brands, as long as they believe that their say matters to the company in question. They don’t necessarily see a clear boundary between the customer and the brand, the customer and marketer, and the customer and service provider. Alex Castellarnau at Dropbox, the popular file transfer service, put it to me this way: With millennials, “a new brand, service or product is only started by the company; it’s finished by the customers. Millennials are a generation that wants to co-create the product, the brand, with you. Companies that understand this and figure out ways to engage in this co-creation relationship with millennials will have an edge.”

4. You need offer self-service and crowdsourced customer service options. Building the right experience for this new generation of customers requires you to think hard about an uncomfortable subject: where human employees are helpful to customers, and where they just get in the way. Today’s customers often dowant you out of the way. Millennials, and those who share a millennial outlook, hold different ideas about where human-powered service fits into the customer experience. Younger customers, through years of experience with online and self-service solutions, have grown used to the way technology can reduce the need for human gatekeepers to ensure accuracy and manage data. So the last thing they want is for your employees to gum up the works without adding value.

5. Paradoxically, millennial customers also crave a true, authentic, personalized experience as customers. Millennial customers crave the joys of adventure and discovery, whether epic or everyday. Millennials often view commerce and even obligatory business travel as opportunities rather than burdens, due to the adventures that can be had along the way. I’m reluctant to chalk up this phenomenon to youthful wanderlust alone, because the breadth of experiences this generation craves suggests there’s something more at work. For example:

• When shopping, millennials they prefer an “experiential” retail environment, where shopping is more than a transaction and the pleasure of being in the store isn’t limited to the goods that customers take home.

• When millennials dine out, for example, they’re often in search of something exotic, adventuresome, memorable or new to explore during their dining experience. This has helped transform cuisine searches (“tastespotting”) into an adventure—and food truck-following (a concept sure to evoke fears of stomachache in some of their elders) into its own culture.

6. They care about your values as a company. Millennials integrate their beliefs and causes into their choice of companies to support, their purchases and their day-to-day interactions. More than 50% of millennials make an effort to buy products from companies that support the causes they care about, according to research from Barkley, an independent advertising agency. And they’re twice as likely to care about whether or not their food is organic than are their nonmillennial counterparts, according to Boston Consulting Group. When you consider how money-strapped many millennials remain, their willingness to put a premium on such issues is striking. And millennials are concerned with more than political and ethical issues. They also care about what’s genuine and authentic. This interest falls somewhere between a purely aesthetic preference and a search for honesty, for truth. And it’s a powerful force for motivating millennial customers.

Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant, customer experience consultant, keynote speaker, trainer, and bestselling author. Click for two free chapters from Micah’s latest book, The Heart of Hospitality, or click here to email him directly, for an immediate response.

This article was sourced from http://centralsportsnews.com