The "Entitled" Generation: A Driving Force Behind CX
We live in a world saturated by information. A world where we often take for granted the ease at which information is accessible, and by the same token are regularly overwhelmed by the mountainous collection of that same information. And while the consumer in us all is intimately familiar with the insurmountable pages of digital search results, we as organizations continue to market to consumers without truly understanding them.
Often defined by others as entitled and lazy, the millennial generation is often misrepresented. A generation made up of roughly 80 million people in the U.S., representing not only 25 percent of the U.S. population, but also 21 percent of consumer discretionary buying power—estimated at $1.3 trillion—Millennials are misunderstood. Millennials are actually a group of participants, content creators, users and philanthropists¹. They crave adventure, a healthy lifestyle, peer affirmation, and are “hooked” on social media. This heterogeneous cohort of 18-35 year olds look to embrace authentic cause marketing and align with brands that have a higher purpose.
The fact is, millennials are heavily comprised of digital natives, who hold great power and with that power comes the need for organizations to provide an unmatched experience.
1. Great Appeal Comes From Authenticity, Differentiation, & Purpose
Companies that are predicated on an authentic, different and purposeful mission not only drive high rates of customer acquisition, but also customer advocacy and participation through aligned customer experiences. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a prime example of a crowdsourced effort that appealed to Millennials, but also had all generations actively participating. The challenge, which was based on a charitable cause, fulfilled millennials needs to be a part of a cause, provide social proof to their peers, and create an inclusive experience. As a result, awareness was generated for the ALS disease and foundation, where consumers held a positive sentiment towards donation and participation.
According to BERA Brand Management, the most unique and meaningful brands will absolutely have the highest probability of sustained and economic performance².
2. Identify Your Brand Personality
Brand personality begins with the brand stand, and the brand stand starts by understanding the “why” of your organization. The concept of understanding the “why” of your organization was first explained in Simon Sinek’s theory of the “Golden Circle,” where companies must look beyond “what” they do and look towards “why” they do it. While there are no structural differences between organizations, it is an organization's brand stand that creates a fundamental, competitive difference. Take Apple for example. Millennials love Apple. Why? Well, because Apple doesn't sell its products outright.
If Apple were to sell it products, Sinek explains, its brand stand would sound much different. “We make great computers. They are beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. Want to buy one?” This is how many organizations market. However, Apple takes a much different approach. Its brand stand sounds more like this: “Everything we do we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”
Apple’s brand stand is the exact reason Millennials and other generations alike purchase not only computers from this admired brand, but also MP3 players, tablets, watches and software. Apple clearly understands that it is not what a company does that makes it successful, but why a company does it³.
3. Journey Personalization is Pivotal
Organizations focus heavily on the demographics of a population, creating strategies from a cookie cutter for marketing, customer service, operations and every other client facing business unit. As demographics differ from one another, so too do the individuals in those demographics. Understanding each individual customer, their households, and their conversations, is a result of small data in combination with big data. Coupling these two data types will allow organizations to more effectively engage with the “hooked” on social media population: Millennials. Companies will be able to provide timely and relevant content, and address any customer concerns at the forefront while bringing consumers closer to the point of purchase or re-purchase.
Many organizations think that customer experience is based on its ability to effectively address challenges at the frontlines, in addition to thinking that customer experience is housed solely in the contact center. The truth is, customer experience excellence stems from a top-down approach, where the mission and values of the organization are embedded in its culture, its employees, and its customers. What most organizations fail to understand is that customer experience is rooted in theory, which is then grounded in sound strategies and tactics.
(1) Fromm, J., Butler, C., & Dickey, C. (2015). How to engage Millennials: Re-imagining the consumer as a partner, not a target audience, to increase engagement.The Journal of Brand Strategy, 27-28.
(2) In ‘Brand Equity Relationship Assessment (BERA)’, available at http://www.berafindlove.com.com/downloads/10_minutes_with_Ryan_Barker.pdf (as cited in Fromm, Butler & Dickey, 2015).
(3) Sinek, S. (2009) ‘How great leaders inspire action’, TED, available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action (accessed July 1, 2015).