Let me get you to a human faster

A recent article on millennials at salesforce.com referred to them as the Convenience Generation. Perhaps it’s just me – and it wasn’t the apparent intent of the author — but that moniker seems to have a negative connotation, like millennials can’t be bothered to drive to a store, make a telephone call or get off the couch to change the channel.

It’s not an inaccurate characterization, but why is convenience so important to them? Perhaps it’s because they’ve never lived without it.

Technology has grown to a point to where we don’t have to go to a store to make a purchase, go to a library to do research, install a shelf to store our books, make a phone call to talk to a friend, or heaven forbid, step across the living room to switch stations on the television.

Millennials have never known a world without remote controls, cell phones or the Internet. Smartphones have become advanced to the point where we’re essentially carrying computers around in our pockets. And new apps are developed every day that eliminate the need to stand in lines or call ahead to place an order.

It isn’t millennials fault that they’re accustomed to these conveniences – and it shouldn’t be surprising that they’ve come to demand them.

That’s why successful businesses today must not only know their customers, but also the many devices and apps they use in their everyday lives, the social media they use to communicate and the media through which to reach them.

As salesforce.com blogger Tamar Frumkin notes, a business must anticipate the needs of millennials – and all its customers — and save them time by offering smart self-service solutions across a variety of devices and formats.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that millennials’ love for technology and convenience means the human element is no longer important. While an Aspect Software study found that nearly three-fourths of millennials prefer to solve customer-service issues on their own, it’s not the human that’s often at the other end of the typical customer service call that’s the problem – it’s the inconvenience of getting to that human.

Millennials crave human connection as much as any other generation, but the media in which those connections are made have changed. Where Baby Boomers went to the store and met with salespeople directly and Gen-Xers spoke with them on the telephone, online chatting or social media solutions are among the ways to reach the newer generation of consumers.

The goals are the same. You want to make a sale. They want to be satisfied with their purchase. But the tools are different. And to be successful with a generation whose collective purchasing power is expected to exceed $3.39 trillion by 2018, you’ve got to keep up.

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