Young consumers are beginning to expect access to brand assistance whenever they may need it—here’s how some are tackling the 24/7 real-time customer service challenge.
We’ve predicted that young consumers’ brand expectations going forward will include real time 24/7 response, the next level of customer service. According to Ypulse monthly surveys, 71% of 14-32-year-olds say that having reliable customer service makes them feel they can trust a brand more, and 68% say that good customer service is a very/extremely important factor when they are deciding where to shop.
Young consumers’ expectation of customer service has been shaped by their social media use: they want in-the-moment care from brands. Emails with 48-hour response times are now frustrating—if not unacceptable—to a generation that prefers “live” one-on-one communication through social channels. A reported 75% of all transactions will be completed through mobile by 2020, so innovating customer care with mobile social tools that provide near-instant gratification is vital. We’ve long said that social media has opened up the opportunity for brands to connect directly with consumers, and vice versa, but not enough brands have yet given Millennials the 24/7 real time response they are beginning to expect.
Engaging directly with Millennials, and giving them the response they need in the moment they need it, is something all brands need to be working towards. Here are some of the ways that brands big and small are tackling the challenge right now:
Although e-commerce has changed the shopping industry, and has pulled in a record number of Millennial consumers with prices, selection, and convenience, it lacks the expertise of an in-store salesperson to give advice. North Face is hoping to bring that personal touch online by starting conversations with their “Expert Personal Shopper” platform. Shoppers are asked a series of questions like “Where and when will you be using this jacket?” to receive personalized recommendations. Millennials are responding: North Face reports a 60% click-through rate to the suggested product pages with the tool.
As we said, social media has provided a platform for brands and consumers to connect in new ways—and for brands to learn more about what those consumers want than ever before. But some brands are seeing opportunity to do even more. Everlane, known for their Millennial-friendly and non-traditional marketing, is experimenting with ways to make Instagram a hyper-focused customer engagement platform. The e-tailer has started a new Instagram account that is completely private, in order to have a more intimate exchange with their biggest fans. According to Digiday, “The idea is that @EverlaneStudio’s followers will be the brand’s most dedicated customers, and the company can introduce new products to them first and keep close track of their feedback on Instagram. Think of it as a modern version of the private sale, with the added benefits of a focus group.” Everlane currently has 720 followers in their private focus group feed.
According to Ypulse’s social media tracker, 17% of 18-33-year-olds currently use WhatsApp, a 6% increase from 2014. The recent announcement that the Facebook-owned messaging service has dropped their user fees could make it even more popular. The app plans to keep feeds ad and spam free, and instead replace revenue by partnering with businesses for “new experiences” that give consumers a direct line to brands. According to WhatsApp, that “could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight.” Dan Chapman, joint head of digital at MediaCom, tells Marketing Magazine that the future of brands on WhatsApp could be “customer relationship management on steroids.” Where social media has made the conversation between companies and consumers feel more personal, chat apps could actually turn them into one-on-one relationships—giving consumers more access to assistance when they need it, and allowing brands to learn more about their customers, and potentially improve accordingly.