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Help Me Help Myself Or I’m Out – Millennials and Gen Z Expect You to Have A Good Self-Service Strategy

Millennials have dominated the discussions around generational change and consumer trends, and have been a driving force behind digital transformation efforts in virtually any industry. Retailers and brands have obsessed over Millennials to learn what matters to them and build products and services around those desires. But there is a new generation right behind them, deserving of your attention.

Meet the Gen Z aka “Millennials on Steroids”: consumers born in the late 90s and early 2000s. Despite being less financially mature than older generations, they are already disrupting markets with their unique shopping preferences.

When it comes to digital shopping, they build on the attitudes and expectations first identified among Millennials.

They are open to new ideas and experiments and are willing to try new services like Chatbots, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa artificial intelligence platforms.

They grew up with a strong presence of technology in their lives, hardly ever had to wait for information and hence, have a lower patience for services that involve standing in a line or being put on hold.

“The on-demand economy, ranging from video-on-demand services such as Netflix to dates-on-demand apps such as Tinder, is making Gen Z the most demanding, least-patient generation ever; this is the ‘always-on, on-demand’ generation” – Fung Global Retail Tech

For businesses that are still figuring out what works for Millennials, the emergence of the Gen Z will further widen the digital divide and amplify many of the existing hurdles in serving these customers.

Truth be told. If you haven’t started to integrate digital technologies in your customer experience strategy, it will be an uphill battle from here.

 

Self-Service Emerges as a Key Requirement

According to EY’s “One tough customer” report, Millennials and Gen Z are the most self-educated generation in history. What they value are brands and retailers who relate to their needs, providing them with a unique, personalized micro-experience.

They expect information to be immediately available, want to interact with as few people as possible and prefer to be able to help themselves.

This aligns with findings shared in several reports and surveys

  • The report The Real Self-Service Economy by Steven Van Belleghem shows that 40% of approximately 3,000 consumers prefer self-service to human contact for their future contact with companies, and 70% expect a company website to include a self-service application.
  • Microsoft’s Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report revealed that over 40% of the 4,000 consumers surveyed expect brands and organizations to have a customer self-service offering.
  • Forrester Research’s Customer Life Cycle Survey notes that respondents prefer using self-service FAQ pages on a company’s website over speaking with an agent on the phone. According to the survey, self-service channel usage has increased from 67% in 2012 to 76% in 2014, while phone usage remains the same at 73%.
  • Aspect found in their survey that nearly three out of four Millennials prefer to solve their customer service issues on their own. 69% reported feeling good about themselves and the company they’re doing business with when they resolve a problem without talking to a customer service representative.

 

Whether on the web, smartphone or in stores, both generations demand a seamless shopping experience. Retailers and brands have to make it easy for them to find what they want anywhere, anytime and on their own.

Clearly, self-service needs to become a big part of your customer service offering if you want to effectively cater to both demographics.

Here are some tips to succeed with your customer self-service strategy:

 

1. Make Self-Service an Effortless Time-Saver

The key element of a successful self-service strategy is low effort.

73% customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing businesses can do to increase their customer service satisfaction. Your self-service channel should not require a great deal of learning. It needs to be intuitive and convenient.

Millennials and Gen Z are both extreme multitaskers and have a low tolerance for delays. They don’t want to spend too much time researching, comparing or bargain hunting. Give them the product that fits their needs in the minimum time and they are not likely to look anywhere else. Experience is a more sustainable differentiator than price and the company that helps customers save time is a winner.

Great self-service connects the customer with the product or answer they need fast with a minimal number of clicks and steps required.

For instance, sportsluggage.com uses an interactive luggage advisor to help shoppers choose the right luggage with their favorite pro team’s logo. Users can answer a few need- and interest-based questions to see a curated list of products that are specifically suited to their needs. It significantly reduces the time they need to figure out what to purchase and enhances the overall experience.

Mojo Sports Luggage Advisor
Mojo Sports Luggage Advisor
Check out SMARTASSISTANT or Zuvoo Freemium to build your own interactive digital advisor. Provide your customers with more efficient ways to choose the right product on their own and in less time.
TIP: They offer options to create your advisor for free!

 

2. Make Self-Service an Option, But Not The Only Option

A good self-service strategy should enhance and not replace assisted service. There are situations when customers will want to speak to someone who can assist them, answer their questions or walk them through a process.

There will still be a need for more personalized channels with skilled shop assistants and agents who can support customers with their more sophisticated issues.

 

3. Make Self-Service Proactive and Available Everywhere

Your self-service offering is only effective, if your customers can actually find it.

It is essential that you integrate your solution during the key micro-moments of the customer journey when customers are open to receiving your advice and support or even expect it.

Read more: Integrating Guided Selling in the Customer Journey #SMARTInsights

Ensure that your self-service option is available at different touchpoints (on your site, social media, communities and portals) and usable(!) on every device your customers use.

 

4. Make Self-Service Personal

Great self-service is personal and takes into account the customer’s needs.

Effective use of data combined with effective guided selling and guided troubleshooting approaches will help you offer quick and customized experiences that are sure to hit the right notes with the smarter, savvier consumers.

By creating relevant content, sharing your advice, and more importantly, by making it easy for customers to discover the right content or solution interactively, customers will look to you as a trusted resource, visit your site more often and share it with others.

 

Conclusion

Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly self-reliant. They prefer solving problems on their own instead of asking for help.

They feel good when given a chance to be their own hero.

In this age of independence, self-reliance and entrepreneurialism, self-service is a game-changing disruptor. It places power in the hands of the consumers. This makes them feel more confident about their decisions and increases purchase autonomy. As Millennial and Gen Z consumers will continue to seek out companies that make choosing, purchasing and the aftersales process easy, there is no doubt that retailers and brands need to integrate self-service options to meet the expectations of these generations.

A well balanced approach that combines fast, seamless and proactive self-service with intuitive, skilled and on-demand customer service sets you up for a win in a marketplace rife with smarter, independent and tech-savvy consumers.

To learn more about integrating Digital Advice solutions into your Self-Service strategy, visit smartassistant.com

 

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Vera Mayer is the VP of Professional Services at SMARTASSISTANT. She has an academic background in Fashion Management and holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In her role as the leader of SMARTASSISTANT’s Global Professional Service Team, she doesn't only consult international businesses on effective digital advice strategies across channels and helps them generate a positive ROI quickly, she also spearheads the development of creative solutions in the SMARTASSISTANT Innovations Lab. Vera is also a founding member of “The Sorority” - a professional women’s network dedicated to promoting professional development and peer networking.