Home Thinking Aloud Making Friends With Millennials: Evolving The Customer Service Story

Making Friends With Millennials: Evolving The Customer Service Story


by Simon Tate, Area Vice President for Commercial Business – Asia, Salesforce

Portrait of young business professionals

Being successful in business today is intrinsically linked to having a firm grasp of what makes the millennial tick. If you don’t, then your business is missing out on tapping into arguably the most influential set of consumers the world has seen since post-war Baby Boomers. How they think and feel; their sense of community; and their appetite to share their opinions are all creating new paradigms for how any business, regardless of size, connects with its customers.

The millennials, aged between 18-35 years old, now make up more than 25% of Singapore’s current resident population, according to Singapore’s Department of Statistics. As the world’s first global generation, life is first and foremost about choice. They are highly educated and mobile centric. According to the Connected Life report by global research consultancy TNS Singapore, Singapore’s millennials spend an average of one day a week, or 3.4 hours per day, on their mobile phones.

At 1 million strong, the millennials in Singapore are a sizeable demographic with spending power to match, their online behaviour and appetite for digital experiences with brands are reshaping the very fabric of customer service delivery. When engaging with brands, they tend to prefer text-based interactions via social platforms and they expect an always on experience. They don’t like radio silence and they are ruthless when it comes to dropping brands that don’t deliver on good service. Salesforce recently conducted research, which found nearly 25 per cent of millennials expect to get a response within 10 minutes of reaching out for customer service via social media and nearly one quarter will boycott a company after one bad experience.

According to our research, millennials ardently avoid calling customer service. Instead, Facebook is the most popular social channel for customer service questions and is used twice as often as Twitter, which is the second most-used social media site. If you don’t have social as part of your customer service strategy, your business is missing out.

Their demands don’t end there: as well as speed of response, they want quality and convenience—a fast ordering process means same-day delivery. They want to be served up personalised choices and for you to talk to them like humans; and you must behave in a way that lives up to your values. If you are not authentic in your dealings with millennials you risk losing their business forever.

It is not surprising if you are feeling overwhelmed by this; you are definitely not alone. We are in the midst of great change and many businesses of all shapes and sizes are figuring out how they can implement the right social customer service strategy to meet the ever changing expectations of this increasingly powerful generation. Naturally, it is more complex for smaller sized businesses that tend to be tight on time and resources. However, if you do make the investment and differentiate your business with great customer service, you can tap into this huge market opportunity.

Old school customer service rules haven’t changed

At the core of great customer service is listening to and being responsive to your customer’s needs, questions and opinions. If a customer came into your place of business to question your service or ask where they can purchase the latest product, you wouldn’t ignore them would you? By taking these guiding traditional principles and marrying them with the right online plan and cloud-based to platforms, you can quickly and easily deliver modern customer service that seamlessly integrates with social networks.

This doesn’t mean you ignore those customers who still want to interact with you through traditional 1-to-1 environments. With the right customer service app, you can consolidate all your customer conversations and interactions—across website, phone, email and social media channels—into one centralised place enabling fast, efficient and agile responses.

By centralising all forms of communication you can give your employees access to 360 degree customer insights to allow them to proactively respond to customers quickly and efficiently. These tools are great for a growing business that needs to scale support processes to deal with an increasing volume of inquiries as well as responding to consumer comments, tapping into conversations trending online, and using your CRM to better manage aspects of the customer journey.

Your business never needs to relinquish that personal touch with your customers. In fact, with a centralised system to work off, your employees can be really consistent with how they answer questions and respond to feedback—feedback that you can use to continually improve your products and services.

Customer service is the new battleground for business advantage

The up-side is millennials thrive on businesses that deliver great customer experiences online and can become life-long loyal advocates. They are more willing to promote products or brands through social media in exchange for rewards as compared to their older counterparts. Globally, the Boston Consulting Group reports millennials and non-millennials spend about the same amount of time online, but millennials are more likely to use the Internet as a platform to broadcast their thoughts and experiences, as well as contributing user-generated content. That means if they have a good experience with your brand they will shout about it, meaning you are building an army of advocates.

People do business with those they like and even in the digital era, this cardinal rule remains the same. Every day at Salesforce, we work with our customers to ensure their brands are part of this rich ecosystem of influence. The right tools will help your customers discover and enjoy the experiences your business offers. It’s no longer about getting them from point A to point B in the customer service journey; customer service is now the battleground for business advantage.


Simon Tate

Simon Tate is a 20 year IT veteran and is currently Vice President of Commercial Sales Asia for Salesforce. He has held previous roles with companies like NetComm, Gateway Computers, Hummingbird / Opentext, EMC, and SAP. Simon is also an independent company director and has served on a number of advisory boards with technology focused companies in early stage (A or B) funding.