31 July 2017

The Millennial Customer Experience: Engaging and Communicating with the Social Media Generation

Millennials, oft a source of both fascination and consternation to many marketers and companies, are the largest generation in American history.

Roughly 80 million strong and even growing in large part due to immigration, they’re an even larger generation than the Boomers were and currently represent about 25% of the entire population.

With such massive power as consumers, it’s no surprise that Millennials are completely changing customer experience design and influencing companies – in all departments – to make considerable changes both as business leaders and what they expect as consumers.

But consumer power is just one factor: the way that Millennials communicate and what they expect of businesses who want to retain them as loyal customers is drastically different than what previous generations expected. Their influence is changing the traditional buying process, and making customer experience the main competitive differentiator. Experience is now more important than product, price or convenience.

Here’s what you need remember when engaging Millennials and optimizing the customer experience with them in mind:

texting-at-stationOverall, Millennials use the phone and even email less than previous generations

Millennials largely prefer texting and the use of chat apps over speaking to a live customer service agent for problems that are relatively quick to fix.

Chatbots have also grown in popularity with Millennial customers and can represent significant cost savings and greater efficiency where staff isn’t overburdened with queries that the chatbot can easily answer from a database.

As Millennials caused a shift towards text messaging as a preferred mode of communication to email, about 70% of people now write shorter emails and this includes business correspondence.

People between 25-34 send and receive over 75 text messages a day on average.

This encompasses SMS texting as well as chat and social media apps. Nielsen found Americans in general are now texting twice as much as they call people for personal and business reasons, regardless of age group. Millennials are definitely leading the charge for the shift to text, since texting just speeds the process up significantly and provides a reference that is easy to retrieve and copy in the event the communication escalates.

The entire experience, from making a purchase to following up with customer service, is slowly becoming a mobile-first one for Millennials

Having both an app and a mobile-ready website that offers smooth user experience with many of the same functionalities as your desktop site will go a long way towards attracting and retaining Millennial customers.

While Millennials in the US haven’t quite adopted a mobile-first culture like China has, researching products and communicating with customer service along with many other aspects of the customer journey are slowly becoming mobile-first. It’s unsurprising given that the average Millennial checks their phone 157 times a day.

There are so many ways to incorporate the mobile world into your customer experience, such as exclusive offers that are in-app only and using beacon technology in stores that results in push notifications for personalized sales or recommendations.

Enabling customer service contact through apps, as well as texting, is also the shift that Millennials are moving towards as calling starts to become a last resort instead of the first thing they’ll do if there’s an issue with an order.

Texting as everyday communicationSocial media presence is a major part of the Millennial customer experience

Millennials expect to see brands on major social media platforms.

Social media not only provides effective marketing, but is also a very public-facing way of resolving issues with customers. In the past, customer service was entirely behind closed doors.

Millennials use technology to their advantage and want to make companies be more transparent about their practices. And there are customers in this age bracket who won’t hesitate to tag a company in a complaint that could get a lot of attention.

And we know that from my last post on bad customer experiences, that only about 28% of customers are willing to return to a company they’ve had a bad experience with.

It’s all in the response. How you respond to that public complaint is a chance to worsen the damage or show the world how skilled your customer service team is.

Millennials are the most diverse generation America has ever had, with many being foreign-born and speaking languages other than English

With a significant rise in immigration, Millennials are not only the biggest generation there ever was in the nation’s history but also one that is still growing. Approximately 25% of Millennials speak a language other than English at home, and about 15% are foreign-born.

While a significant amount speak fluent English, language barriers still remain in customer service for Millennials who are still learning English or need to articulate certain points in their native language.

This is resulting in increased demand for multilingual customer service staff and chatbots programmed in different languages.


Overall, Millennials are bringing the customer experience into the mobile world and organizations that aren’t starting to adapt to a mobile-first approach are going to be left behind.

Text is preferred to voice when it comes to communications, and it’s very easy for this generation to make public what used to be private conversations between a customer and a customer service representative.

Millennials are happy with the rising prominence of chatbots, and this is also convenient for cost savings in the long run. Chatbots can remove a lot of strain from telephony infrastructure and customer service staff, as firing off text messages if the chatbot can’t answer a question is more efficient than placing several voice calls in a queue.

It’s definitely prudent to contact Millennial customers by text, in-app communications, or chat app first instead of calling, or else you risk losing their business over time.

By investing in a mobile-first customer service infrastructure complete with chatbots and training your customer service staff to adapt to this new way of communicating with the largest consumer bloc in the country, both customers and staff alike will be happier and generating more revenue.

Not Sure Where to Start? Discover the Right Approach

We help all types of organizations assess their current processes for customer outreach and identify opportunities to improve the customer experience (CX). We don’t sell software or products and we’re technology agnostic, so we help you find the right CX solution to reach your Millennial customers – and all of your customer segments – in the way they prefer.

Learn more on how we can help you reach your goals.

Authored bY

Mark Pendolino

Mark Pendolino is the Director of Marketing at PTP, overseeing the creation of customer experience content focused on helping organizations discover best practices for evolving the customer journey. Prior to PTP, Mark managed teams for companies such as Microsoft, Smartsheet, Fujitsu, and Parsons Brinckerhoff. Mark holds a master’s in Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington, and a bachelor’s in Technical Communications from Metropolitan State University of Denver. In his downtime, Mark likes to thrash a bit on the drumkit and pretend he’s a rock star.


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