The Emerging Buyer

Our research for Cisco and JamIP suggests that Generation Y (19-25-year-olds) have experience of buying from most industry sectors; they have quickly become experienced consumers. Even the younger Web Generation (13-18-year-olds) have a surprising amount of experience, dealing with the travel, telecoms, entertainment, retail and banking sectors.

Brand On Hold

We asked these young consumers to rate the importance of price, brand, product quality and customer service for a range of products and services. They were alert to advertisements – “You buy into the advertising” – but their top criteria were price and good service: “Price and value for money – also lasting power.” One young person explained how they buy the “…cheapest best thing for the spec. I don’t follow the brands.” Both generations shop around and want ‘transactional relationships’. They tend to be less loyal to brands and are transitory customers.

Top Criteria:
Price and value for money – also lasting power

Implications For Customer Contact

1. Personal service demanded: “Talking to someone” – person-to-person contact – is important
These young generations share with others the social need to talk to people. Contrary to some beliefs, which view them as ‘silent’ or solely screen-based, they want to talk to someone for customer service. They value immediacy and simplicity: talking face-to-face and by phone works best for them.

2. Visual culture emerges: Video will go mainstream for customer contact and communication
TV and YouTube are heavily used by these generations, who show a preference for visual entertainment and information. Using video and camera functions on mobile devices and sharing photos and videos on social networking sites is a major past time. In the future, visual technologies will play a part in building much-needed customer trust with contact centre agents and customer service teams.

3. The new world of mobile service: want to access customer contact on the move
Mobile phones are the number one gadget for both generations. Their lifestyle and future work preferences indicate greater mobility, so they want businesses to redesign customer service to be configured for mobile devices: barcode readers, Interactive Video and Voice Response (IVVR), outbound and location-based services. Young consumers want to contact organisations through mobile devices whether by voice, text, email, images, video, location-based services or whatever contemporary technology channels come next.

4. Use all channels: These generations’ ability to use a range of technology means multichannel will be demanded
These two generations make more phone calls, send more texts and use instant messaging than other generations. Teenagers confess to being obsessed by technology; they move from one technology to another on a daily basis and their choice of technology changes as they go through different life stages. Different channels offer different advantages, and organisations need to offer a wide range of contact channels to meet expectations.

5. Proactivity expected: “Do stuff for me, as long as it’s not selling”
More media choices and more competitors make it harder to gain customers attention and engagement. Proactive service engages young customers. They expect that businesses will do things for them, and there is a strong interest in organisations that make life easy for them. Multi-tasking on gadgets gives them a greater ability to process and handle incoming proactive messages.

6. Transactional customers: Price is the biggest factor and both generations shop around. Generation Y are likely to job-hop too
As customers, they do not stay loyal to brands – even ones they like.

As employees, despite the best efforts of Human Resource departments, agent retention of Generation Y is, on average, low. They are not typically long-term, loyal employees. Recession may ease attrition, but it will not solve low motivation. The challenge for employers is in motivating this generation.

7. Credit crunch compromise: Open to new technologies – if they work
Businesses are responding to the credit crunch with better planning, a flexible workforce and more self-service. IVR/Voice self-service is preferred by consumers to off shoring when efficiency is the goal. Generation Y is more open to voice biometrics if it works. Cost-cutting approaches involving new technologies are more likely to succeed with these generations as they are more competent in using this kind of technology than other generations are.

8. Faster service and knowledgeable staff: Speed and knowledge are key
Both generations are impatient and expect immediate gratification. They are not particularly interested in interacting with private companies or public sector organizations, but they want speedy resolutions when they do. Knowledgeable and empowered staff impress these generations. Given them access to knowledgeable employees and tailoring technology, process and training to provide quick service delivery will satisfy these customers.