George Wright, chief executive at Smart Communications, explains why a customer-centric approach is the key to communicating with millennials effectively
The millennial generation sets its own rules and nowhere is this more evident than in communications. With unprecedented access to media and digital technologies, millennials have strong views on how they want to receive enterprise communications and are developing their own distinctive style.
In a new InfoTrends report from Keypoint Intelligence, investigating customer communications within enterprise companies, millennials accounted for a considerable share of respondents’ customer base (33 per cent) and an even larger share of revenue percentage (41 per cent), highlighting that this demographic cannot be ignored. Financial institutions must embrace digital transformation to maintain customer loyalty in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
So, are the customer communication management (CCM) needs of millennials really that different to older demographics and how must communication strategies adapt to the needs of a new generation?
MILLENNIALS HAVE A UNIQUE COMMUNICATION STYLE
Millennials do have distinct communication preferences. They are happy to interact with financial services companies via multiple online and offline channels, but expect quick responses and a seamless brand experience. They are also more adept than older customers at holding multiple conversations simultaneously.
The Keypoint Intelligence research indicated millennials favour electronic channels, such as web portals, e-mail and mobile apps, which is creating an urgency within the financial services industry to digitise communications. A Legg Mason survey reveals almost half of UK millennials would rather conduct financial planning using a smartphone than in a face-to-face meeting and this preference for mobile interactions will be even more marked with up-and-coming generation Z.
BUT THERE’S NO SINGLE MILLENNIAL STRATEGY
The Keypoint Intelligence research outlined how 26 per cent of enterprises, using a specific strategy for communicating with millennials, are not necessarily employing the most effective solution, while the 45 per cent that varied their strategy, based on the purpose of the communication, were more likely to retain customer loyalty.
Financial services companies should vary their communication strategies based on the purpose of the message and individual preferences, not on demographic
According to the report, attempting to use a different communication strategy that is specifically designed for millennials will backfire. The data suggests that singling millennials out as a “different” demographic group will have a negative effect on churn rates, while varying the strategy based on the purpose of the communication will yield better results.
By employing a one-size-fits-all approach to millennial customers, financial services companies risk missing personal preferences that make customers unique and ignoring the millennial need to take ownership of communications. For instance, by relying too heavily on digital channels, enterprises may alienate the many millennial customers who still prefer printed communications.
CUSTOMER CENTRICITY HOLDS THE ANSWER
Financial services companies should vary their communication strategies based on the purpose of the message and individual preferences, not on demographic. They must take a customer-centric approach ensuring all communications are relevant, personalised, channel sensitive and timely. Millennial expectations of a seamless, personalised, channel-agnostic experience should be applied to the entire market and not restricted to a defined group.
Financial services companies increasingly rely on CCM systems to create, manage and deliver personalised messaging via the most appropriate channel. Many respondents to the Keypoint Intelligence research felt their CCM systems required improvement in areas such as mobile apps (57 per cent), design (53 per cent) and synchronisation across touchpoints (42 per cent). But rather than investing in on-premises solutions, enterprises are looking to cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) models. Cloud-based systems are quick and easy to implement, and are more agile with the potential to add functionality as necessary.
Although there are distinct trends in millennial communication preferences, communicating with this demographic does not require a unique strategy. Instead enterprises must focus on implementing advanced CCM systems that can deliver relevant, personalised interactions with all customers, based on their unique needs, through their individual choice of channel.
To find out why leading international financial services companies, such as Admiral, Saga Group and Aegon, rely on SmartCOMM™, the Smart Communications flagship product, to drive relevant, on-brand, personalised conversations with their customers please visit www.smartcommunications.com
Read about the latest trends and best practices by downloading The Total Economic Impact™ of the Smart Communications Solution, a study commissioned in April 2017 and conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Smart Communications https://www.smartcommunications.com/forrester-tei-study/