Millennials (those approximately 23-38 years old in 2019) have been forcing businesses in every industry to rethink the way we engage and interact with our customers. As the largest segment of the population (83 million of them per the Census) in American History they have been a key catalyst for the monumental physical-to-digital shift in commerce that has been occurring for the last decade-and-a-half. And while their sheer numbers (they outnumber Baby Boombers by 8 million) are reason enough to pay careful attention, it is their decidedly different expectations of engagement that are altering how businesses operate.
Raised in the Internet Age, Millennials represent an unprecedented generation of digital influence and interaction at every level of society. Instead of the morning newspaper, they consume information in real-time, through social media, messenger tools and a 24/7 news cycle. A trip to the mall has been replaced by easy browsing on Amazon. Inventions thought to be Sci-Fi pipedreams by their parents, like video calling, are now almost dully commonplace and occur on a phone that fits in our pockets!
As a result, these influencers are distinctly digital and their preferences are now driving the way more and more of us conduct everyday business.
But it’s 2019, and we know all of this by now! It’s time to actively accommodate millennial preferences. In doing so, billers can adapt their operations and implement programs that enhance interactions to create mutually beneficial relationships with them and future generations.
Here are three quick tips to help better serve Millennial customers and improve your payment processing operations:
Engage and Serve Digitally
Millennials are accustomed to making social and commercial transactions through a number of electronic mediums. In order of preference, the top four channels Millennials use to engage with billers are:
- Mobile app
Notice the lack of “face-to-face” channels?
Acknowledging that Millennials are inclined to conduct their business in virtual spaces, all businesses need to prioritize an omni-channel, digital-centric customer experience consisting of the following:
- 24/7 Interactive Voice Response (IVR) for payments and account information
- Enrolled (login/password) and non-enrolled web payment capabilities
- Text and chat messaging, including text-to-pay
- Mobile-ready payment solutions (responsive web and mobile app)
- Social media as a servicing/troubleshooting channel
Doing this today is great business – it means happy, engaged customers and more payments, in-full, earlier in the bill cycle.
Deliver Relevant Push Alerts
In the minds of Millennials, engagement means having relevant information pushed to them rather than being required to actively find it on their own. Thankfully, this is much easier to do today. 98% of millennials own smartphones, which means that all four of their preferred interaction channels: text, email, mobile, web, and IVR, are within arm’s length pretty much at all times!
Account specific notifications like an upcoming payment reminder, the status of their account, or usage updates should be proactively sent to Millennials when the information is necessary and important to their standing with your business. 50% of Millennials look at their phone at least 50 time per day, so if you reach out to them over this medium, there is a strong likelihood you’ll earn their eyes.
But be careful – it is imperative that the privilege of an open line of communication with a customer is not abused. Your business should carefully consider the importance and relevance of every customer communication, as well as the frequency of message distribution. Also, ensure that the end-user can control and/or limit the message type and channel through which you can reach out to them. A customized experience makes the user feel empowered.
When done thoughtfully as suggested, outbound alerts can reduce time between payments and delinquency rates – greatly improving your customer’s experience and your bottom line. This strategy is particularly effective with Millennials but these options are often attractive to customers of other age groups as well.
Make Sure It’s Right AND Real-Time
Regardless of how your Millennial customers access their account information, it’s essential that data is accurate and updated. To a Millennial, posting a payment to your system is no different than posting a status update to social media…as soon as an action is taken, an immediate, corresponding notification is anticipated.
Noting this expectation, make sure all customer-facing systems have the most current and accurate information. It requires thoughtful integration between customer information, billing, and payment systems, but an operational ecosystem that reflects this dedication is becoming the standard of good business and will only benefit you in the long run.
To remain a competitive player in today’s market, each of these tips can better position you to successfully reach and serve this highly important demographic. Millennials are no longer the next generation of bill payers. They are today’s bill payers! Their payment preferences are no longer “the next big thing.” They are today’s expectation.