Guest Blogger

Generational stereotypes can shape our perception of how a certain demographic of the population works, shops, travels and lives. Marketers and customer experience leaders have leaned heavily on these stereotypes when identifying when and how to engage with consumers. The big problem with relying on generational stereotypes – it completely misses the complexity of today’s consumer preferences.

Arbitrarily inserting emojis into a chat conversation with a millennial shopper or assuming that a baby boomer will opt for email correspondence hurts more than it helps. So, what should brands be doing instead? The key customer service strategy in 2017 is to identify ways to personalize the customer experience. This type of initiative shows that the company is taking the time to invest in the customer experience, encouraging the customer to invest in the brand (via purchases, brand advocacy, etc.). In fact, Accenture recently found that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history.

Looking to leverage new advancements in AI, data analytics and virtual assistant technology, brands can ensure they offer a better customer experience by focusing on the following:

  • Don’t Assume or Predetermine How Customers Want to Communicate – Customers today want to connect with a brand in their preferred communication style, not one predetermined based on their age. This is where leveraging natural language processing (NLP) becomes critical. With NLP, consumers can ask a question in any form they prefer and still receive the right answer. For consumers, this is more valuable than emoji usage as it communicates that the chatbot and brand actually understand their needs. This technology also allows for a more efficient conversation, transforming contacting customer service from a chore to a brief daily activity.
  • Do Assume Your Customers Want to Access Your Brand Anywhere – No question, in today’s digital world there are a number of channels your customers want to connect on. Brands need to be careful about assuming that their customers will only reach out on certain channels. While they will mostly likely still be able to reach a large population of customers should a brand focus customer service resources on their website and Facebook, for example, they could also be shutting out a number of customers who prefer to connect a different way. This doesn’t just mean a poor customer experience, but also the loss of customers who weren’t able to connect in the first place.

Instead, brands can ensure customers receive support, regardless of channel, by capitalizing on an omnichannel strategy. The key here is to address both “old school” and “new school” channels. Don’t assume the 22-year-old shopper won’t want to connect via e-mail and that the 67-year old shopper won’t want to connect on Facebook. Leveraging AI, brands can ensure that all channels are maintained and offer consistent, up-to-date information.

  • Definitely Take the Time to Know Your Customers – When it comes to moving away from generational stereotypes and moving towards personalization, data analytics is critical. In today’s digital world, brands have the opportunity to pull volumes of data from digital conversations occurring across all of their channels. To create a successful data analytics initiative for customer experience, brands need to understand how to derive insights in real-time to make a significant impact.

Data insight enabled by AI and virtual assistant technology empowers brands to make big shifts to their customer experience as well as identify ways to personalize each individual engagement. Capturing data from customer interactions, brands can leverage new technologies to identify any bottlenecks or missing information in their current service offerings. Identifying these in real-time enables the brand to quickly adjust any issues immediately, reflecting changes in consumer behavior and showcasing that the brand is listening to customer needs. Taking personalization a step further, brands can also leverage AI-powered virtual assistants to offer a unique experience to frequent customers who log-in to the website. Leveraging data on the customer’s purchasing preferences or past selections, brands can offer an “Amazon-like” ease to the customer experience. This type of investment in consumers will again encourage them to make more of an investment in the brand.

Digital communication has created new opportunities for people to connect, engage and establish relationships with brands. However, when brands lean on generational stereotypes to interact with today’s consumers, they exhibit a tone-deafness that leads to lost sales and customers. Instead, by leveraging new customer experience technologies such as AI and virtual assistants, brands have the opportunity to redefine personalization, building intimate and meaningful connections with customers.

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