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If You Build It, They'll Hopefully Keep Coming

Tips of the trade to reel in a millennial customer base


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Every business owner dreams of having an empty product warehouse because what they're selling is so in-demand – or they long for a calendar booked out months in advance. These are the end results of successful client building and retention, but how do we get those initial clients, and keep them, in this ever-shifting landscape? The adage of “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t seem to apply in this millennial-driven world. You need to build it in the right area, make it convenient and make it easy to use. The good news is they will come, if the business has a strong experiential online presence and dynamic search engine optimization.

In many businesses, word-of-mouth is the most important form of client building, but in recent years, online reviews have moved up the totem pole in importance. It might seem tedious to ask your already-loyal clients to post a review, but in order to get new clients, it's necessary to put you and your business wherever they are already looking – and the more, the better. Realself, Yelp, Facebook and Google are all game-changing platforms, no matter the industry.

It’s imperative to remember that millennials are interactive when it comes to shopping, dining, traveling and services. This generation thrives on connectedness: to people, to places and to values. They depend on the input of their social circles to help make decisions. Indeed, online reviews are often where they turn. A study conducted by the international research and consulting firm, Ipsos shows that millennials trust user-generated content 50 percent more than traditional media. They tend to form bonds and, subsequently, feel invested in brands they believe in, and then share with their friends. Many are bloggers, some have YouTube channels, Snapchat, Instagram and Foursquare Swarm for every location. Influencers also play a role in this process. Businesses must adapt to their social sensibilities and realign engagement techniques if they want any piece of their annual $200 billion consumer pie.

In order to retain this coveted group, many of the time-honored customer service principles still reign supreme with some minor tweaks. They still want impeccable service but without hovering sales staff. Millennials want to feel in control of their buying experience, so self-service options are always a plus. If interaction with a person is not needed they will avoid the inconvenience of it. Even when it comes to customer support, they will pick an online chat versus picking up the phone.

Ease and convenience draws them toward the web and mobile devices so the interactions they choose to have are very important. Developing authentic and genuine relationships based on trust, personalization and shared values is a high priority. Data shows that millennials will actually pay more for a product or service if the business’s values mesh with their own. As companies grow, the tendency is to become less personal to reach a larger segment of the population. Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers and this majority wants personalized services and a feeling of exclusivity.

Don't forget this age group is experiential. They want to enjoy the entire process of what they are doing, even if it’s everyday chores, and not just the end result. You should engage their senses. Even websites should feel like they’ve discovered something new. This is driven by the millennial acronym of FOMO – (fear of missing out).

Though 19-34-year-olds are shape-shifting the landscape of traditional business practices, business transactions need to cater to both the new and old schools of thought. Lots of people still want face-to-face customer service and confirmation calls with an actual person on the other end. Don’t be fooled though; the millennial mindset is wearing off on the older generation. Boomers continue to accept and are fluent in using technology to simplify and streamline their lives.

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