Reaching Millennials Requires a Multi-Modal Approach

Opinion by Michael Boukadakis

July 2, 2014 – There's an eye-opening number of millennials in the United States, as many as 86 million, according to Barron's, making the segment vital to payments strategy.

Even the once dominant baby boomer generation has been eclipsed by this new force in the consumer mainstream. Beyond having different behaviors, attitudes and values than their elders, millennials also have different media consumption habits. For some, new media—on-demand access to content anytime, anywhere, on any digital device—is the only media. That supports a diverse digital approach when offering commerce or payments services to millennials.

These “digital natives” grew up with computers in their homes and new technology in their pockets. When Apple introduced the iPhone seven years ago, switching to a smartphone was a natural, seamless transition for their lifestyles. The rise of texting, apps, and mobile broadband has created a collective expectation for immediate information, and more so now than ever before, players in the payments industry have to meet consumers where they are with customer service. “If you build it, they will come” just won’t cut it amidst fierce competition to capture and keep patrons.

Traditional interactive voice response (IVR) alone is no longer enough to provide a superior customer care experience. Success comes from adding intelligence to the process to make the IVR experience highly personalized and multi-modal, just like the smartphones and tablets consumers have in hand on a daily basis. The future of customer service demands the integration of multiple interaction channels into the overall experience; flexibility to connect with next-generation-technology-dependent consumers how they want, when they want will become not only key to success, but also survival.

Each customer has different needs and preferences. One may need access to information; another may wish to complete a transaction; and still another may be encountering activation issues with which he or she needs technical assistance. With all of the above, predictive analytics are invaluable in helping organizations streamline customer service. Based on past behavior, data can be utilized to anticipate individual patrons’ needs to resolve issues faster, with less effort. Let’s say a customer experiences a failed mobile log-in and then calls the IVR; it should recognize that event and offer to help the customer.

Data analytics coupled with robust real-time reporting allows businesses to utilize predictive data to enhance the profitability of the caller experience. In addition to earning repeat sales thanks to positive customer experiences, upsells to higher value products or services and cross-sells to related products or services are more probable when buying opportunities are relevant to the customer’s unique needs. For instance, when a customer makes a “first use” fee based request, the system may advise him or her that this fee could be waived if the customer signs up for another account type. Dynamic decisioning increases incremental revenue from current customers by enabling a business to offer products and services based on individual customer data from CRM and other existing business systems, as well as historical offer acceptance data. For example, a loan customer with a history of late payments could be offered a debt protection program when calling to make a payment by phone—valuable, applicable and mutually beneficial for the customer and financial institution. Offers tailored to each customer’s unique profile can boost revenue and loyalty.

A big piece of the multi-modal pie, it’s increasingly clear that many consumers—especially millennials—prefer to handle things on their own first, and then, if necessary, get live assistance. Effective self-service options are the foundation for delivering a positive customer experience. But where do they fit in with the structure as a whole? An enterprise-wide policy management solution in which interaction channels interrelate is needed to optimize and adapt to changing customer dynamics in real-time. Self-service applications should allow access to live assistance, for example, in case a customer encounters issues with the self-service route, or just has a question. Sharing information across interaction channels and offering consumers multiple ways to find solutions will help prevent them from running into dead-ends.

Consumer expectations of the customer service experience have evolved along with the role technology plays in Americans’ lives. Voice processing infrastructure is still a cornerstone of top-notch customer service, but what’s available today is not your father’s IVR. Voice self-service can now adapt to customers’ individual needs in real-time and should be utilized as part of a strategic, multi-modal offering. For consumers to pledge their loyalty, nothing less will do than a quality customer service experience shaped by intelligent interactions.

Michael Boukadakis is the founder and chief executive officer of Enacomm.

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