Saturday, January 22, 2011

Gen Y - Conspire with your customers to make things happen

I find myself writing regularly about Gen Y and even the emerging Gen Z behaviours. Perhaps it's because I make a practice of trying to remember what a flawed dude I was in many respects as I passed various birthdays - a thing I think other boomers should do before ranting about 'no good' generations.

Why am I cracking on about it again? It's because we had a recent experience in our business that reinforced my view that Gen Ys do care about their retirement money and other things financial, whether they're deferred benefits or not.  It's just that they don't put up with crap, pumped-up complexity that the government and financial services sector specialise in constructing to ensure customer relationships are made as difficult as possible.

The experience I speak of was an initiative to visit one of our contributing employers over three consecutive weeks. Members of our team literally sat in the staff canteen one day in each of those weeks so staff could walk up and talk about sorting out their super. They weren't looking for advice, just happy to get it organised - generally to consolidate their money in a single fund.

The point is that most of these staff worked in a call centre - a notoriously transient workforce whose frequency of job change is reflected in the number of super funds various employers stick their money into by default. Significantly, most of them are at the latter end of the Gen Y spectrum.

If they were disinterested in what was happening to their money, we'd have had no appointments through the online booking form and no walk-ups when we got out there. Yet our two guys were flat out on each of the three days, stamping paperwork on the spot to confirm IDs, helping people to complete the relevant rollover form etc.

You're mistaken if you think Gen Y's obsession with interactivity is just confined to the online space. They welcome the opportunity to interact face to face. As social rearcher, Mark McCrindle, has noted many times, this generation values advice from mentors, even though it might not readily be apparent. If your business cares about doing their business with this generation, it just needs to show it values their business (and their generally smaller accounts) and break down the barriers to doing it.

Yes, Gen Y is arguably addicted to instant gratification. But if that's the case, don't sit in the office and whinge about it, get off your butt and engage with your customers in their environment - whether in their home or workplace, or online. You might be surprised at the experience. They just want to know how to get things done quickly and easily. What's wrong with that?

If the IT boffins and adminstrators are telling you that systems won't allow you to breakdown barriers to customer satisfaction and engagement, don't believe them. Conspire with your customers to find other ways to make things happen for them.

These customers are no different to any others. If you can give them a leg up to getting what they want, you may just find the key to a lifelong association.

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