up the biggest corporation in the world, the boss remains the same.
It's the customer!"
~ Sam Walton, Walmart
It's the 'Gap Generation'......no, it's the Generation Gap.......no, it's just me.Working in Customer Service/Retail outlets like Hilton, Holiday Inn, Walgreens, etc.,
for over 15 years, I've seen all kinds of 'Gaps' : gaps in Communication, gaps in
Understanding, gaps in Attention Spans and gaps in relations between Customers and
those who serve them.
The excerpt below is from an email I received today and might interest you if you
are planning to get a raise or a promotion, start a business or just trying to stay cool
and be cool when working with persons who are younger, and quite possibly more
hip....and smarter. Because frankly, the future of your business rests in the hands of
Generation Y a.k.a. 'Echo Boomers'. For real ??
Here’s how to kick up your expectations of Gen Y and look at them as
an important part of your business instead of a hindrance............
1. Recognize their intelligence.
This is a group of young people that have been eager to learn. They grew up with
technology and it is an important part of them. While the boomers are still trying
to program their VCR, the “Y” generation is watching videos on their ipods that
they have 5,000 songs downloaded to. Harness their creativity and their knowledge
of technology to make needed changes to your business. Request their feedback when
trying to solve business problems as they may come to the table with unconventional
yet very smart solutions. Make sure that you acknowledge their accomplishments
publicly since this is a group that has grown up with trophies and certificates and
awards as feedback for a job well done.
2. Recognize their impatience.
Chester calls this group, “stimulus junkies” and that title makes sense. This is a group
of multi-taskers that can have an IM conversation with 8 people on their computer,
text message someone else on their cell-phone, while listening to their i-pod and
downing a burger and a Red Bull ! Lists don’t intimidate them so provide them with
enough work to keep them busy and don’t waste time in the explanation. Be direct and
to the point because that is how they have learned to communicate. When you hold
a meeting, stay to the point and use visuals if you can as they have been used to
stimulation during their learning processes.
3. Recognize what customer service means to them.
This is the area I believe businesses will struggle with the most. The Gen Y group
has been able to get whatever they want, whenever they want at lightning speed
and they don’t really see a need to be loyal to anyone. They have been used to
employees at Old Navy with headsets and roller skates to bring them whatever
they wanted while they were in the dressing room. They don’t think twice about
Googling a business and purchasing on the internet. To them, speed is a way of
life. My son has worked for for a number of years and his experience
with giving good customer service is getting the correct order into the hands of the
customer as quickly as possible.
If you want them to build a relationship with a customer, you are going to have
to explain “why” first, and then deal with the how. The Gen Y’s don’t make eye
contact very well because they tend to be focused on screens of all sizes and not
a human face. Maybe that is why only 55 % of that age group actually likes interacting
with the customer. When you are training, try using video or web training
or even role playing to explain exactly what your customer service should look like
to your customers.
But what about Gen Y customers and what they want as far as customer service?
It’s no different from your Gen Y employees. These “customers” will probably make
very little eye contact, probably engage in very little chit chat and want to get what they
want and get out of the store in a short period of time. They won’t really care if you ask
them about their day or what they are wearing or if they have been in the store before.
They will get frustrated very quickly if you don’t know the answer to their question
immediately and they can smell BS a mile away and they don’t need it or want it.
As you can see, it will be even more important to educate your Gen X and Baby Boomer
employees on how they should be greeting and treating this new customer instead of
making the assumption that they are cold, uncommunicative, young punks.
On the contrary, they are our future. This group of fresh faced young people will embrace
change, they will find the answers to curing AIDS and breast cancer, they will teach
society how to reject prejudices and they will demand ethical behavior in business and
those they choose to do business with.
It’s not your father’s customer service strategies anymore. Frankly, it’s not your father’s
business anymore. How will you change what you are doing to embrace the Gen Y’s in
your business as employees and as customers? The future of all of our businesses
rests on that answer.
~ an outstanding speaker, author and Executive Director of Merchandise Concepts,
located in St. Louis, Missouri.
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Gap Curvy denim trouser