Millennials, also dubbed Generation Y, total around 14.6 million in the UK. For financial services providers, that is a lot of potential customers, indeed they are poised to become their largest and most influential customer group.
But, is there sufficient understanding about what makes Millennials tick? Critics have accused Millennials of being lazy and narcissistic and unwilling to show much loyalty to an employer, while others say they are opinionated and actively support what they believe in. They are also informed buyers, who will actively seek out brands they believe in.
One characteristic is clear – Millennials, who are typically aged between 18 and 34, tend to be comfortable with buying digitally and they have clear expectations about the types of firms they want to do business with.
Digital & Personal
And based on a recent survey, when it comes to an insurance claim, they want both to use technology but, if required, also access the personal touch. According to drainage and water mains specialist, Auger, the ideal medium for many Millennials to communicate is online chat – something that a growing number of insurers, brokers and other financial advisers are now offering.
Auger found 64% of 18-24 year-olds said they preferred using technology, with online chat most popular (31%) when logging onto a website for contact (17%) or using a mobile app (14%).
Meanwhile, for 25-34 year-olds there was also a high demand for technology amongst 60% of those questioned – with online chat top at (29%) followed by contact through a website (18%) and use of a mobile app (13%).
Still a place for the phone?
However, it did not find that Millennials wanted to avoid speaking in person to anyone, in fact, 37% of 18 to 24 year olds said they still wanted this option, if they had a claim, although this rose to a massive 76% for those aged 65 and over.
Still, more customers of all ages are likely to prefer live chat in the future, given that there is growing confidence in using technology and increasing dislike of automated, time-consuming and infuriating telephony systems.
So what the main advantages to online chat - and importantly what should risk managers watch out for?
- It is potentially a lot easier and faster for compliance staff to scan messages on live chat and to search for relevant words than having to listen to calls. But, live chat technology needs to be robust and there must be strict controls in terms of storage in addition to data being encrypted and readily accessible if transcripts are needed
- Live chat can allow for real-time document exchange but no sensitive information such as payment card details should be allowed in case of a data breach
- There is the opportunity to save on labour costs, but while live chat agents should be able to manage several conversations at once, there needs to be a thorough training programme to ensure they can do this compliantly
- Rules should be in place to ensure that the live chat system is only available during agreed times, by staff with permission and when supervised
- Live chat should allow for the human element when communicating with customers, but there needs to be a clear framework in terms of language used and what information is provided. Customers may well be asking for information or have questions on a similar theme and so firms can have set responses held online that they provide the customer with if relevant.
There is no doubt that live chat is becoming the preferred way for Millennials to contact businesses – they see it as being more efficient, as saving time and suiting those who want to text on the go. There are business advantages too, but it is only part of the service proposition that demanding Millennials want and its provision must be carefully monitored to ensure it meets regulatory as well as customer requirements.