The Trick to Successful Engagement With Millennial Customers

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Social is key and so is content, but avoid corporate cliches when trying to engage with millennials.

One of the key topics of discussion at this month's Customer Experience Exchange for Retail was the hot topic of millennials, and in particularly how to best engage with them.

As the first true digital generation, traditional customer experience and marketing strategies might miss the target when trying to talk to this group of (potential) customers - so what is the best way to capture their attention?

SEE ALSO: 4 Ways to Create a Great Customer Experience For Millennials

At the strategy to action panel - Coping With a Millennial Customer Base in a Social Era - Ben Garter, Global Marketing Director at ecommerce website Not On The High Street, and Claire Hill, Director of Customer Service at fashion retailer JD Williams, provided some great insights into the topic.

Claire opened the discussion by saying what she has learnt from millennials is that it doesn't work trying to engage with them with corporate cliches. She added that if you reflect their language when communicating, they are very forgiving if something has gone wrong.

And what is the view from Not On The High Street? Ben explained that up until a year ago they didn't have a customer insight function but as one of the UK's fastest growing ecommerce companies, millennials are of course very important to them.

Not On The High Street now splits this generation into two segments: trend setters, who for example share trends on Pinterest and blogs, and trend followers, who are often influenced by celebrity styles.

Analysing these segments, the company has found that millennials want to talk to brands but on their own terms. Social is of course a vital channel and while Ben said that they use it from a customer service point of view, he also added that it's a great way of driving sales. Furthermore, he said that language needs to be contextual to what you're doing.

So, what are some ways in which companies can stand out?

Ben said that brand with purpose really matter to millennials. Purpose is very important to them, but it does need to be backed up. "An emotional connection is very important," Claire added.

Content is a great way to get this message across, but Ben warned that every brand is trying to claim its stake on content so it's important to stand out - and that's where purpose and the emotional connection comes in.

Ben said that millennials are bombarded with content and a lot of brands struggle with this, perhaps even contemplating whether they should hire a celebrity. But this generation doesn't want anything slick or cliche, which is why for Not On The High Street it's about their partners and the products they sell, which tell their own stories. Their in-house content producer captures real stories that are engaging and show the brand's purpose.

Ben gave a great example of a story with an emotional value attached to it: one of the companies listed on the website creates personalised bracelets with coordinates engraved into them. One of the customers was a soldier stationed in Afghanistan and the bracelet contains the coordinates of his home in Brighton.

However, speaking in the voice of the millennial, avoiding corporate cliches and creating emotional content with a purpose isn't the only thing you need to focus on when engaging with millennials, Ben warned.

"At the end of the day digital is just another channel," he explained. "This generation demands customer service."

It all comes back to delivering an excellent experience, regardless of which channel you're communicating through or who you are engaging with.