Telcos Need to Rethink Customer Service for Generation Y

by Jeff Wiener on September 11, 2015

For years I’ve committed myself and my company to providing the best customer service possible, always pursuing unsurpassed customer satisfaction for all of Digitcom’s clients. By promising guaranteed prompt service (no waiting on the phone for hours) and providing industry leading response times, I’ve spared no expense in creating an environment where the customer comes first.

Granted I still have a great deal to learn, as both Digitcom and customer expectations of our company continue to grow and evolve, but I’ve always felt that in an increasingly digital world, the human touch is something that will never go out of style in customer service. But it turns out my ideas of what exceptional customer service means might be fading into the past, replaced by new ways of engaging and supporting the next generation of clients.

With in mind, Digitcom now stands on the cusp of a radical paradigm shift in customer service, one that will undoubtedly soon force me (and everyone else) to rethink my approach to customer satisfaction. It’s customer service for Generation Y, and it’s such a significant departure from everything I’ve always thought…well it’s going to take some getting used to.

Now there’s no question that the customer needs of each generation are different, thus I have no shame in admitting that when looking toward the forthcoming service needs of the Millennial generation, it all seems foreign and confusing…and I used to think I was so with it.

For those not familiar with the UK telecom market, Giffgaff is a perfect example of what the future of Generation Y customer service will look like. Giffgaff is a MVNO that operates on the O2 UK wireless network, a no-frills, low-cost brand owned by Telefonica. What’s unique about this no-frills subsidiary is that it’s uniquely positioned as a Millennial-friendly company, and I can’t stress that enough.

You see, for the most part Generation Y considers itself to be exceptionally tech savvy, so if a problem arises Millennials, without generalizing too much, figure they already know more than tech support anyway, thus if they can’t figure it out themselves they are more likely to find answers through social networking or their online community.

In response, Giffgaff has abandoned all traditional forms of customer service, and in fact has no service phone lines available at all. Complaints, questions, and problems are exclusively managed by agents via an online message board, thus responses aren’t immediate (resolution can take up to 24 hours). In addition to the experts, though, community members are actively encouraged to participate in the resolution process as well, helping others solve problems if they happen to have the answer. It’s a social approach to customer service, and it’s the wave of the future.

Now I’ll admit my first response to all this is that this might work on a small scale, with local MVNOs or the like, but there’s no way this will replace traditional customer service. I mean, I think this sort of approach to customer service would drive me crazy if I were the customer. But that’s the point, it’s not for me, and it’s not for my parent’s generation, this is for a select group of people, Generation Y, and kudos to those smaller mobile operators for finding ways to deliver the right product/service to the right customer.

All that to say, for any company to deliver effective customer service the key will need to be a diversified approach. Sure it’s great Digitcom guarantees your call will be answered in two rings, but what if phones aren’t for you? It’s why we provide a number of different communication channels, and it’s a lesson telcos are quickly learning, many offering segmented brands that focus on particular demographics. Soon, however, we’ll all need to rethink our approach to customer service, realizing that Millennials are their own unique generation, and what worked for our parents and what worked for us may not work for them.

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