This is a guest post by Danielle Geoffroy, Research Associate on the AD&D team who helps with our customer service and unified communications research.

Do you hear that swooshing sound of a tweet being sent in the middle of a Google Hangout? It’s faint, but strong, and it means they’re coming.  Generation Y—a generation raised entirely in a technology-driven world.  This new breed of consumers demands more from companies and government agencies, with particularly high expectations for friction-free customer experiences. They’re prepared with knowledge of your company, and your top competitors. In fact, they often have more information about you and your products than your own employees.

This new generation should matter to you, because by 2018, the millennials will surpass the spending power of baby boomers. Remember: there is a dollar value to every positive and negative Yelp review, tweet, and Facebook status they target at you. With so much information at consumer’s fingertips, there is some give with the take. People don’t want to retain all of the information they receive on a daily basis. Striking a balance between the knowledge of your customers, and the methods deployed by your customer support agents, will lead to an enjoyable service experience, and keep you far away from the dreaded viral video of a support request gone wrong.

Weigh the benefits of actionable programs that create opportunities for a guided service experience. Many customers prefer self-service over hopping on the phone with an agent; consider implementing an outlined path for common service requests.  People like the freedom to continue with daily activities, and self-service lets them move at their own pace of urgency.  For the more complex paths, use guidance to make customers’ self-service efforts more successful. Think of this as a training wheels experience and make the guidance available throughout the customer service journey. Additionally, through exposure to Apple’s Siri and Google’s OK Google, customers are increasingly getting comfortable with intelligent virtual assistants. Companies can now deploy virtual agents that can walk customers through the resolution to their issues.

Today’s businesses need to prepare for the generation of tomorrow, and that means knowing how to create a knock out customer service plan to ensure survival in the age of the digital customer. In our latest research, we identify three targeted methods that will help AD&D pros win, retain, and serve the new breed of customers:

  1. Be social with social. Customer service via social channels is a widely accepted reality; however many companies keep the responsibility to a small internal team. Consider deploying a social customer service program in your contact centers to handle the rising traffic of requests, complaints, and compliments.
  2. Anticipate known and unknown needs. Enable proactive notifications for often forgotten appointments or deadlines. Your customers will appreciate the extra noise if keeps them from missing the doctor appointment they booked 6 months in advance.
  3. Embedded service experiences. Implant the ability to reach a customer service rep in your customers’ current experiences, without disrupting their journey. Not only will customers get the service they need, embedded service reduces the risk of a churn.. Customers will have no reason to leave your mobile app, your game, or your online experience if they can access customer service from within those experiences.

Developing a new service experience? We want to hear about it. If you’re a Forrester client, book an inquiry or advisory with us for a more directed conversation.