National Association of Call Centers

Research from Aspect Pinpoints Differences between Millennials and Other Generations

I consider myself a bit of an authority on millennials.  I raised two of them so I feel I have the inside track when it comes to understanding the psyche of the millennial generation.  Most of these self-congratulatory assumptions I made about myself and how well I understood millennials were recently confirmed by the results of a study conducted by Aspect in conjunction with Jason Dorsey, who calls himself the Gen Y Guy.

The results of the study were released during the SXSW conference in Austin, TX earlier this month.  As a former resident of Houston and a member of the generation that embraced outlaw, Americana and Texas music, I was familiar with the SXSW event as an alt-country, indie-music sort of affair, which is what it was back in 1987 when SXSW began and I was a carefree, millennial-free graduate student.

Since raising and paying for my millennials has kept me pretty much chained to my analyst desk for the past couple of decades, I lost track of the SXSW festival along with most other fun things to do. That’s why I was surprised to see the results of Aspect’s generational research presented at an event that I always associated with Robert Earl Keen.

Apparently SXSW is still a music event but it now includes a conference track covering technology, social issues, and politics while yet another track screened 145 feature films. Sounds like a multi-media extravaganza ideal for the short attention span that characterizes the millennial generation, and a perfect place to premiere the results of how millennials view and respond to customer service issues.

The first thing that struck me about the results of Aspect’s research was that the customer service experiences and expectations of the millennials were not significantly different than my own despite the generation gap between us. Like millennials, I have moved my business from one company to another due to poor service and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. I don’t mind solving a problem without talking to customer service and, in fact, have found myself in that position by default many times. Ever tried to get help from Adobe?

Where the results show we do differ significantly usually had to do with preferences. For example, 33 percent of millennial respondents indicated they would rather clean a toilet than speak to customer service. 26 percent said they would rather change a dirty diaper. I’m assuming that this is also the percentage of respondents who have never cleaned a toilet or changed a dirty diaper. I’ve done both many times throughout my life. Give me customer service every time.

36 percent of millennial respondents claimed that they would contact a company more frequently if they could text. This is where we really differ. I don’t see texting as a medium for solving complex problems or developing complete thoughts. I do text a lot, especially with my millennial daughters, but it’s just for quick questions or thoughts. Anything more complex and they go old school on me and, brace yourself, use their phones to call.

The survey also validated a lot of suspicions the industry as a whole harbors toward millennials. For example, the survey revealed that 77 percent of millennials believe that customer service should be available in a wide variety of channels. If you work in a contact center that doesn’t yet have an omni-channel communications strategy in place, this might be a good time to get busy.

Not surprisingly, the instant-gratification generation expects customer service to be fast and they have little patience for waiting in line. Many legacy companies today are at risk of losing business to newer companies that have built a “legendary customer service” reputation. Case in point: Zappos.

If you think the results of Aspect’s survey aren’t important enough to act upon, think again. The survey revealed that as consumers, millennials are poised to outspend every other generation by the year 2017. As the father of two millennials, I can vouch for that.

For more information on Aspect’s survey visit

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