Should You Be Treating Your Gen Y Customers Differently?

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There are a couple standard rules when it comes to interacting with customers: anticipate their needs, put them first when you can, and treat everyone with respect. But variations of the golden rule aside, should you be treating today's customers differently than you've treated customers in the past?

First of all, who is Gen Y?

Generation Y, or millennials, are defined as anyone born between the 1980s and early 2000s. They've been described as flexibility-loving, passion-driven, and constantly plugged in. Different than our Boomer customers: traditional, appreciating face-to-face contact, and exhibiting a just another cog-in-the-wheel mentality.

It only makes sense to treat your customers with different needs, differently.

Here's how to treat your Gen Y Customers:

Offer an online option.

If you want any promise of attracting millennial customers, you need to have an online option. Whether that be a website, blog, or online ordering capabilities. You also better make all of your online options mobile-friendly, not just because it'll help with SEO, but because mobile phones are now being used more than computers to search the internet. If, at this point, your business doesn't have a website (and recently a mobile site), you run a huge risk of losing out on customers, especially of the millennial variety. Not only will they be turned off by your lack of mobile efficiency, but, when given the choice, a millennial would prefer to complete a transaction from the comfort of their home. Just as in the workplace, millennials don't value face-time. If there's not an absolute need to come in, they don't see a point in wasting the time and gas. Offering a mobile ordering option for your service or product can definitely earn you some millennial customers.

Know that they can and will review you in the most public way possible.

According to this Forbes article on Millennial behavior, "33% of millennials rely mostly on blogs before they make a purchase, compared to fewer than 3% for TV news, magazines and books. Older generations rely more on traditional media, whereas millennials look to social media for an authentic look at what's going on in the world, especially content written by their peers whom they trust." They take to Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to look up and leave reviews. Restaurants used to just have to worry about food critics, retail stores only worried about secret shoppers, and theatres only worried about play reviewers when it came to impactful reviews to make or break their businesses. Today, everyone is a powerful reviewer, especially when it comes to millennials who know exactly where to go and what to say that will leave the biggest impact. Keep this in mind and continue to treat people with nothing but kindness and respect!

Make a big deal about your company's values.

Just as Micah Solomon notes in his article about the millennial consumer, "Millennials are a highly values-driven generation, specifically in terms of the values that authors Winograd and Hais call "civic" values: the values that relate to good citizenship. This can be attributed to their upbringing, say Winograd and Hais: While growing up, "young millennials were revered, praised, sheltered, befriended and carefully guided by their parents to lead well-structured lives based on adherence to clear and mutually agreed-upon rules. This has produced a generation of young people that is, by most measures, accomplished, self-confident, group-oriented and optimistic."" Let your customers know what your company values. Put it on your website, write it on your walls, let people know what you care about.