Millennials and their successors, the Gen Zers, were raised or born surrounded by the internet, smart devices, and instant communication. With nearly all the world’s knowledge at their fingertips, it is no wonder younger generations are running thin on patience. So, spending time on a phone call or waiting on hold takes (a lot) of patience. But a shortage of patience is not the only reason Millennials are so phone call averse.
Understanding Millennials’ Phone Call Aversion
Millennials, or the people born between 1981 and 1996, now account for nearly 50% of the workforce. This number is estimated to jump to 75% by 2030. So, understanding their way of thinking and consumer habits is key to a business to stay afloat in the years to come.
Millennials and Gen Zers, for some reason, sense an existential dread to make or receive phone calls. They are even reluctant to answer the phone from unknown callers. Sometimes they may even put their family and friends on hold because they just don’t feel like picking up the phone.
Phone calls cause Millennials needless stress and for a handful of reasons.
Phone Calls Take too Much Time
Millennials have more important things to do than engaging with you in small talk before getting to the bottom of their request. They like fast, straightforward communication with almost instant results. This situation is mainly due to their addiction to instant gratification and/or constantly running late for everything because of being such master procrastinators.
Also, social media or an IM app allows them to send a quick message and get a quick response in return. Even e-mailing is preferable to taking phone calls in a Millennial’s mind due to its brevity. Also, these digital channels of communication don’t require the Millennial’s full attention, so they can do other things in between.
Phone Calls are Rude
Millennials are very keen on privacy and personal space, and they perceive an out-of-the-blue phone call as an invasion of both their privacy and said space. So, calling them without first texting or sending an e-mail can quickly frustrate them since you might disrupt their schedule and thus be perceived as intrusive and inconsiderate. Unlike their parents the ‘baby boomers,’ Millennials don’t embrace the always reachable mentality.
Phone Calls Give Millennials Anxiety
There’s a reason Millennials get cold feet when having to make or take a phone call: Talking to people on the phone triggers their anxiety. This anxiety is different from social anxiety since many Millennials have a wide circle of friends and are comfortable in most social situations. Their phone call anxiety is spurred by uncertainty.
When talking on the phone, you don’t know what the other person is thinking because you don’t have access to their non-verbal cues, aka body language. So, Millennials’ innate fear of being rejected because of what they say or think kicks in.
Also, because the Millennial doesn’t have access to the other person’s body language, which accounts for 70 to 93 percent of human-to-human communication, he orshe has to deal with the fear of being judged.
Written communication has a big advantage when it comes to mitigating the negative things other people might think about you: It gives you plenty of time to compose a message, edit out the mistakes, and re-read everything before hitting send.
On the phone, you don’t have the luxury of gathering your thoughts and correcting yourself, so you run a fairly big risk of saying something inappropriate that might get you judged or rejected. This makes an anxiety-prone Millennial even more anxious.
Businesses Need to Adapt to Their Younger Customers
Millennials abhor classic telephone communication. They also want quick replies to their queries, and they’d love you big time if you reached out through digital channels that are similar to their favorite form of communication: texting apps. E-mails are good, too, as 80% of marketers can confirm that e-mail engagement has increased over the last year, and so is social media (but don’t overdo it with social media since Millennials still love their personal space.)
There’s a reason why so many online businesses have recently switched to digital customer service. More and more websites feature friendly live chatbots ready to address all your queries and concerns 24/7, unlike a human agent that would be available only during working hours. This type of technology is on the liking of both Millennials and Gen Zers, who are the current and future consumers.
What is more, AI-powered chatbots like the increasingly popular Hoory have gone mainstream, which means that small- and medium-sized companies have access to them as well. AI chatbots shine bright because they can mimic the communication skills of a live person. And if there is something missing from their knowledge base, they can be easily trained to fill in the gaps even by non-IT people.
But without these digital channels, you risk leaving your anxiety-prone and personal space-loving Millennial base uncovered. And with a 48-hour response wait time to their queries, they’ll have plenty of room to Google and contact your closest competitor.
Millennials Can Be Engaged
Despite the proverbial hardship of engaging and keeping a Millennial engaged, more and more success stories show that it can be done. For instance, Switzerland’s largest insurer AXA now manages to handle more than 4,000 private messages every month with just four employees and an army of live chatbots, e-mails, and social media tools.
Sephora has seen an 11% increase in online reservations after adopting a Messenger assistant that automatically allows customers to choose the closest location to their home for a makeover. Thanks to the chatbot, appointments can be made in a few minutes, and in-store sales have been driven up as well.
And last but not least, American fashion giant Tommy Hilfiger reported that its clients spent 3.5 times more than usual immediately after the adoption of an AI chatbot that enabled them to buy the Tommy x Gigi [Hadid] collection fresh from the runway during fashion week.
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