How a multi-generational workforce can be the key to a killer CX strategy

Millennials: the very (buzz)word can strike fear into many a C-suite as it strives to develop a killer cx strategy for the next generation of consumers. Panels of experts at industry conferences still debate what a millennial-friendly customer experience strategy should include. Articles and blog posts across the web argue that millennials demand greater customer centricity and then go on to distil millennial consumers down to a short list of extremely generalised behaviours and expectations. This is all good, except that In reality, customer centricity doesn’t work this way.
Millennials *aren’t* the next generation. They’re the current generation, and though commentators will use various descriptors, it is important to note that the first millennials were considered to have been born between 1982-ish and 2000. Today, they are far closer to their fortieth birthday than their twenty-first. And that means millennials will soon inherit senior management roles as well.

If your management team already includes people aged in their mid-thirties, the millennials are right there amongst you. According to Deloitte, by 2025, millennials will make up three quarters of the Australian workforce. So maybe it’s time for businesses to stop treating millennials as some kind of baffling “other” that threatens to disrupt the norm, and instead embrace them *as* the norm.

Embracing the multi-generational workforce

Let’s assume you already know why CX is important. Instead, consider how a killer CX strategy needs to provide the best possible customer experience for the widest number of consumers – and that means your own personal perspective and assumptions may work against you.
But what if the decision-makers in your business aren’t representative of the consumers they want the CX strategy to please?
In most large organisations, it takes *time* for someone to work their way up through the ranks to fill those senior roles. Therefore, strategic decision-making can be heavily skewed by age (gender too, but that’s a whole other discussion).

Because of this, customer experience strategies intended to appeal to millennials may be developed and implemented by boomers and Gen Xers, driven by those same generic stereotypes and Barnum statements that seek to ascribe a single set of broadly-stated values, expectations and behaviours to everyone aged between 18 and 35.
This is despite the same organisation most likely already employing a large number of millennials in the same building. So why not ask them?
Well, that’s exactly what Vodafone did.

Closing the CX generation gap

In 2016, Vodafone APAC decided that, if it was to genuinely improve the experience of its customers, it needed to create greater cross-generational understanding throughout the business.
Ideas need to be conceived and decisions made in collaboration with those they were intended to target.
To this end, Vodafone began using its youngest talent to mentor its oldest. The telco giant created a sort of “buddy” system where the newest graduates mentor 200 senior Vodafone managers, sharing perspectives and bringing their ideas and expectations together.

This created opportunities for the younger millennials to suggest ideas and opportunities that the senior executives may never have otherwise come up with. The senior executives can then apply their experience and expertise to refine and develop these ideas into workable business strategies. Of course, the senior executives are also best placed to champion these ideas and make them happen as well.

Vodafone deliberately set out to close the generation gap inherent in its corporate management structures. However, changing work practices and the shift towards contingent workers also makes it easier to build talent pools with a greater diversity of ages and experiences, as well as genders and cultures, depending on the requirements of the project or strategy.
In short, if you’re developing a new customer experience strategy, make sure the project team reflects the customers you hope to reach.
And if you think you’ve cracked the perfect a killer cx strategy for millennials, don’t lose sight of the next big consumer group, Generation Z, a generation that is already turning 18.

Key Takeaways

  • A killer CX strategy needs to be designed with the current and next generation of consumers – and their behaviours – in mind.

  • Much of the current talk about business and customer experience strategy revolves around millennials, but they are already well-established as consumers *and* with the workforce.

  • By embracing the multi-generational workforce – and using the contingent workforce to provide additional diversity – businesses can replace assumption and guesswork with greater collaboration.

Customer experience strategy should constantly evolve. Learn about the key hallmarks of an effective CX strategy in A Short History of Customer Experience (CX).

Bridget Loudon
Bridget is an accomplished entrepreneur, strategy consultant and private equity professional with a track record for success and a passion for change. Bridget has lived, worked and/or studied in Australia, Ireland, Canada, France, Hong Kong and the United States.

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