Business on my Mind
by Jeri Mae Rowley
The “Golden Rule” tells us to “do unto others as we would like to be done unto.” The Golden Rule works well in customer service only if we are serving people “just like us”. Many businesses today serve four distinct generations of customers. As service professionals, we need to understand and appreciate the outlook and preferences of each unique generation. Then, we can customize service delivery and follow the “Platinum Rule” which tells us to “do unto others as ‘they’ would like to be done unto!” Learn what it takes to truly “delight” the Veterans, Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennial Generations:
Veterans are often called the “Traditionalists”. These customers were born before roughly 1945, and are currently age 62 or older. People in this group grew up in a time when men worked and women were the primary child-care givers. Over 50% of the men in this group were in the military. And, because most are retired, they are willing to take the time to get to know you and what you have to offer. When serving customers from the Veteran generation:
- Use courteous language: “Please,” “Thank you,” “You are Welcome,” I apologize, “Mr.,” and “Mrs.”
- Avoid jargon: “No Problem,” “Yeah, sure,” and “You Guys.
- Create phone systems that immediately allow customers to speak with a person.
Boomers represent the huge demographic born from roughly 1946-1964 who create a “boom” as they travel through their lives because there are approximately 80 million of them. Baby Boomers are characterized as optimistic, competitive and idealistic. Boomers prefer a friendly, more casual relationship with the businesses they patronize. To delight a Boomer:
· Be personable and efficient.
· Take time to interact and establish rapport before getting down to business.
· Customers of this generation appreciate status programs and services that recognize their loyal patronage.
Gen Xers were born from approximately 1965-1980 are a much smaller generation of only 46 million—Gen Xers are often overlooked and overshadowed by the Baby Boomer generation. Gen Xers have a much more conservative economic outlook. They have grown up during times of recession and downsizing and were the first generation of latchkey kids and computer users.
As customers, they’re not as focused on the interpersonal part of the transaction and are comfortable with online transactions. If you are serving a Gen Xer, remember:
- Xers prefer competence to schmoozing.
- They are skeptical. Be prepared with facts and figures.
- Offer Xers choices and let them decide.
Millennials are the generation born from 1981 to the present (currently ages 30 and younger). With 76 million plus members, this generation is nearly as large as the Baby Boomers. They are comfortable being involved in multiple activities, multitasking and building a portfolio of activities and achievements. Two-thirds used a computer before they were five, and today they spend an average of eleven hours per week on-line. Millennial customers appreciate being appreciated.
· Be respectful. No one likes to be talked down to just because they’re young.
· Millennials are quickly bored by slow procedures and lines.
· Make your website—and your facility—inviting, interactive spaces.
The Platinum Rule of Customer Service reminds us that to delight customers, we need to: “Do Unto Customers as They Would Like to Be Done Unto.” Remember that each generation of your customers has its own unique mindset, work values and preferences. Each generation would like you to understand and honor how they want to be “done unto”.
Jeri Mae Rowley is a professional speaker, master trainer and saddle maker’s daughter who delights audiences with her unique brand of “Western Wit and Wisdom for the Workplace.™” Please visit her website: www.jerimaerowley.com