The Rise of Generation C and its Implications for Customer Service

The Rise of Generation C and its Implications for Customer Service

Generation C (for Connected) is the name given to digital natives, the people who feel comfortable in the digital world, own lots of mobile devices, and tend to use at least two at once. Members of Generation C are better informed and more demanding, increasingly mobile, ubiquitously connected, and amazingly social. And they desire to be in control of their own lives.

Because their ranks are growing rapidly, the implications of Generation C on customer service are enormous. Trends include:

  • Channels are a thing of the past. Channels have always been an internal construct, but with Generation C, channels are meaningless. Generation C moves seamlessly from device to device, and they expect you to do the same. A conversation with customer service started in chat may move to Facebook and then to a phone call. Your customer service organization needs to provide a consistent experience across all channels and must be able to transition smoothly between them.
  • Bad news travels fast: In the good old days, an unhappy customer would tell ten friends. Today, a disgruntled customer won’t hesitate to tweet about a bad experience to her million (or more) followers. Keeping customers happy – especially the ones that influence large communities – is more important than ever.
  • Consumer in control: You are no longer the only one broadcasting messages about your brand. Generation C is having conversations about your brand that you cannot control – all over social media.

With Generation C, you need to know what’s going on at all times and be ready to move quickly to protect or enhance your brand. And you’ve got to convert all the information available to you – from outside and inside the enterprise – into purchases and transactions.

By Dennis DeGregor from The Business Value Exchange blog (15 September 2013) read more

My take:

That brands have lost control over what’s being said about them is nothing new… it’s a trend that was born with social networks. So today, just as smart individuals work hard to manage their online appearance to people they don’t know, or potentially wish to impress, so must smart businesses – just on a much larger scale.

‘Keeping customers happy – especially the ones that influence large communities – is more important than ever’. Indeed, these days it’s vital to reach out to these people (especially bloggers) and charm them, making them an essential part of the conversation about your destination. Every business and destination has to assume that it’s serving not only the individual on the other side of the counter, but potentially millions of that individual’s followers too. So keeping customers happy, and dealing with complaints across a wide range of channels in real time will take smart management and real effort. It’s also a 24/7 job; savvy hotels are already conversing with their own guests who tweet comments from their bed after check-in.

‘Your call is being held in a queue and will be answered shortly’  

This links nicely to the other assertion, that ‘channels are a thing of the past’. It’s true – the Gen C customer will have ever-less

Taken at 21:45 on 3 January 2014

Taken at 21:45 on 3 January 2014

respect for fusty opening hours of helplines or bureaucratic hurdles in claiming refunds or making complaints. Gen C is the first generation to have grown up permanently-connected, and so is much more comfortable with the idea of sharing what was previously regarded as personal data online. This means that customer conversations will increasingly take place through Twitter, Facebook or other social networks.

A good start on this road has been made by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, already famous for its social media marketing campaigns. Today the airline uses both Twitter and Facebook to chat directly with its customers about specific issues (via private messages), whether on flight prices, lost baggage or quirky requests, always promising to respond to questions within one hour. It offers this service 24 hours 7 days a week and in 10 languages. This helps to demonstrate how social media has helped remove the traditional limitations to customer service (basing a call centre in each region or country, limited opening hours per time zone).

As one commentator put it in response to the above article, the need to switch seamlessly across all channels becomes even more vital if Gen C form the largest part of your client base. So how long will it be before submitting baggage claims by post or phoning to book a flight will be regarded rather like paying for something by cheque – as a rather long-winded and quaint thing of the past?

What’s your take? What implications will the rise of Gen C have on customer service for businesses in the travel and tourism industry?

How to Attract the Millennial Hotel Guest

How to Attract the Millennial Hotel Guest

“Millennials,” the group covering those with birth years ranging from 1977 to 1995 and presents a dynamic opportunity for hotels to attract and retain a booming market that already represents one third of all hotel guests.

The two biggest questions for hotels are: How do you market to Gen Y? And, once you get them through the lobby doors, how do you meet or exceed their expectations?

When it comes to marketing strategies, Millenials are far more likely to take hotel advice from their peers than from traditional marketing channels. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are essential to capturing this demographic.

Does your hotel have a Facebook page and a Twitter handle? If not, you’re missing an opportunity to market to Gen Y. More likely than any other demographic to Tweet from check-in to check-out, encourage Gen Y guests to connect with you during their stay and share their travel experience with their circle of friends. When guests log-on to the hotel Wi-Fi, your splash screen should prominently feature your social media channels.

So what does Gen Y really want in a hotel? According to consultants “Y Partnership” this new generation of travelers expects:

  • Free Internet
  • Casual food available 24 hours
  • Self-service check-in/out
  • Hotels with individual personality and a distinctive ‘sense of place’
  • Multi-use lobbies that encourage guests to socialise

Read the full article from Skift.com here

My take:

So many accommodation providers still see Wifi as a lucrative revenue stream as opposed to a necessary free service. As the Skift article explains, tech-dependent young travellers won’t just expect Wifi for free, they’ll expect it to work seamlessly throughout the hotel on multiple devices at the same time. It’s surprising how many hotel and hostel chains still haven’t cottonned onto this fact yet. Avoid leaving your guests sitting in the street outside local coffee shops after dark, surfing off free wifi by offering it in-house and make up the revenue elsewhere in the bar or café.

You can also avoid competing with local eateries offering free wifi at all hours by offering your own ‘casual food’ 24 hours. This doesn’t mean employing a Michelin-starred chef throughout the night, it just means having casual snacks available when travellers who have the late-night munchies actually want them.

This ties in neatly with the use of social spaces. Chains like Generator Hostels and Meininger Hotels have understood this trend well and are applying it with imaginative effect, providing large open spaces for guests to play pool, computer games, strum a guitar or chat. Gen C might be connected 24/7 but that doesn’t mean they want to hide out in their hotel room!

Of all the recommendations, I think it’s the need to offer a ‘sense of place’ that is driving the most fascinating changes in hotel management and marketing in recent years. For decades, driven by the demands of the US hotel guest seeking familiarity in foreign climes, hotel chains went on a relentless march of installing the same plastic interiors and identikit menus. Today, hostels best placed to attract the young authentic experience-seeking traveller will offer local food, local music, art, drama, crafts and a whole host of other means of connecting the traveller to the destination before he/she’s even stepped out of the front door.

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