Are Millennials taking advantage of retailers’ goodwill?

Discussion
Photo: RetailWire
Nov 28, 2018
Tom Ryan

Twenty-four percent of Millennials have falsely reported an unpleasant experience to a customer service department with the expectation of a receiving a discount or coupon, according to a survey from UJET.

The study’s findings show that Millennials are more eager than Gen-Xers (14 percent) and Baby Boomers (two percent) “to take advantage of a retailer’s goodwill efforts to make up for a bad experience.”

The survey of 1,500 U.S. consumers found that Millennials hold a dimmer view of customer service and the benefit of store associates while being much more open to complaining if service levels fall short.

Among the findings:

  • Sixty percent of Millennials said customer service is as important as quality and price, versus 67 percent of Gen-Xers and 71 percent of Boomers;
  • Forty-seven percent of Millennials say they would rather purchase the wrong item and later return it than speak to a store associate; 38 percent of Gen-Xers and only 18 percent of Boomers said the same;
  • Fifty-five percent of Millennials are more likely to write a negative review online if they’ve had a poor experience with a brand’s customer support department, compared to 38 percent of Boomers.

UJET said Millennials’ readiness to punish businesses that deliver poor experiences — whether through posting poor reviews or seeking discounts — points to a need for real-time communications for customer support across channels.

“The Millennial generation is changing the very nature of customer support,” according to the report. “Today’s smartphone and IoT-centric society has created a culture of immediate gratification and digital interactions; the explosion of on-demand services has driven a monumental change in consumer’s expectations for convenience, which extends beyond ease of purchase to customer service and support.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think Millennials are more apt to complain about customer service issues to gain discount or coupons versus other generational groups? Do you agree that Millennials are “changing the very nature” of customer service and support?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Every generation has complained in one way or another to get a better deal. The internet just made it easier. "
"Being nice to people and not being greedy is what we need to strive for, regardless of age!"
"...characterizing [Millennials] as eager to claim a discount on an undamaged product seems like a stretch. Who does that? Who brags about it?"

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14 Comments on "Are Millennials taking advantage of retailers’ goodwill?"


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Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

I’m unfamiliar with UJET, but I’ll concur that Millennials would rather interact with an app or a website than talk to a human. That said, characterizing them as eager to claim a discount on an undamaged product seems like a stretch. Who does that? Who brags about it?

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Who does that, indeed? It would be a nasty mark on our society if people falsely report discontent to gain something for free. Is this the dumbing down of America? I agree with reporting issues so that a business can improve its relationship with me, and do it all the time (a personal kaizen), but never do so with the intent of gaining an advantage.

Chris Buecker
BrainTrust

Definitely, yes. It is the “shared economy” generation and they frequently try to figure out the way they do not need to pay.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

I’m with Cathy – I don’t know that this means they are complaining to get discounts – they are (overgeneralizing) a more delicate and easily offended generation and often seem to lack the filters that some of us were brought up with. I’m saying this as gently as I can so I don’t offend my Millennial son, but sometimes they do need to get over themselves. That they often lack the ability to communicate face-to-face is disturbing and will indeed change how we think about customer service. Feedback kiosks, anyone?

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

The statistic about falsely complaining about a bad experience seems a bit odd. So too is the claim that Millennials hold a dimmer view of customer service when the data show it is relatively less important to them than it is to other generations.

Generally, I think all customers have become more demanding over time. We are spoiled for choice and have higher expectations. Most people are more careful with their money and so will complain if things are not to their satisfaction.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Here we go again, blaming Millennials for ruining something else. Every generation has complained in one way or another to get a better deal. The internet just made it easier.

The difference here again is technology. Growing up, Gen X and Baby Boomers’ choices were to return to the business, pick up the phone or write a letter. The more convenient we make something the more it will be used.

Ray Riley
BrainTrust

Agreed!

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

This is such a broad generalization. It is not just Millennials who are not satisfied with the level of customer service. Yes, even Generation X customers aren’t interested in interacting with a customer service agent, due to long wait times and antiquated policies/procedures.

A big part of the shared economy is the fact that you have to pay your way for space, to rent something, or for a service. So its such a big stretch to think that Millennials go out of their way to take advantage of retailers’ goodwill.

Customers across all generations are simply fed up with the level of customer service. The last few times I had a positive outcome is when I took my case to the social media battleground known as Twitter. Once I posted and tagged the company in question, the response was almost immediate. We should turn our attention to the company’s customer service organizations and see if their process is even working before blaming the Millennials again.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

I too have both a Millennial son and daughter and have observed their shopping behaviors. They certainly prefer to navigate and resolve any customer service issues electronically. When the process requires them to call and interact with a call center, their attitude and experience with that brand sours quickly. The expectation is that the system and process need to simply comply with their requests. As soon as that expectation breaks down, then the expectation turns into “what can the brand do to correct this inconvenience to my expectation.” This may be harsh but it has become the new order and much of this has been brought on by the retailers themselves as they make claims they may not be able to fulfill just to get the sale.

Dan Frechtling
BrainTrust

At first glance, this may appear to be driven by e-commerce penetration — online shopping and customer service is less personal and more likely to be exploited. But UJET and other studies show Millennials are brick-and-mortar shoppers just like older peers.

So this is really a function of different expectations around good service and conditioning around acceptable tactics to get the best deal.

There is a marketing lesson here. The survey sponsor touts real-time communications through smartphones. But there is more.

At the same time Millennials are more responsive to customer service “offers,” they are less responsive to traditional advertising than Boomers and Gen Xers. They are also more likely to switch between online and physical stores weekly, more likely to BOPIS, and more likely to hold a retail subscription service. These are good insights for customer service and digital channel strategies.

Anne Howe
BrainTrust

This research disturbs me. Yet sometimes I feel that the empowerment gained by complaining is a right of a free society. Ultimately, I’ve experienced that things turn out better through human-to-human interaction, so that’s both my default and advice. Being nice to people and not being greedy is what we need to strive for, regardless of age!

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

As the biggest proponent of ensuring marketers don’t lump all Millennials together, I can say, though, that this is one emerging aspect that a seeming majority of shoppers in that age group exhibit consistently. I certainly don’t want to accuse all Millennials of wanting something for nothing, however these and other survey data show some troubling findings.

Ken Silay
Guest

We can talk about technology and generations all we want, but the fundamental issue with false complaining is integrity. If we perceive that the buyer/complainer has no integrity, we as retailers exhibit no trust. Once the trust is broken the destructive cycle will spiral until we lose the customer. If there is no integrity or trust is that a bad thing?

Melody Appleton
Guest

We believe consumers across the generations now have expectations of great customer service. The bar was set high by the likes of Zappos. The data definitely show some Millennials use complaints as a way to get a discount. It would be interesting to dig deeper and see why they take this step and whether they would still do it if they realized it causes reputation damage to the company they’re manipulating. Whatever we think of that data, Millennials definitely have high expectations for customer service. They want to use digital channels to self-serve. They expect that a brand tracks their preferences and makes recommendations. And, growing up with the Internet, they expect fast results.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Every generation has complained in one way or another to get a better deal. The internet just made it easier. "
"Being nice to people and not being greedy is what we need to strive for, regardless of age!"
"...characterizing [Millennials] as eager to claim a discount on an undamaged product seems like a stretch. Who does that? Who brags about it?"

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