In today’s uber-connected society, with an incredibly fragmented attention span, engaging all of the senses is critical to seize sales for brands. Customer service is usually at the crux of closing the online sale, yet is often delivered to customers in a stale, one-dimensional way – either on the phone, or through an online chat. Neither method is very engaging and can often lead to more misunderstandings and frustration on both ends.

Learning from millennials

Companies can’t continue to operate like this. When you don’t engage shoppers in a meaningful way, it won’t translate into short-term sales and long-term customer loyalty.

Today consumers, especially the coveted millennials, are compiling and sharing photos and video, like an earlier generation collected LPs and bumper stickers, as a way to define and project their individual identities. They consume and share information quickly, whether through six-second Vine videos and .gifs or Snapchat. Their short attention spans and desire for instant gratification extends to how they expect to interact with brands and customer service departments.

To connect in a relevant way through customer service online, consider these tips.

1. Understand audience makeup

Know the age and gender of your audience and think about what will appeal to them. Identifying who is most likely to make online purchasing decisions can help you better understand how to tailor your message and approach.

For example, a study by Business Insider found individuals aged 18-34 are most likely to purchase through e-commerce with a pretty even split between men and women.* Think about what pop-culture trends are big right now and incorporate that into your interaction with them. For instance, discussing current pop-culture trends, like the latest shows such as what’s happening on the “Serial” podcast, “Making a Murderer” on Netflix, or even if they’ve seen “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in the theater recently is a great way to build a quick rapport with the individual you are helping.

2. Connect emotionally ASAP

In a study by McCombs School of Business Marketing, the research showed people relied heavily on emotions when making initial decisions or forming first impressions. However, when they are asked to justify that decision, they still use rational proof.

For example, in the case of the highly visual 18-34 year old demographic, you could use a text description. Or you could be a million times more effective by offering shoppers the ability to photograph an item and then be linked directly to a site to purchase it; the capability to upload a product image and be shown similar items; or simply the opportunity to view the shape and style of a product.*

3. Engage the senses

Tie to the natural interests of your target audience in ways that engage all their senses. For instance, highlight the altruistic benefits of purchasing or supporting your organization or connecting through humorous, engaging content on your site. Incorporate all types of visuals and sound in “snackable” content that will pique the interest of your target audience. Think “Buzzfeed” when selecting a style and tone in which to interact.

4. Use the right tools

While this may all make sense, you may be wondering how customer service representatives can actually use the information. First and foremost, they need the proper tools to help them break away from being a static, one-dimensional help desk so that they can better emotionally and visually engage with shoppers.

Provide your customer service department with the tools to make meaningful online connections, just like sales associates helping a customer in store. Incorporating a co-browsing solution, like that offered by Glance Networks, enables customer service reps to create true human-to-human experience through the screen.

For example, Glance’s Panorama technology allows agents to seamlessly switch between co-browsing, screen sharing, and agent video, and you can share a view via mobile, tablet, desktop, and more. This allows customers to not only receive the same type of help they would in a physical store, but it provides a multimedia experience millennials have become accustom to experiencing online.

Better tools means more freedom to go “off-script” and proactively work with a customer to problem solve based on what s/he is experiencing on the site. This results in having access to and the ability to share a lot more multi-sensory examples while helping a customer.

Visual engagement for the win

We live in an Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Vine-based society, using technology to ensure similar – or the same – ways to connect and help customers is natural, and will help humanize the online shopping experience, especially when problems arise and customer service is contacted.