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More than 85 percent of millennials have been disappointed by a company’s service and support in the past year, and nearly 50 percent of those respondents have had a disappointing experience in the past 30 days, according to a new survey of over 1,000 millennials from Mattersight. As millennials get closer to hitting their peak purchasing power, it’s time for companies to look beyond generational stereotypes, and start to learn more about how millennials prefer to communicate with brands.

Many assume that the millennial generation has become antisocial as a result of its reliance on smartphones and the Internet. The stereotype asserts that since individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 text, tweet and post so often, they must prefer these digital modes of communication over human interaction. In response to this assumption, many brands have funneled their resources into building social customer service platforms to field complaints, questions or requests via Facebook comments or tweets.

As forward thinking as this effort may seem, the new research shows that it may be misguided. Only one percent of survey respondents said that they would prefer to reach out to a brand on social media for customer service. Although many millennials use social media for personal use, research has shown that digital communication methods often encourage stunted linguistic styles and poor grammar, which leaves messages open for misinterpretation and makes social media a less than ideal space to solve an important, urgent problem.

Contrast social media with the stalwart component of customer communication: the call center. The voice of a brand, call centers often provide the only human interaction that consumers will have with a company.

The research shows that the number one preferred way for millennials to contact customer service is via phone, but they have high expectations for the quality and results from a phone call. So how can companies maximize the call center experience, thereby gaining positive sentiment from customers during this crucial interaction? Companies need to focus on the basics and arm their employees to provide fast and friendly service directly to their customers. When millennials were asked to reflect on a recent positive customer service experience and identify why it exceeded their expectations, the top responses in order of popularity were:

  1. They quickly understood my problem
  2. I received a personalized experience
  3. They provided overall fast service
  4. I felt valued
  5. They showed compassion

Companies that can quickly solve their clients’ issues – and provide a personalized experience – will have a leg-up in earning millennial loyalty as the generation reaches its peak purchasing power. And now is the time to do so – despite another common misconception that millennials aren’t brand loyal, studies have found that the majority of millennials with sticks with the brands they’re currently purchasing from.

Hopefully for millennials, the days of being painted as a group that is hiding behind its computer screens are over, and brands will provide their millennial customers with the opportunity to be seen, heard, and most importantly, to be understood and respected.