May 22, 2015

Nothing is sacred, just give me better customer service

Eva Olsson

Industry developer, Tieto

I want my one-of-a-kind personalized t-shirt, and I want it NOW! If I don’t get it instantly you will hear about it on Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram and Snapchat if I’m really annoyed!

Welcome to the Millennial Generation, or Generation Y, dear retailers.

We are demanding, we want everything the instant we push the buy button on your e-commerce platform and if we are unhappy with your product, or the way you treat us as customers, the whole world will know about it in seconds.

At the same time my generation isn't overly concerned about divulging personal information so that you can improve our customer experience. I know you can already find my search history on your website. You know where I live, my shopping patterns and probably what I ate for breakfast this morning. You even know what music I listened to on the subway. And to be honest, I don't know if I really care. As long as you do something worthwhile with the data and in the end give me a better customer experience when I'm shopping on your site, or visit your physical store, I guess I'm ok with it.

This is a rift between the younger and the older generations. While our parents are much more private, we are willing to give away our personal information and trust bigger corporations to handle our personal data. As you probably have guessed by now the younger generations are much more willing to share their personal information on the Internet. At the same time a survey by Tieto Sweden shows that in 2011, 14% of the population was worried about how much big companies knew about them; by 2014, that number had risen to 20%.

This suggests that while people are more willing to give away information about themselves they still don't trust corporations to handle this data properly, which makes the equation much harder for retailers and big companies. Consumers are willing to accept some intrusions into their privacy, and at the same time they are running from other encroachments as fast as possible. There is a fine line that's very easy to cross and retailers risk ending up on the wrong side if they are not careful. These two coexisting, yet contradictory trends, are forcing many businesses to ask themselves some difficult questions: What's the way forward? How do we handle customer data responsibly? At what point are we crossing the creepy line? And how will our customers react?

As an IT consultant I advise firms to be humble, listen to customers and maintain a balances long as necessary (while always remaining on the right side of the creepy line).

Speaking as a Millennial, I would advise firms to not only cross the line, but jump over it (and use the data in a smart way to give me a better experience)! Do whatever you need to do because I still haven't received my t-shirt, and I have been waiting for almost 2 hours now! And you probably know that I'm at work right now!

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