Many studies have documented the attitude that millennials have toward customer service processes. Whether it’s an online chat, mobile banking transaction, or simply texting a food order, the non-essential transactions of their daily lives requires expedient service and response. Millennials want fast, efficient and reliable support, and they prefer digital self-service over a phone call.

In fact, the last thing that many millennials want to do is to contact a call center. Stories about the cable company and overseas tech support teams have, in many cases, created a culture of abstinence toward talking to a live human being. Why talk to someone when I can just chat or text? This perception of millennials seems to hold water in many cases. But are there certain instances where millennials prefer the personal touch over digital interactions?

Bloomberg/file photo

With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, healthcare has come to the forefront of the personalized customer experience. A recent study by MetLife, for example, reveals a growing opportunity for employers to help their businesses succeed by enriching the benefits experience for employees across all generations.

Also see:Zenefits fined $7M by California insurance regulator.”

In the study, nearly two-thirds of millennial employees indicated that, when it comes to understanding employee benefits, they valued a one-on-one consultation with a non-sales benefit expert more than any other resource. Surprisingly, millennials actually lead their generational counterparts (Gen X and boomers) in valuing the personal experience. In fact, 60% of millennials consult with their families and friends when learning about benefits, further indicating that the personal touch is favored, according to the study.

So, what does this contradicting picture of millennials tell us? Healthcare and related benefits have become increasingly complicated. Companies continue to use benefits as a differentiator in the marketplace to attract and retain employees, but the variety of plans and associated options cloud the understanding and value of these programs.

Get personal
How can you deliver the personal touch in a call center environment when millennials lack the patience and understanding of benefits in general? As vice president of the Employee Benefits Resource Center at Hodges-Mace, I have the pleasure of watching our team interact with millennial employees on a daily basis to support and explain a variety of benefit programs and solutions that our clients offer to their employees.

Because of the complexity and nuances of dealing with benefits, we narrow the focus of our sessions on four key factors to ensure a personal touch in all of our interactions:

1) Create awesome experiences. One of our core values is, “Create awesome experiences. Every customer. Every interaction. Every time.” Millennials expect competent and consistent service, which is why it is important to ensure that they interact with an experienced benefit specialist who understands their specific company benefits.

2) Create effortless experiences. Millennials want the facts — clear and concise, so they can walk away from the conversation with a full understating of their company’s benefits programs, no matter how complicated those programs may be. It makes sense. Technology streamlines information, therefore, a service provider should be able to turn complex benefit plans and concepts into easily consumable decision points.

3) Create and exceed expectations. Millennials have high standards as it relates to personal touch experiences. With the ability to integrate large amounts of employee data these days, it’s no wonder that they expect service providers “to know a lot about me before I call.” Therefore, whether we’re creating digital and self-service solutions for our customers, or delivering one-to-one phone conversations, it’s imperative that we create personalized experiences that exceed the employee’s expectations of a customer service organization.

4) Create customer appreciation and value. The purpose of creating a “benefits experience” is to deliver value and improve appreciation for benefits. Millennials are interested in benefits beyond just healthcare. How does their company enrich their lives? When employees leave an enrollment conversation, they should have an improved awareness of their company’s benefits philosophy and a greater sense for the value of their benefits beyond monetary compensation.

Regardless of generation — baby boomers, Gen X, or millennials, delivering a personal touch is essential when it comes to healthcare and benefits. Moreover, when a millennial chooses to make a phone call, they expect the interaction to deliver greater value than what a traditional call center provides and to meet their individual needs in a way that a digital-only experience will not.

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