More than half (55%) of Millennial consumers say that their customer service expectations have increased over the last three years, and more than half say they have stopped doing business with at least one company because of poor customer service in the past year, according to a study by Aspect Software, which found that nearly 3 out of 4 consumers prefer to solve their customer service issues on their own. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

The 'Aspect Consumer Experience Index' study examined the generational and technological divergence between consumer groups, and their perceptions and preferences toward customer service options, and concluded that companies must quickly address the customer engagement preferences of the Millennial demographic or risk losing their valuable custom.

The research noted that 65% of all consumers and 69% of Millennials say that they feel good about themselves and the company they are doing business with when they can resolve a problem without having to talk to the customer service department.

Among the key findings from the study:

  • Customer experience is increasingly defined by customer service: 76% of all generations view customer service as a "true test" of how much a company values them.
  • Nearly one third of consumers would rather clean a toilet than have to get through to and talk to a customer service agent.
  • 56% of Millennials moved their business from at least one company in the past year due to poor customer service.
  • Consumer preferences are not being addressed: 73% of consumers said that they should have the ability to solve most product and service issues on their own.
  • The biggest opportunity identified by the report is for companies to help customers help themselves, and let them do it using text and other digital channels: 65% of all generations and 69% of Millennials say that they feel really good about both the company and themselves when they are able to answer a question or solve a problem related to that company on their own.

"The average consumer interacts with customer service 65 times a year, yet they are increasingly underwhelmed with an experience that does not reflect consumers' digital and mobile preference nor their desire to resolve issues on their own," concluded Joe Gagnon, General Manager for Aspect's Cloud Solutions. "As Millennials are more 'experience-loyal' than 'brand-loyal,' consumer engagement is quickly becoming a far more influential factor in building positive brand perception. It's imperative that businesses adapt their customer service strategies to deliver an interaction strategy that addresses Millennial engagement preferences."

While companies need effective strategies for all generations, they can't afford to ignore the increasing buying power of Millennials; this generation is poised to outspend Baby Boomers by 2017.

And Millennials are not afraid to take their business elsewhere if left unsatisfied. The study suggests that companies willing to embrace integrated omni-channel support and self-service will have a competitive advantage over firms that choose to rely on traditional support channels and technologies.