By Dr. William Oliver Hedgepeth
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics Management, American Public University
Millennials grew up in the age of the internet, not just when computers were a novelty or an office replacement for a typewriter. Millennials and the current computer social media culture are all laced together.
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Constant online shopping, 24/7/365 and fast home delivery, are commonplace to millennials. Texting is far more prevalent than actually talking on the phone. According to MapCommunications, “If there’s anything millennials hate, it’s getting sent to voicemail!”
Each generation, from children to the millennials to Baby Boomers and even those who are older, expects or demands customer service in different ways. But the millennials seem unique in the adult world of call center and automated customer service, which are fast becoming the corporate way of dealing with customer complaints and demands.
Millennials Gravitate Toward the Expanding Computer Technology of Smart Phones and AI
Millennials gravitate toward the expanding computer technology of smartphones and artificial intelligence (AI) for instant gratification from customer service providers. We do seem to be at a tipping point in customer service as more companies turn to AI in the form of robotic process automation, chat bots, and other technologies to efficiently provide an exceptional service experience.
However, incorporating more automated systems into customer service operations must be handled carefully. More isn’t always better, especially if it compromises the overall customer experience.
Companies are investing in customer service teams that specialize in using AI technology to better serve their buying public. Such advanced technology is helping customer service personal deal with some manual tasks that are often boring and repetitive. AI, robotics and digital devices are part of the office help desk for customer service personnel. This may mean fewer humans actually performing human-to-human interactions, but they now have more time to engage selected customers with unique issues.
An Allianz Global Assistance Study in 2017 found that “Millennials are also moving away from face-to-face contact with living humans faster than anyone else.” While this age group embraces the near-instant customer service of the retail world, some of them seem afraid that AI and robots will take their jobs. Are these millennials experiencing a Luddite moment greater than that of the baby boomers did?
Millennials and Grocery Store Robots
According to CompuCom, millennials “are looking for more convenient, secure and quick ways to shop and get their purchases home – whether it’s online, in-store or the combination in click-and-collect. To deliver a seamless omnichannel experience, retailers are increasingly looking to locker and vending technology.” Millennials are also using their smartphones to find the best buys in the stores, download coupons to save money, and find recipes.
This experience is called seamless omnichannel. The science of how the millennials think about buying has become a research field in the grocery business.
Millennials are also readily accepting the robots that are roaming the aisles of grocery stores, looking for fallen or spilled items and checking inventory on the shelves.
It appears that a new kind of Brave New World is emerging – a world where millennials see robots, digitization, and AI as transforming the workplace, the living space, and their social and cultural needs. But they do not see this technology replacing them at work.
Indeed, the aging workforce of Baby Boomers is being replaced by a new breed of workers who are comfortable with technology as part of their lives and careers.
Just image what today’s K-12 kids will be like in the next 10 to 20 years!
About the Author
Dr. William Oliver Hedgepeth is a full-time professor at American Public University (APU). He was program director of three academic programs: Reverse Logistics Management, Transportation and Logistics Management and Government Contracting. He was Chair of the Logistics Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Dr. Hedgepeth was the founding Director of the Army’s Artificial Intelligence Center for Logistics from 1985 to 1990, Fort Lee, Virginia.
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