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Why all the talk of ‘Millennials’ is nonsense

If you want to really wind me up there is an easy way to do this... mention the word ‘Millennials’. As those of you who read my articles will know, I believe very strongly that the concept of segmentation is a thing of the past and that the majority of organisations who run to the ‘segmentation’ model, do so because they do not understand their customers in anywhere near enough detail to serve them personally, they are not moving with the agility required by an adaptive and progressive organisation and they have failed to implement technologies which give insightful, business and customer oriented data that informs their decision making.

So what is a Millennial? I am told it is someone who likes technology, sport, the latest trends, who is into social media, who loves music, fashion, design and art. Someone who strives to make an individual and personal statement, searches out new things, is adventurous, is keen to learn and understand more, and most of all uses technology. Please pause for a moment and consider if this is you? Or at least if some of this is you? It is most certainly me, and I am 49 years old - not born in the millennium, but in the swinging 60’s.

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Once again, organisations are falling into the old habit of pigeon holing their customers, making them fit into a category or segment so they can feed them cookie cutter solutions that ‘kind of fit’ their needs, but do not fully fit their needs. Why? Because they do not understand their customers in anywhere near enough detail to make informed decisions. And there is no excuse for that. In my recent article, ‘How to take the guesswork out of winning’, I mentioned how data and analytics are powering the new world order. How ‘data is the new oil’ and how successful organisations are speaking to a segment of one and not a segment of many (as they did in the past).

The facts about Millennials

Here are a number of facts about Millennials. They:

  • Use a mobile phone - so to billions of others including my 80 year old father

  • Like great design - great design appeals to anyone, not just young people

  • Enjoy sport - don’t we all

  • Love to explore - don’t we all

  • Like to learn - yes, we all like that too

  • Seek advice when making the big decisions - yes, just like all of us

  • Are into social media - Facebook as 1.86bn active users, and 1.23bn log on to Facebook every day

  • 30% of Facebook’s users are between 25 and 34 - that leaves 70% who aren’t

So, when I read big ‘shock, horror’ headlines that include (as if we didn’t already know it), ‘Millennials will visit bank branches in the future for advice’... seriously we will ALL visit bank branches for advice now and in the future - as we always have. When I read that ‘Millennials will use digital technology more for financial services’... really? We are already doing this and that trend will continue...

What I am not seeing are solutions, so I thought it would be helpful if I share:

10 tips for serving your customers better - with specific reference to banking:

  • Know your customer better - use analytics with propensity to understand what is actually happening in your business

  • Drive change by tapping data to make informed decisions about your services. Constantly refine your customer journey to maximise this insight

  • Remember, great design appeals to everyone

  • Keep digital simple at the front end, powerful and connected behind the scenes - the benchmark is set by Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple. If your service is not as easy to use as these, re-think

  • Be adaptive - in the new world order, right formats in the right locations will win

  • Rationalise your service model to understand how to best serve your customers through the channels you have

  • Assume nothing - data is the new oil

  • Remember, relationships matter. People like people. Learn from the Virgin model where they say - ‘if it costs me 10 cups of coffee to win you as a customer, I will give you 10 cups of coffee

  • Own a territory in your customers minds - make sure your brand is clearly articulated to customers and by staff and that your messages are being heard in the way you want them to be heard

  • Remember, all customers are different - avoid believing one size fits all

About the Author

Nicholas Griffin is Managing Director at Principle Global ( Information on how to contact Nick is in the footer of this web site.

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