Surprising Study: Millenials Prefer Human Interaction Over Digital

By Elizabeth S. Mitchell Comment

Look at them communicating!

If you consider Millennials to be screen-addicted serial tweeters who only want to interact with brands in the digital sphere and avoid real human contact at all costs, you’re in good company.

But you’re also incorrect.

According Mattersight Corporation’s recent survey of over 1,000 millennials, many in this age group actually prefer person-to-person interactions over digital options in most situations. In fact, rather than feeling like an anonymous username on the other end of a screen, they want to feel a brand understands and respects them as individuals.

“Despite growing up in the digital age, Millennials haven’t abandoned person-to-person contact,” said Mattersight CEO Kelly Conway. “Contrary to popular belief, we found that most Millennials prefer to communicate in-person and over the phone because it allows them to have the most meaningful conversations.”

This trend toward efficiency and personal interaction applies not only to customer service situations, but to virtually all aspects of daily life. Here are the key takeaways:

  • At Work: 85 % of Millennials surveyed said that they prefer to meet and communicate in-person with coworkers. The next most preferred means of communication at work was a virtual tie between email and phone.
  • Social Interaction: Over half of the Millennials surveyed said that they prefer to communicate with friends and family in person, citing chemistry as an important characteristic of a quality conversation.
  • Brand Interaction: Contrary to what you may expect from the “Facebook Generation,” Mattersight found that only 1% (one percent!) of Millennials prefer to contact a brand on social media for customer service purposes. The majority would rather call a customer service line and talk to a living breathing human (even though frustrating past experiences sometimes deter them from doing so).

In fact, the study showed that Millenials are generally unimpressed with companies’ customer service; 85 percent have been disappointed by a company’s service in the past year.

When asked to describe a recent negative experience, one respondent said: 

“They didn’t offer an option to call and talk to someone. It was Web only, and my problem wasn’t featured among troubleshooting options.”

A familiar conundrum. In fact, just this morning we found ourselves frustrated by a brand’s lack of a customer service phone number, meaning what could have been resolved in a brief phone call will now likely be dragged out over a day or two via multiple emails.

UGH!

The findings of this study now present a challenge for brands wishing to attract and retain Millennial customers: while this generation loves its smart phones and social media, companies shouldn’t abandon person-to-person service in favor of digital-only options.

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