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Insight: tackling the millennial engagement challenge

Millennials can be a tough grouping with which to engage but it is vital that retailers succeed because this demographic is becoming increasingly valuable in the marketplace.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Insight: tackling the millennial engagement challenge

Millennials can be a tough grouping with which to engage but it is vital that retailers succeed because this demographic is becoming increasingly valuable in the marketplace.

In conjunction with systems provider Rocket, The Retail Bulletin sought to provide some help in this area through a roundtable – ‘Engaging Millennials in the Modern Workplace’.

It brought together executives from an array of companies including Crew Clothing, Metro Bank, Daylesford, Clintons, Yum, Ricardo, Ping Pong Restaurants and Benitos.

Moderator of the event Darren Williams, founder of DW Consulting, suggests that one of the dangers today is that millennials are becoming increasingly frustrated by the fact many companies have “cut labour to the bone” and have underinvested in their customer-facing systems including tills and call centre solutions. This has led to disappointing engagement with these companies.

There was recognition among the attendees that more flexible systems are needed, which are faster and provide more intuitiveness, but that this does not necessarily come down to large investments.

“The feeling in the room was of an acceptance of what cannot be changed so the focus must therefore be on looking at how certain things can be changed. This involves changing the way of working by challenging current practices. Legacy practices can slow things down and must not be allowed to disrupt customers in way that leads to disengage employees,” says Williams.

He cites call centre staff who have to rigidly stick to their – long-winded - scripts that all too often frustrate impatient customers and then leads to disillusioned employees. Part of the solution is to empower employees to make decisions that are ultimately to the benefit of the customer. This is likely to become increasingly important if labour cuts continue to impact on employee numbers in customer-facing positions.

The attendees agreed that there are often other areas within a business where expenditure can be cut rather than it automatically being shop floor employees and their systems that are hit first.

“There is often a lot of fat in other parts of the business with head offices and their big departments in ivory towers. But it is always front line staff who suffer and legacy systems that get fixed last,” says Williams.

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