While consumers overall recently voted L.L.Bean the best in customer service, if you ask a Millennial, he or she will likely disagree. New analysis from Prosper’s Customer Service Champions ranking reveals a vast disparity between two of the most divergent generations, Millennials (born 1983-1997) and Boomers (born 1946-1964), when it comes to the retailers they elevate to customer service excellence.
First, let’s take a look at Millennials’ choices. This generation crowned online giant Amazon.com as their Customer Service Champion, followed by Victoria’s Secret, Best Buy, Nordstrom, and Macy’s. As an online leader and de facto search engine for many, Amazon’s top position among that this tech-savvy generation should come as no surprise. Add to that the Amazon Prime membership program, which is most heavily concentrated in young customers – nearly two out of five members are under the age of 35 – and Amazon’s got a recipe for loyalty among the Millennial generation that few retailers have been able to successfully copy.
What’s interesting about Millennials’ other top picks is that they are characterized by strong omnichannel initiatives, key among this digitally influenced generation. Victoria’s Secret maintains a storied presence via its brick-and-mortar shops and catalogs and has successfully extended this experience through its online and mobile extensions. Best Buy has made concerted efforts in the past few years to combat showrooming within the electronics category, a status product group among young shoppers, ramping up service and price matching capabilities across all of its channels. Nordstrom and Macy’s have not hidden their strategies to integrate in-store and digital shopping experiences in order to court Millennial shoppers. However, it should be noted that the point spread is wider between Nordstrom (#4) and Macy’s (#5) than Macy’s (#5) and Kohl’s (#6), so it appears that Nordstrom’s efforts have been more fruitful among this group than Macy’s.
Nordstrom, along with Amazon, are the two retailers that appear in both Millennials’ and Boomers’ top five Champions. Overall, Boomers’ top two choices, L.L.Bean and Amazon, mimicked the status quo, while Kohl’s, JC Penney, and Nordstrom followed. Like Nordstrom, L.L.Bean offers shoppers a legendary customer service experience; Kohl’s and JC Penney, of course, proffer those deep discounts on familiar brands that excite Boomer shoppers. Amazon’s inclusion as a very strong second choice among Boomers is perhaps indicative of the evolving shopping habits among these consumers and a more gradual acceptance of the digital shopping experience compared to their Millennial counterparts.
So do Millennials’ picks represent a sneak peek at what’s in store for retailing’s future? Perhaps. As the Millennial generation ages and their spending power and influence grow, it certainly stands to reason that these retailers could continue the positive relationship they’ve established with these shoppers – a proverbial leg-up on the competition. However, Millennials’ loyalty to brands and retailers can be fleeting, and as the digital landscape continues to evolve, there’ll always be a little room for disruption.