Businesses can reshape their future by adapting the workplace to attract and retain workers from the millennial generation.
Leverage the Millennial Mentality
Millennial workers encourage innovation and collaboration in ways that can challenge traditional workplaces. But enterprises that actively engage this generation report greater productivity and new approaches to overcoming business challenges.
The Millennial-minded customer wants you to listen. Simply filling out an online survey is not enough. Millennials not only want you to hear their opinions of your product, they want to be on your design team, tweak your supply chain, and possibly reorg your customer service division all in the name of helping you make and support a better product or service.
As disruptive and unorthodox as this thinking may be, forwardthinking companies that have come to understand this Millennial mindset say taking customer input to heart often does result in better products and services. Some industries such as consumer goods and retail are involving their customers in (often virtual) whiteboarding exercises and brainstorming sessions to develop designs, improve product feature sets, even create logos. Such crowdsourcing promotes stronger loyalty from a customer base with a sense of ownership that can spread marketing messages virally and build brand awareness.
While customer cocreation and crowdsourcing work with any engaged customer set, it's the Millennial consumer
who speaks up most and loudest.
“Millennials ... are more willing to join in this cocreation process because more than other [age] groups, they want to be a part of, rather than a recipient of, experiences,” says Robert Isherwood, senior vice president and CTO with advertising agency 22Squared, which has a workforce that is predominantly under 30. “So instead of thinking about how you can accommodate Millennials, think about how you can engage them. Millennialsand increasingly other customersexpect a high level of personalization, customization, and delivery across a selfservice platform. Present them with the full range of opportunities and the real issues or tradeoffs, and then engage them in constant cocreation of new solutions or products.”
This is easier said than done. A recent CIO Quick Pulse poll reveals that only 6 percent of the 121 respondent companies have processes in place to enable customer cocreation of products and services. Relatively simple steps such as establishing online communities for capturing customer feedback and sharing experiences have not been considered by 31 percent of respondents.
What's holding back companies from getting the customer involved? There is still a predominant culture in many organizations that doesn't value an individual's input unless that person is an expert or experienced in a particular fieldparticularly during the research and development process, says Vishal Anand, a director with Cognizant's Consumer Goods business unit.
“There has to be some sort of enhancement in the understanding of how crowdsourcing can help during
the R&D process,” says Anand. But even then,there aren't prescribed steps for taking advantage of customer input. Sifting through customer input,organizing it, implementing approved ideas, and recognizing contributors all require new processes
to make the most of the information collected.
Nonetheless, organizations that have experimented with customer cocreation say it's well worth the effort. With the right input, companies can revamp their business processes so that this input leads to differentiated products and services, better market penetration, and the establishment of a valuable channel for new product ideas and existing product
For more information, read the white paper Tapping the Elusive Millennial Mindset or visit www.cognizant.com/futureofwork.