Millennials are not perfect, and we do not have it all figured out.
Do we get tired of the constant barrage of generalized statements hurled our way? Absolutely! Who wouldn’t get tired of statements like: “They don’t know how good they have it,” or “They are entitled.” Or the ever present, “They don’t know what they want!” Don’t get me wrong, all generalizations are rooted in some element of truth, and these are no exception.
I am sure there are a lot of explanations as to why we are the way we are. Just like there are explanations for the nihilistic malaise of Generation X or the perpetual adolescence of Baby Boomers. But I am not here to talk about that—or to scream loudly until someone acknowledges me.
As a Millennial that has made a choice to have a career in customer service, I am fascinated by this burgeoning path for my age demographic.
A new career phenomenon
I have been very fortunate to be in a customer-facing role in virtually every job I have had since I left my undergrad. After finishing up my theatre degree (lol) I moved into environmental education and spent years working with public-facing environmental organizations. Eventually, I found my way to the tech sector and after three years, I became the Customer Support Manager for Clio.
Moving to Clio was the best career decision of my life, but I am not here to get into that. As a customer service leader, I am fascinated by my team’s journey. No matter who they are, they love their jobs and don’t seem to want to leave. If they do leave, it’s for another opportunity at the company which is usually still client-facing.
As far as I know, this is a new phenomenon. Sure, earlier generations landed in customer service careers, but it wasn’t necessarily by choice. I asked a Boomer about it and he told me “customer service jobs definitely existed in our time. But it wasn’t the same—it was a job you did when you didn’t have another option. No one wanted to be selling clothes or working in a restaurant. Everyone wanted a comfortable office job with a good pension that paid well. That was the priority.”
I asked a Boomer about it and he told me “customer service jobs definitely existed in our time. But it wasn’t the same—it was a job you did when you didn’t have another option.”
Why do Millennials love customer service?
Something happened with us Millennials, though—what is it? While I am still figuring it out, I do have a few observations on the topic. (Many inspired by talks, including this one by Simon Sinek.)
It can be broken down into two simple terms: instant gratification and constant learning.
The rise of the Millennial junkie
Think about it, we were basically raised by TV. Yes, we like to think we are the “last generation to play outside” but that’s not true. (#SorryNotSorry) Millennials: think back. Unless your parents were abnormally strict, you watched a lot of TV and were largely raised by it. And what happened in those hours of staring at the boob tube? We were overstimulated, we were bombarded, we were left wanting our next release of dopamine—like junkies. Don’t believe me? See it explained in a language all Millennials can understand. Did you watch it? Good! Now, tell me I am wrong. We were (and are) always looking for the next gratifying piece.
Information at our fingertips
Then came our thirst for knowledge and for information… to be quenched by the internet. Sure, dial-up was slow but as we grew up on the information highway and it matured with us, we found ourselves hooked on learning and on exposing ourselves to new worlds. We were the first generation to have information available to us on such a mass-scale. Even before the rise of the internet, I think we can remember the countless hours spent on the Encarta CD-ROMs on our ancient PCs. The coupling of information and the evolution of technology seems to have completely changed the way we function as a generation.
Instantly gratifying and full of learning… if only a career could offer us that.
Instant gratification + knowledge seeking = customer service
Luckily, there is a career that can offer us that, which is why Millennials are flocking to customer service.
Humans are emotional creatures and barring few exceptions, our emotions are some of the most important pieces of our humanity. Customer service professionals know what it’s like to appeal to a client's emotional needs and to feel the gratifying sensation when those needs are met.
Customer service professionals know what it’s like to appeal to a client's emotional needs and to feel the gratifying sensation when those needs are met.
This is very similar to that Friends episode where Phoebe realizes there’s no such thing as a good deed, and that every good deed is done so that we can feel better. There is no shame in that; why should there be? If we can make others happy and make ourselves happy in one go why wouldn’t we?
Most customer service jobs require an element of troubleshooting—or problem-solving on the end user’s behalf, so suddenly we are hitting both of the root needs we Millennial workers want: instant gratification and constant learning.
My staff deals with lawyers almost exclusively. These are some of the hardest people to satisfy in the professional world. Despite that fact, we continually have incredible reviews of our service.
Why? Because we’re Millennials! I’m 29 and I am considered “old” in my department. Our team members are young and enthusiastic. They are hungry. Most importantly, they are shaped by their upbringing and they are looking for their next good fix.
Our Millennial series is not just for Millennials. Everyone can gain insight on these important workplace and life issues. Topics such as finding a friend in feedback, moving up, while dressing down, and sweatworking impact us all, regardless of generation.
David Perry is the Customer Support Manager at Clio–Legal Practice Management Software. Armed with an acting degree and a love of beer and people, he is forging ahead in the world of customer service leadership. When not at Clio, he is fighting for craft beer consumer rights and reform in British Columbia as President of the Vancouver Branch of CAMRA BC, playing Ultimate with the Vancouver Ultimate League, or teaching ITF Taekwon-do. Find David on Twitter: @davidjp87.