Opinion

Why are these industries intimidating students with such shabby services?

4 min read

29 September 2015

The majority of students have been on the receiving end of fees that they were not meant to pay, and just a minority are challenging the businesses responsible. But as these companies will soon expect further businesses from millennials, why are they offering such poor treatment?

Research out yesterday revealed that almost eight out of ten students have encountered a problem with a company and lost money as a result.

Energy, property and telecoms firms proved to be the biggest culprits.

Around one in five of students living away from home has been overcharged for their gas or electricity bills with one in seven having paid bills from previous tenants in their student digs.

In all, 1.4m students are finding themselves around £240 worse of each year as a result but do they complain and ask for their money back?

No – only 25 per cent bothered to stand up to the companies concerned. Many were too embarrassed or feared intimidation.

There is a message here in these figures not just for energy and property firms but for all.

These customers are the millennials and given that they are students they represent the proportion most likely to go on to well-paid professional jobs in the future.

You can be sure that businesses will be keen to engage with them then chasing their hard-earned cash. 

So why wait? Why treat them shabbily now? 

Look at all the research and commentary on the millennial mindset – for them customer service is all. Brand loyalty does not exit for them – if you don’t measure up to their expectations today they won’t be around for tomorrow.

Read more on millennials:

They are used to supreme and instant customer service from giants such as Facebook. There at the touch of a button or a flick of the smartphone screen to log on to their Twitter page, to catch their product tutorials on You Tube or interact with other users on the company’s website.

These are your future customers and as a business you must try hard to understand what shapes them. Large and small companies alike need to engage with these consumers as soon as possible.

Are they talking about your brand or your business sector on Twitter? What can you learn from their thoughts about your or you rivals service?

Dig further and into the worlds of Instagram and WhatsApp. They may just be a jumble of letters to someone in their 40s but for this generation it is as common as ‘jumper for goalposts’ kickabouts till dusk.

Large organisations can hire their own millennials or data geniuses to dissect this information and build up a picture of their twenty something customer.

SMEs don’t really have the resources for that. It is down to the owner, managerial staff and employees to walk in a millennials shoes to truly understand what issues they are facing.

That doesn’t mean growing your best hipster beards, regrowing your 80s quiff or pretending to like Mumford & Sons – it means fully understanding the buying habits and social media habits of the millennial.

Reach out to them – undertake surveys, advertise outside nightclubs, devise enticing customer offers for them.

Just pay them the respect they deserve. Treat them well now when they are living on cold beans and oatcakes and they will reward you when their faces are more lined, their eyes are a bit baggier and they have cash to spend.