If you are going to add Millennial customers to your business, you need to be in the palm of their hands.
In the first part of this two-part series, I discussed how the emerging generation of cleaning customers is bringing a new set of expectations to the marketplace. In short, they are wired, demanding and impatient due to their experience with technology, society’s constant focus on convenience and messages about entitlement. But some firms have succeeded in getting their attention in spite of these challenges. So how can you and your organization connect effectively with a generation that lives online and expects you to anticipate their every need? Let’s talk tactics.

Point – Click – Shop – Purchase 
The process begins with a robust website. When seeking information, Millennials reach for a smart phone and a search engine before doing anything else. Most of us use Google, Chrome, Yahoo or Bing every day. For this generation, these applications are the lifeblood of data gathering. Looking for a restaurant? Searching for maternity clothes? Buying concert tickets? Need a new housekeeper? If you are going to add Millennial customers to your business, you need to be in the palm of their hands. 

Research indicates that those visiting websites spend an average of just three seconds scanning a page before clicking through to another on that site or clicking the back button and returning to the search results. This means you have three seconds to engage in such a way that you pique the person’s curiosity for more. Don’t believe me? Start taking note of the speed with which you navigate through search results and web pages. What engages you? Where do your eyes go first? How fast do you latch on to certain text, photos or special effects? What turns you off? You get the idea. Millennials are doing the same thing only with less patience. As you might imagine, an entire science has grown up around these efforts. While we don’t have the space to explore it here, I’ll cover a few of these essentials during my keynote at the ARCSI-CBT Disruptive Innovation Summit at the ARCSI Convention this November.

Clean Up and Expand Your SEO to Be Found Online
Another key to this process is search engine optimization. This means optimizing your site to ensure that the search engines not only find you but list you in the first couple of pages of search results. Most people, for instance, don’t just search with the words “cleaning services.” They are more specific such as “home cleaning services in Modesto, CA.” This means your website needs to be “optimized” for these search elements. If you use specific terms in the search phrase, such as “home” and “Modesto,” you increase your chances of showing up higher in the search results. If you’re the first in Modesto to do this, for instance, you might very well end up on the first page. 

Make Phone Consultations Optional with Online Scheduling
Successful business owners have discovered that all online promotion should lead back to a website that provides the information to close the customer without requiring a phone conversation. Sure, Millennials expect to spend time with those who come to the house for an initial meeting. But they have no desire to play telephone tag with someone in the office beforehand. online scheduling is the preferred method. Add to this a copy of your cleaning agreement, payment arrangements, photos of your staff, testimonials and a detailed overview of the services you provide, and you have the beginnings of a website that will draw in young customers.

With a robust website in place, it’s important to determine how young shoppers look for your services. This should begin with some market research. Survey young professionals in your area. What would they look for in a cleaning service? Most are happy to stop and chat in the mall, for instance, in return for a free Starbucks coupon or something similar. Search out local leaders who have contact with those in their twenties and thirties. Ask them for referrals to those who might be willing to share insights. Direct people to a simple, online survey. In return for answering five questions, you might enter them into a drawing for a nice dinner at a local hot spot. If you take a few minutes, chances are you can think of several more strategies for obtaining information about purchasing practices. Let all this data inform your promotional efforts.

Word-of-Mouth Flies Across Review Sites and Social Networks
Next, work at developing “street cred.” As bestselling author and über-marketer Seth Godin says, “pass-along is the new credibility.” Young shoppers turn to their friends for referrals. They consult social media sites for ideas. They read online reviews.  Of course, the term “friends” has wide-ranging meaning these days. Where the previous generation would call or e-mail a few of their contacts for referrals, digital natives post to Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and others. They check out services like Yelp and Angie’s list. Your active online presence is the key to a share of a digital native’s mind. 

This brings us to social networking. While it is easy to become overwhelmed by “must have” software applications, successful business owners find that activity on two or three sites is all it takes to remain connected with their target market. The key here is to be helpful rather than “salesy.” Post informative tweets that link back to articles on your website. Engage those who complain about cleaning services, regardless of whether they’re potential customers. Post testimonials as soon as you receive them. Congratulate people on the purchase of a new home. You get the idea. 

Maximize Instant Response Tools
Finally, respond quickly and in an engaging but to-the-point way. It’s certainly essential to have a phone number displayed prominently on your site. Millennial customers, however, will prefer online scheduling along with a live chat option. For more information about both of these, use the search terms “scheduling software” and “live chat software” to get started. While both of these applications will require some time to set up, you will find that the investment is worth it. Digital natives assume that every business does these things. If you don’t, they’ll assume your service is behind the times in other ways. 

Once they have engaged with you, remember to do the best you can to anticipate their needs. This may mean making sales calls on their time not yours, for instance. Millennials are not “9 to 5” workers and neither are the businesses they choose. Arrive prepared to answer their pointed questions and be up-front with costs and fees. You may be standing in front of them, but your competitor is only a few clicks away. 

See you at the ARCSI-CBT Disruptive Innovation Summit at the ARCSI Convention this November in Orlando.

Robert W. Wendover is Director of the Center for Generational Studies. He will be keynoting the ARCSI-CBT Disruptive Innovation Summit at the ARCSI Convention this November in Orlando.