When it comes to customer service and Millennial shoppers, retailers need to step up their game, according to a recent survey from Conversion Research on behalf of Aspect Software and The Center for Generational Kinetics.

The research revealed that the Millennial demographic has higher customer-service expectations than it did three years ago. Moreover, all consumer demographics are defining “customer experience” as “customer service.” This presents a challenge in particular for specialty apparel retailers whose core shoppers in this demographic often switch loyalty.

The online survey had a sample size of 1,050, and found that 55 percent of Millennials “say that their customer-service expectations have increased over the last three years” and “more than half have stopped doing business with at least one company because of poor customer service in the past year,” the survey showed.

Moreover, the research found that about three out of four consumers surveyed “prefer to solve their customer-service issues on their own, setting the stage for big changes in the consumer-experience landscape,” said the authors of the study. They noted that 65 percent of all consumers say they “feel good about themselves and the company they are doing business with” when they tackle a problem on their own without help from a company’s customer-service team. With Millennials that percentage is 69.

The research also showed that customer experience is now being defined as customer service, with 76 percent of all demographics viewing “customer service as a true test of how much a company values them,” the authors noted.

The research follows more sullen news: In a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, overall spending on apparel and “related services” declined 7.6 percent from 2012 to 2013, the most recently revised annual period. This compares to a 0.2 percent decline from 2011 to 2012, and a 2.4 percent gain from 2010 to 2011.

The consumer expenditure report also showed that the average annual spending on apparel was $1,604 in 2013, which is down from 2010’s $1,700. The share of apparel spending in the most recent period represents about 3.1 percent of total household spending for an individual.

For U.S. consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 — where the bulk of Millennials fall — the share of spending on apparel is about 3.8 percent. The largest portion of expenditures for all groups is housing, which represents about 33.6 percent of average annual spending. Millennials are doling out more money on housing than other groups: 35.8 percent.

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