Understanding the intricacies of customer identity is the linchpin of successful personalization in the contact center. If you’re looking to tailor customer service for different generations, then what follows will be particularly helpful.
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To start, your customer service teams need to be able to pinpoint messaging and communication methods that customers from every generation can relate to, internalize, and of course, remember.
Just as they hail from different generations, your customers have many different identities that factor into their buying practices and expectations of service.
Shifting consumption patterns 👉 The personalization of everything
Each generation has a distinct value set and circumstance that informs buying decisions and preferences for digital or traditional communication. Below we explore how customer service organizations can cater to different generations based on an understanding of their different values and buying motivations in order to offer more relevant, personalized support be it in marketing campaigns, service issues, and more.
Right now, there are four key generations of consumers milling about in the marketplace:
- Baby Boomers– born between 1946 and 1964
- Generation Xers – born between 1965 and 1980
- Millennials – born between 1981 and 1996
- Generation Zers – born between 1997 and 2012
Baby Boomers are anyone over the age 50. They’re the wealthiest generation of the four having accumulated twelve times the wealth of their Millennial children. The baby boomer generation was raised post World War II and during the Vietnam War. As a group, they are optimistic and straightforward.
As consumers, they outspend most other generations in every economic category. Raised by the Silent Generation that came of age during the Great Depression, their buying practices center around looking for discounts and bargains. Baby Boomers also like to network. You can expect reviews, both good and bad, from this generation of customers to spread like wildfire, particularly on social media channels like Facebook.
Baby Boomers have high expectations from anyone they do business with. They want answers fast, but they still rely on in-person and traditional means of transacting. They expect customer support teams to be available by phone 24/7 and want resolutions the first time they reach out.
The best customer service approaches for wowing this generation are:
- Make sure they know you value their time.
- Be solution oriented.
- Be ready to give them all of the information necessary before asking them to make a decision.
Generation Xers are anyone born in the 1970s up to 1980. They have a spending power of around $2.4 trillion and are more likely to hold college degrees than their Baby Boomer predecessors.
Gen Xers were shaped by the evolution of personal computers and the commercial availability of the internet. Interestingly, Gen X threads the needle between the old and the new in their buying habits. Since they represent a group of consumers that remember a time without digital advertising, social media, and smartphones, they respond equally to digital and traditional sales and marketing. Some of the hallmarks of a Gen X consumer is the way they value choice and independence when making purchases and deciding who to do business with.
When providing support for Gen Xers, offer it in a wide range of channels. They prefer:
- Informal digital communication (webchat, SMS).
- Speed and efficiency.
- Readily available web information.
- The ability to leave immediate feedback.
Millennials are the first generation to grow up with the internet. When Gen X was entering a newly digital workforce, Millennial children were dialing up their PCs and logging into AOL as the first group with the internet in their homes. As “digital natives,” Millennials have shaped how our modern society communicates. They’ve pioneered many new forms of connecting from social media to crowdfunding and even peer-to-peer payments and lending.
They are intuitive web and mobile users and are more comfortable with digital communication than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. On the whole, Millennials are extremely independent consumers, preferring to avoid the phone and choosing self-service models over in-person interactions more often than not. Buying practices are centered around experiences. Millennials also make consumer choices based on quality and image. They’re willing to pay a premium for higher quality products and experiences and are very thoughtful buyers.
According to McKinsey, Millennials already spend $1 trillion, and that spending power will increase as their income reaches $8.3 trillion by 2025 (versus $6.4 trillion for Gen Xers and $1.1 trillion for baby boomers).
Millennials expect businesses to be just as tech-savvy as they are. They expect customer service agents to:
- Give them information quickly.
- Provide a customized experience.
- Maintain a positive attitude.
More millennial customer service expectations
Millennials expect fast customer service. They prioritize speed and efficiency when it comes to evaluating an experience with an organization. They’re sensitive to negative experiences and are likely to share unfavorable reviews with their social networks. Millennials also enjoy personalization, even more so than their Gen Z counterparts.
As the first generation to be introduced to social media and living life on the internet, they’re comfortable with sharing personal details and anticipate that in doing so they’ll be more likely to be offered unique offers and services.
Generation Z is the first generation to not experience life without the internet. This means that from the earliest parts of their youth they were exposed to digital ads, social networks, and mobile everything.
A study done by McKinsey showed that Generation Z values individual expression and avoids labels. They are likely to mobilize for causes and relate to organizations in a pragmatic way.
Buying practices are heavily influenced by their peers, what’s trending on social media, and what is perceived to be ethical. They view purchasing as an expression of identity. Ethical concerns are of the highest priority when making decisions about which businesses they patronize.
When considering how to approach Generation Z from a customer service standpoint remember:
- Generation Z speaks the language of the internet. They are comfortable with all forms of digital communication. Omnichannel is a must.
- Phone calls are less of a taboo with this generation than Gen X or Millennials.
- As truth seekers Generation Z jumps at the chance to provide experiential information about your organization.
- Always put your best face forward or risk going viral.
- Make immediacy a priority.
- More comfortable with virtual agents and IVR
Why focus CX investments on Millennials & Generation Z?
Generation Z is the largest yet. Its oldest members are 24 years old while its youngest are just 9. The whole of the generation will reach adulthood in 2030.
One study projects that by 2030 Millennials and Gen Zers will outnumber Generation X by two million members. The oldest Millennials are now 40, reaching mid-career, and despite crippling education debt, they’re foregoing leases to make up the fastest-growing segment of mortgage seekers as of 2021.
As the largest and youngest generations with upward earning potential and increasing spending power, it is important for businesses to understand Millennial and Gen Z buying habits and customer service expectations.