Millennials and Generation Z are very comfortable and proficient with technology and also have high expectations for how businesses use digital technology to interact with them.

Younger Generations Expect Digital-first Customer Service - Are You Ready?

It's part of the "circle of life" that the preferences of younger generations displace those of their elders. It's been happening since the advent of consumer choice. It happens naturally - younger consumers use their purchasing power to work their way into dominant positions in the consumer hierarchy, while older generations "age out." This isn't new.

What is new is the impact that rapid digital technology advances have had on younger age groups. "Digital native" Millennials and Generation Z have grown up in an ever-connected world of online shopping, social media, and all the world's information at their fingertips. Some don't know any other way.

Not only are Millennials and Generation Z very comfortable and proficient with technology, but they also have high expectations for how businesses use digital technology to interact with them. And, not surprising, some of these expectations are markedly different from older generations.

The 2019 NICE inContact Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark highlights many of these differences. We surveyed more than 2500 consumers in the US, the UK and Australia and the results show that Millennials and Generation Z are pushing businesses towards a digital-first omnichannel service model.

Millennials and Generation Z are adopting newer forms of communication at a higher rate than older generations, and they have a higher opinion of their value. For example, Millennials and Generation Z are more likely to have used artificial intelligence (AI) for customer service and think AI-enabled chatbots make issue resolution quicker and easier.  As contact center and operations leaders explore contact center software and advanced call center technologies, it’s critical that digital channels are included in any overall strategy for modernization.  Millennial and GenZ make up a considerably large percentage of the market and are redefining the expectations for engagement.

They are also leading the charge for using social messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger, to interact with businesses.

Respondents by generation that use social messaging apps for customer service.

  • 59% of Millennials
  • 58% of Generation Z
  • 38% of Generation X
  • 19% Baby Boomers
  • 16% of the Silent Generation

Additionally, Millennials and Generation Z have a higher preference for text and mobile apps, and are more likely to have used public social media for customer service. In a recent healthcare industry blog, Rick Halton notes that “with the rise of online shopping and on-demand apps—for everything from buying groceries to ordering food and taxis or managing online banking—convenience has become a staple. The danger for providers is, if Gen Z doesn’t get that desired convenience, they’ll go elsewhere.”  These generational preferences are not limited to any specific industry, they are pervasive and industry agnostic. 

Businesses - take heed - that big group of consumers filling up your pipeline prefers channel choice. Not only that, they'll reward you for it. Millennials and Generation Z that have exceptional customer experiences are willing to spend more money with that business, share their positive experience on social media, and post a recommendation.

History is full of examples of businesses that failed because they didn't adapt to this "circle of life." Survival often depends on anticipating and fulfilling customer preferences. Millennials and Generation Z have shared their service expectations, and it's digital-first omnichannel. Businesses that adopt this service approach will be well-positioned to compete in today's experience economy.

Implementing digital channels into your contact center is a ‘must-have’ for any business in today’s market.  It offers more choice for consumers across all generations to engage with your business.  The asynchronous nature of digital channels like Twitter and text allow consumers to avoid being put into “hold purgatory” where they may be passed around from agent to agent or department to department.  What’s more, it allows users to engage with your business on their terms on channels that are more convenient than waiting on hold as a captive audience.

Interested in learning more about what Millennials and Generation Z have to say about customer service expectations? Download our complimentary eBook.

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