Regardless of age, the top reason a consumer will speak negatively about a brand is poor CX — not poor experience with the product or service itself, according to a recent TELUS International survey.
Despite this agreement among all generations, experts say the CX strategies that work best for each age group differ, though there are no hard and fast rules.
Some Baby Boomers prefer to interact with brands via the newest solutions, for example, while certain Generation Zers will prefer interaction methods associated with their grandparents — like in-store visits and phone calls.
“Channel expectations are different among generations, which creates CX gaps brands must address — beyond the customer service channels that we all immediately think of when we think channels,” said John Seeds, Avtex vice president of marketing.
“Generational gaps should be identified and addressed across all channels that comprise a person’s Total Experience (TX) with a brand.”
“We see aggregated channels over time across generations,” he added. “There is really no period when a channel is completely overthrown and replaced by another channel. Some long-existing channels, like phone, have reached a point where they’re no longer decreasing. Phone usage hasn’t disappeared, and has actually stabilized, even as other channels emerge and increase.”
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Utilize Social Media for Younger Customers
The TELUS International survey revealed that 78% of Millenials and 77% of Gen Z are likely to be influenced by social media ads. As such, brands should incorporate social media into their CX strategies for these customers, said Maria Pardee, chief commercial officer at TELUS International.
Additionally, Gen Z (46%), Gen X (53%) and Baby Boomer (60%) respondents indicated that real-time help powered by artificial intelligence (AI) has the greatest positive impact on how they view a brand, boosting overall loyalty.
“If AI hasn’t been leveraged in your company’s CX strategy, the time to incorporate it is now,” said Pardee.
Think About Self-Service for Newest Generations
Younger consumers expect simple self-service options, said Corey Besaw, Ubiquity president of banking operations.
A survey from Statista backs that idea up, showing that 88% of respondents expect a company to have an online self-service portal.
“They don’t want to have to call someone or wait for an email response to complete simple tasks — such as updating an address, locking or unlocking their card or disputing a transaction," said Besaw. "They want to be able to do all those things from the mobile app.”
Utilize Phone Channels for All Consumers
“Customers of all ages still call live agents for a wide variety of issues, especially when it comes to money,” Besaw said.
“If they can’t access funds or their card is being declined, for example, that’s likely to spur a call right away, regardless of age. In those types of scenarios, customers want to talk to a real person because there is something comforting about hearing a human voice, so having adequate and well-trained call center staff is essential."
He added that older customers still have a strong desire to be “heard” and empathized with. So customer agents should avoid sounding like they’re reading a script. Agents should also be trained to identify the core issue at hand as quickly as possible.
Channel preferences are now more situational than generational. In complex or emotionally charged issues, consumers often prefer speaking to an agent. Plus, customers don’t want to type out lengthy messages on a mobile app. Certain industries will also see higher volumes of human interactions.
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Incorporate Mixed Channels for Many
“Many complex processes can be completed 80%–90% of the way via non-voice channels, but then a final step may require a wet signature (as with consumers needing to come into a banking branch or connect with a notary) or must be handled via voice to trigger the requisite PCI requirements and/or other security and regulatory steps,” said David Singer, Verint vice president of go-to-market strategy.
“There's now a whole matrix of consumers' channel of choice/convenience and channels of necessity,” Singer added. “This means that brands will need to maintain a full depth and breadth of channels and in fact, we will see a continued escalation of multi-channel interactions for more customer engagement volumes moving forward.”
“One channel can’t be a catch-all for solving a CX gap,” Seeds agreed. “Focusing too heavily on one channel is the wrong approach.
“We see companies using brute force to stand up a new channel. It’s important to figure out the ‘when and how’ of the channel. Everyone has to think through how to put it in place in the mix. New channels must be thoughtfully deployed. After all, there are humans on both sides of the channel — its use should be determined by humans.”
Addressing CX for different generations means understanding how each age group prefers to communicate and interact. You're bound to see overlap in some areas, such as phone, as well as generational outliers.
Don't forget to keep your strategies flexible. As these generations grow older and the world changes, their preferences may shift too.