How the demands of Gen Z shape the future of customer service

Published October 29, 2020
Last updated October 30, 2020

Guest blog from Christian Blomberg, Chief Customer Officer, Solvemate

It’s time to rethink your customer service strategy. A new generation is on the rise and with them the demand of a new way to support their needs. While the focus has been on Millennials in the last decade, a shift towards Generation Z has to be made now in order to keep up.

In 2019, Gen Z became the largest generation, populating our planet with a striking 32%. Being born between the late 1990’s and 2012, the first ones of their cohort have already turned 18, which means they are starting to enter the workforce. With their purchase power comes also the necessity to personalise customer care to offer them the service experience they’re looking for.

Understanding the shift

Today’s instant economy shapes the minds of this generation and vice versa. Gen Z is a hard one to please, with high expectations, but only little patience. Constantly being connected via various social and messaging channels leaves them with the idea that everything around them should also be ‘always on’ and available 24/7/365.

They crave for ‘on demand’ experiences which have to live up to their high standards. In addition to that, being this tech-savvy comes with a strong focus on a sophisticated user design and experience. This applies not only to the brand itself, but also translates to its customer service. A stunning 81% of Millennials and Gen Zers say they already left a brand because of a poor customer care experience. Gen Z is even more likely to switch brands without any hesitation if they don’t meet their expectations. Any more questions why you should address the demands of this generation immediately?

They want their demands met and they want it now. But they’re also willing to do it themselves. Starting already with the Millennials, these two cohorts have become Generation DIY: 71% want to solve their problems themselves. They might be impatient, but they’re also very hands-on and expect to be enabled to act upon that

Speaking of hands-on, they’re also not only shopping everything from electronic devices to household supplies online for themselves, but also influence the family shopping behaviour. This starts with online product research and leads to purchase decisions. They are shaping a new way of shopping and are the powerful driving force at the very core of it.

‘Mobile first’ has been a mantra of modern society for a while now. In the future, smartphones will “remain the control center of our digitalised everyday life”, according to futurist Nicklas Bergman. But it will go beyond the screens of these devices, by adding more wearables and the possibilities of voice and gesture control. A seamless connected way of life will become even more important, influencing the future of customer service driven by Gen Z.

Supporting Generation Z

One thing is sure: Gen Z won’t start their customer service journey being stuck on the phone, waiting to be connected with the next available support agent. Gen Zers look for easy and intuitive solutions which they seek online. The best way to address them is the way they already communicate. Convenient communication is key for them, preferably facilitated by new technology like voice, and across their favourite social media and messaging platforms offering immediate responses. Convenient often means also preferably no human interaction to them, they are more trusting in online channels like chatbots than other older generations.

Omnichannel is an approach which is already implemented by many companies in their customer service strategy, yet it tends to be flawed if not applied the right way. It often lacks the two most important things which Gen Z demands and which omnichannel promises, but often fails to deliver: responsiveness and self-service first. Offering all these different channels on an equal level and not prioritising them can quickly result in a chaotic overload of customer requests across all contact channels which is hard to stay on top of. The result is frustration on both ends.

There’s a better way to handle all your channels: Instead of approaching omnichannel with a ‘the more the better’ mindset in order to keep up with the rise of new platforms, the different channels should be prioritised and built up like a funnel to actively guide the customers towards the solution of their problem. The first layer should always be self-service, powered by the right automation tools to create a seamless service experience.

Catering to the different social channels like WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram Messenger, Line, Twitter DM and other ones can be easily channeled into one customer service platform to unify all inbound and outbound messages. Adding a chatbot to the equation will create a powerful omnichannel support system. The Gen Z customers can choose their favourite channel, receive instant service and if needed they can be handed over seamlessly to an agent, all delivered in one interface. Intuitive, convenient and easy - no friction or frustration.

According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020, engaging with customer service via their preferred contact method is the most important aspect of a personalised experience for Gen Zers. Creating the infrastructure for a digitally connected customer care ecosystem will become even more important in the future. It is something to act on now to avoid a gap in serving customers. Opening up customer service to new ways of communication like voice technology and popular social channels on the rise is key to keep Gen Z engaged and adjust to their demands.