Why Millennials and Gen Z’ers need to be at the heart of retailers’ customer service strategies
• By 2019, Millennials and Generation Z’ers will make-up nearly two-thirds of the world’s population.
• Offering personalized and efficient customer service will be key to a brand’s success.
Read time: 5 minutes
Of all the disruptions to brands in the last decade, the evolving demands of millennials has probably had the most airtime. There’s been endless column inches, conferences and comment devoted to how the rise of better informed, more connected and more demanding consumers has transformed how retailers engage with their audiences.
But the only constant is change. Just as brands once had to meet the challenge of millennials, now it’s the next generation coming of age. The – in some cases literally – new kids on the block are set to have an even bigger influence than their predecessors.
The rising customer service demands of Generation Z
Aged between four and 23, Gen Z’ers are the first of the so-called ‘digital natives’ – those who have grown up entirely in the age of the internet and have little memory of life before smartphones.
They might be the youngest in the pack but they’re not to be ignored. In fact, cultural strategist firm Cassandra predicts Gen Z will be the largest group of consumers by 2020, spending between $29 and $143 billion. 
Meeting the expectations of this fresh set of consumers is the next challenge for brands. But what exactly are those expectations?
Meeting the customer service challenge for Generation Z
In a nutshell, Gen Z has minimal patience and high demands. They have always lived in a society where they can access more or less anything they want, whenever they want it – so an exceptional level of customer service, in a channel and time that suits them, is non-negotiable. Every channel of conversation, from Whatsapp to Instagram, is home territory blended for Gen Z and they’ll interact with friends, family and even brands across all of them interchangeably.
That’s before you consider emerging technology such as voice-activated devices and smart homes.
With such a busy landscape, how can businesses provide customer service which is both effective and seamless across every channel?
As we touched on in our recent article on the single customer view, a platform that customer service representatives can use to see a full history of interactions, wherever and whenever they happened, is key.
Creating a relationship with Generation Z
The ‘emotional connection’ between consumer and brand might sound like little more than a buzzword, but it’s becoming more and more important. Gen Z’ers, just like millennials before them, want to feel valued and unique, not just a transaction or a number on a call waiting list.
Having a platform that brings all interactions together into one view means it’s far easier for representatives to provide this personalised service, suggest a ‘next best action’ and a recommendation that works specifically to address the consumer’s individual needs.
Get it right and you can create an army of ambassadors and advocates for your brand. But get it wrong, and the consumers who are most likely to write great reviews are just as likely to turn to Twitter to voice a complaint. Our retail whitepaper found that 95 per cent of consumers would tell one friend about a bad experience and 54 per cent would tell more than five. The power of shared experiences among Gen Z cannot be understated.
Keeping the connection with Generation Z through effective customer service when things go wrong
When issues crop up, customer service representatives are often at the front line of maintaining the relationship between a customer and a brand. But technology – such as voice recognition or automated phone systems – can mean customers are frustrated and disappointed even before they get to speak to a real human.
By investing in training and understanding their customers’ journey, brands can help their representatives deal with these customers constructively and sympathetically.
Some brands are going even further and rethinking their whole customer offering. Most recently, T-Mobile announced the launch of a new customer service program in America called the Team of Experts, reducing its reliance on automated messaging.
Subscribers to the new service will now be assigned a team of dedicated specialists, who they can contact directly via message or phone with questions or problems. By speaking to the same team of people every time customers with a more personalized level of experience, reducing call-backs and, more importantly, improving perceptions.
With two-thirds of the world’s population set to be classed as either a Millennial or a Gen Z’er by 2019, their wants and needs will be the driving factor behind customer service industry for years to come. Get it right and the benefits could be great, but fail to meet their standards and it could mean losing their custom forever.
Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.