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Gen Z and your Customer Self-Service

By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing

When it comes to your customer service strategy, does age matter? Do you make decisions about how and where you deliver support based on the generations of your target customers? Are you planning for the expectations of younger customers as they gain more buying power over the next few years?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you are doing your company and your customer base a huge disservice. You are opening the door to your competitors and welcoming them in to steal your customers away. You are missing out on a prime opportunity to put your customer service efforts on the path to future success.

Customer service and CX expert, Shep Hyken recently published his 2022 ACA Study: Achieving Customer Amazementdownload a full copy of the report here – which explores the state of customer service and customer experience. For the study, a 26-question survey was completed by consumers in the United States between the ages of 18 and 65. The report breaks down generational responses into the following groups: Gen Z (ages 18-25); Millennials (ages 26-44); Gen X (ages 45-56); Boomers (ages 57-65).

One important question asked in the survey focused on the future of customer service. Participants were asked: Which of the following customer service experiences do you expect to be essential to you in the near future, 3-5 years?

2022 ACA Study

The report called out these two important stats:

  • In the next three to five years, non-human customer service will be more essential.
  • In the next three to five years, older generations expect 24/7 availability, online chat, human interactions only, and never being put on hold or transferred more than younger generations. Younger generations expect mobile friendly and intuitive self-service options more than older generations.

The finding that non-human customer service is becoming more important doesn’t come as a surprise. This has been a growing trend, especially over the past decade, as access to and the use of more technology has increased across age groups. Digital literacy has also improved greatly in the past few years, partly due to necessity as public health concerns have reduced in-person activities during the pandemic.

This is important for organizations to remember as they develop and tweak their customer support strategies for the next few years. Human interactions are still essential to a positive experience, of course. However, it will become increasingly essential for the human parts of your customer service to be linked with the non-human pieces in a way that creates consistency across your business.

More significant for the future of your customer support strategy is the second key stat highlighted in this part of the survey. If your company has customers across older and younger generations, then your strategy for the near future must take into account the preferences of both groups. However, the expectations of Gen Z and Millennials are where your focus should be as you plan for the long-term.

Younger generations selecting mobile friendly and intuitive self-service options as essential over the next three to five years reflects a crucial change in customer preferences. The evolution of preferences towards mobile and digital-first has been happening for years, particularly as smartphones have become a key part of everyday life. These preferences aren’t a passing fad. They indicate the expectations that will be placed on your customer service tools and engagements as younger generations of customers gain more buying power.

The survey also delved into current self-service usage, finding 71% of respondents use self-service tools. When asked more specifically ‘When you have a problem or issue with a company or brand, which solution do you prefer to help solve your problem?’, 49% of Gen Z participants and 41% of Millennials said they would use a digital self-service option rather than make a call to talk to a live customer service agent. These percentages were significantly higher than Gen X and Boomers, further reflecting the generational shift towards self-service.

Now is the time for every company to examine how self-service currently fits into their customer support strategy and what steps are needed to plan for self-service success in the future. Keep in mind that younger generations don’t just want self-service options, but rather are coming to expect intuitive self-service. More advanced technologies like conversational AI deliver the capabilities you need to create those self-service experiences.

Investments in these types of solutions can sound risky, but the real risk is in not making changes to your customer service approach now. The survey results shared in this report reinforce the need to take actions that not only create positive experiences now but lay the groundwork for successfully meeting the expectations of Gen Z in the future.

Download The 2022 ACA Study from Shep Hyken’s website for more insights on customer preferences and habits.

Also check out the three steps in Conversational AI Doesn’t Have to be a Risky Investment for tips to help get you started on creating proven, reliable, and intuitive self-service tools.

We’ll Spend 1 Billion Years Online in 2018

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

It’s certainly no secret that we’re spending more and more time online. In fact, the 2018 Global Digital suite of reports from We Are Social and Hootsuite, published earlier this year, share data showing that the average internet user spends about 6 hours online every day. When you add that up for the 4 billion internet users across the globe, the world will spend an impressive 1 billion years online this year!

Nearly a quarter of a billion new users came online for the first time last year, bringing the total internet users to 53% of the world’s population – up 7% from 2016. Much of this growth is due to more affordable smartphones and mobile data plans. Social media use is also on the rise, up 13%, with over 3 billion people using social media platforms each month. Not surprisingly, 9 in 10 of those users are accessing those platforms on mobile devices.

Digital Around the World in 2018

The Growth of Messenger Apps

During 2017 nearly 1 million people started using social media for the first time every day, which breaks down to more than 11 new users every second. Facebook’s core platform is still the leader in active users, but WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger both grew twice as fast. The number of people using each of those messenger apps was up by 30% last year, tying them at about 1.3 billion active users on each platform. However, WhatsApp wins when it comes to geographic penetration, boasting top messenger app status in 128 countries compared to Facebook Messenger’s 72 countries.

 Top Messenger Apps

The Rise in E-commerce

1.77 billion people worldwide are now buying consumer goods online, a growth of 8% during 2017, reaching a total annual spend of nearly $1.5 trillion USD last year. Adding in other categories such as travel and digital content raises the global e-commerce figure to be closer to $2 trillion USD.

Approximately 45% of all internet users are now making purchases online although there is a wide variation among countries. The United Kingdom leads the pack with 78% of the population buying consumer goods online; the United States comes in at 69% and Australia at 59%. Not surprisingly, the average revenues per user (ARPU) has also shown solid growth and is up 7%.

e-commerce consumer goods

e-commerce

Get to Know the Trends AND Your Customers

More than just providing attention grabbing statistics (like the world spending a whopping 1 billion years online in 2018!), these reports highlight some important worldwide trends for businesses. More than half of the world’s population is now online. It’s where we go to connect with each other, find answers to our questions and do our shopping. We’ve become highly connected digital customers looking for 24/7 access to information and support on a variety of devices. Organisations and brands need to keep their finger on the pulse of these trends – both global and local.

Getting know the trends is a great place to start but it isn’t enough. Companies also need to get to know their customers in order to understand how best to apply these trends and address the changing digital landscape. For example, organisations should be looking at how they can engage with customers on messenger apps and other social platforms but need to know which ones their customers are already using or those efforts will be wasted.

A good example of an organisation doing this is Transport for NSW in Australia. They saw an opportunity to connect with customers on Facebook Messenger and introduced an interactive chatbot, their Real-time Intelligent Transport Assistant (RITA), on the platform. They then built on RITA’s success in Facebook Messenger by adding the chatbot to their website and, in January of this year, integrating RITA with Amazon’s Alexa.

By combining global, local and industry trends with an understanding of their customer base, organisations can take advantage of the world’s growing dependence on the internet and preference for purchasing goods online. Companies will benefit from increased engagement and a better experience by meeting their digital customers where they are already spending their time.