Providing excellent customer service has proven its worth time and again for many businesses. Without a capable customer support team, it would be challenging to address the concerns and issues that consumers face daily.

However, there is no exact formula for success when handling escalating volumes of concerned customers. The custom service component of your business isn’t simply dealing with a faceless marketplace, but with individuals, and each one will surely have his or her own background, expectations, and behavior during interactions.  

Today, the market is as diverse as ever. Customer support experts should be able to cater to all of these subgroups. Generational preference is one of the major factors that divide various markets, and it should always be taken into consideration when making sure that clients’ needs and expectations are met. 

Why Businesses Should Adapt

In the US, 76% of consumers believe that customer service is the true test of whether a company values them or not. Your consumers are likely from varying age groups and markets, which means that their opinions and preferences on different matters, including customer service, also vary.  To carefully plan a strategy that can cater to each of their needs, it is vital to be acquainted with their expectations when looking for customer service. 

Today’s market is generally comprised of four different generations: Baby Boomers (people born between the 1940s and 1950s), Generation X (1960s–1970s), Millennials (1980s–early 1990s), and Generation Z (late 1990s–2010). It’s not hard to see that these age groups have distinct preferences in customer support.

There is no one-size-fits-all scheme when implementing effective customer relations. It is the responsibility of the company to tailor its strategy based on the needs of its clients despite their diverse age group. To create a more targeted approach, knowing more about each generation would provide invaluable insight.

Customer Support Preference Infographics

Baby Boomers (1940s–1950s)

Characterized by the increase in population following World War II, the Boomers are the first generation that enjoyed television, which allowed them to be informed with the latest news. This age group values face-to-face interactions, although some of them have learned to use email and phones for communication. 

This generation is more traditional when it comes to purchasing products and making inquiries. They prefer visiting the actual store to make purchases and researching the product. In case they encounter a problem with the merchandise, they either talk with someone from the shop personally or make a phone call.

Boomers are also very practical when making purchases. They would rather have a few choices than get a single, personalized item. For most consumers in this generation, the cheapest purchase could be the best purchase. 

This group also values clarity when it comes to communication with CSRs. Because they were used to talking with agents who were proficient in English, they now find it annoying to speak with someone who has accented English. 

Generation X (1960s–1970s)

This generation saw the introduction of several technological advancements, such as computers and cell phones. They are considered the pioneering information technology adopters and were among the first to use the Internet for work when it became popular in the 1980s and 90s. 

As far as market share is concerned, Gen X members make up more than half of consumers in the US. While they are knowledgeable about social media, they use their accounts primarily for personal use and making connections, not business or shopping. Because they have become accustomed to search engines, they often research online regarding purchases, as well as dealing with problems. 

This generation’s main medium for business-related communication is email, although consumers still receive and make phone calls when necessary. When they do make phone calls for an inquiry, they dislike being put on hold or instructed to wait for a follow-up. 

READ THIS RELATED ARTICLE: Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Support: Which Is Best for Your Business?

Millennials (1980s–early 1990s)

The millennial generation are the younger adults of the current era. Millennials grew up with the Internet and used it for learning, and now for working. They are adept with the latest in technology, and they adapt easily to change and innovation.

Unlike the two previous generations, millennials often use modern communication tools such as SMS, messaging apps, and other digital channels to connect with CSRs. They expect these representatives to be as proficient as they are when it comes to technology, or even better. This ensures that the agent can provide them a solution that they haven’t thought about. 

Due to their short attention span, millennials want customer service interactions to be short, concise, and fast. Most millennial consumers use social media customer support, and they expect answers within 10 minutes. They also prefer customer service assistance and support to be tailored specifically to their needs. 

Failure to meet their expectations could lead to negative reviews, complaints, and bad social media publicity. Millennials are slowly changing the landscape of customer service simply because they demand experience and expertise from agents. Whether they were satisfied or dissatisfied with their experience, expect them to post that on social media and inform their inner circles about it. 

Generation Z (Mid 1990s–2010)

This generation grew up with smartphones and several digital channels at their disposal. They are less likely to make initiate interactions through phone or email and prefer modern channels like instant messaging apps, social media, and AI-powered apps like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. 

Of all the generations listed above, Gen Z consumers trust digital communications the most. They use these to connect with businesses and CSRs. Statistics show that 80% of Gen Zers go to social media to learn more about a particular product before purchase. 

This generation also has extremely limited patience and attention spans. A considerable percentage of Gen Zers will hang up if the phone is not answered within 45 seconds. In addition, they are 30% more likely to curse agents when they feel that their needs are not met. To keep this group of consumers interested, businesses can use interactive and visually appealing solutions. 

READ THIS RELATED ARTICLE: Customer Support Wish List: What Your Customers Really Want

Cross-Generational Commonalities

Take note that although generational demographics are immensely helpful in categorizing consumers, they don’t always tell the full story. Aside from the strict consumer market divisions based on generation, there is another way to identify your customers, preferences, and purchase potential. Deloitte conducted a research on this and identified these attitudinal segments. 

  • Aspirationalists – Taking up 13% of the market, this group has the lowest income of the four segments. However, this doesn’t stop them from making online purchases, most of which are unplanned. They respond well to traditional advertising and are eager to try out the newest innovations in technology. They particularly love novelty merchandise. 
  • Responsible Go-Getters – This segment is around 46% of the population—the biggest chunk of the market pie. Although they earn an above-average income, they are more likely to plan their purchases than Aspirationalists. This group prefers using online channels when shopping and is the second most price-conscious group of the four segments. 
  • Pragmatists – The Pragmatists have an average income and take up around 22% of the market. Unlike other segments, they are less likely to make online purchases, probably due to a tight budget. Neither traditional nor modern forms of advertising pique their interest enough to buy something unplanned. 
  • Discerning Achievers – Covering about 19% of the market, Discerning Achievers see themselves as frugal; yet, they spend more than other segments, possibly due to their choice of brand and quality over price. They also shop online but are more wary about security than other groups. Their frequent purchases are within the food, beverage and health sectors.

READ THIS RELATED ARTICLE: How to Implement Omnichannel Customer Support for Your Business

Tailoring Customer Support to Fit Consumer Needs

As a business owner, it is your job to make sure that your customer service department can provide not only what your clients need, but adhere to their nuances and preferences, as well. Right now, there is an increasing demand for consumers to fix problems by themselves. CSRs should be able to provide an effortless self-service experience that can cater to consumers across generations. 

So how can you do that? The secret to a successful customer support strategy today is to treat your consumers as more than just a source of profit. Remember that although this is a give-and-take relationship, it is your job to provide the specific service they need, day in and day out. 

Customer service expectations will continue to rise over the next few years, and if you want your business to stay competitive on that front, you better start working with a multi-pronged strategy right away or enlist the help of a customer service outsourcing partner.

Work with a team that has the experience and expertise to handle consumers across all ages—contact SuperStaff now!

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