Preparing for the future of digital customer service begins with knowing who your customers are (and will be) and understanding their preferences. Generation Z, those born after 1995, will make up 30% of the US population by 2020 and will be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to expectations of brands. They differ massively from millennials and exemplify “digital-first” – most have never even sent a letter by mail. So, how will Gen Z communicate with one another and how should your brand best serve them? Let’s walk through how to meet the needs of this digitally demanding generation.

Who is Generation Z?

Many companies are focused on catching the attention of Generation Y (aka Millennials) and rightfully so – there are 80 million Millennials in America and they make up about a fourth of the population with 200 billion in annual buying power. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that pie?

However, Millennials are no longer the rising generation. An important thing to consider is that Millennials (ranging 17-35 years old) are already in the workforce and making an impact on the way brands conduct business. As a company searching for opportunities to prepare for the needs of a future generation, it is Generation Z you should be turning your attention to.

Generation Z (Post-Millennials) are individuals born from 1996 to present. Considering many of the members of this generation are adolescents, many of their adult characteristics have yet to be discovered. However, early signs show that this generation is:

  • Increasingly self-aware, self-reliant, innovative, and goal-oriented
  • Adept to doing web-based research and often self-educates with online sources
  • Preferring more peer-to-peer social media and messaging apps (such as Snapchat, Vine and Instagram)
  • Trending toward apps that are more instantaneous, use less personal information and are more visually appealing to users

They are a powerful generation that will change the status quo for customer service. One key difference from Millennials: Most members of Gen Z don’t remember a time before social media. Their lives are defined by digital interactions – from the way they communicate with friends and family to how they make major purchases and communicate with brands. They have no concept of life without the Internet, are less likely to consider calling a live agent for a customer service issue, and are increasingly attracted to the effortless experiences provided by digital messaging. Immediate and effortless experiences, this is what they consider normal in today’s digital world and they expect nothing less from brands they choose to do business with.

How do they Communicate?

Generation Z believes in a limitless digital experience. They live in a world of continuous updates and with that comes high expectations. Post-Millennials process information faster than any other generation, which means they have lower attention spans. They are multi-taskers: it’s not uncommon to see them on a tablet, sitting in front of a TV, while simultaneously messaging their BFF on Instagram from an iPhone.

They want quick, convenient ways to communicate with one another and your brand. When you’re thinking about how to provide an effortless customer experience to this generation of forward-thinkers, you must consider how they behave and communicate with one another and then construct your strategy to match their preferences.

In our most recent webinar, our CEO, Davy Kestens, illustrates how this generation prefers to communicate.

How to Reach and Serve Generation Z?

First, embrace digital technology because they already have. The digital shift is well underway and your future customers are spearheading this transition. Prepare by developing a customer service strategy that empowers your customers and agents alike to communicate with one another in the most seamless way possible.

Start by communicating across multiple platforms (specifically in-app messaging, messaging apps, and web-based messaging). Messaging is convenient for both parties and offers your customers and agents a threaded view of their conversation so neither party loses context. Messaging also allows for both parties to express emotion by using emoji, gifs, video, and let’s face it, this generation has basically developed a new language with the use of these forms of media.

Once you have started learning about the preferences of these customers, leverage AI and machine learning to scale your interactions with them. A brand can leverage front-end AI-powered chatbot to alleviate some of the simpler, but time consuming tasks for agents like answering FAQs. The benefits of having this kind of bot include automating responses to common customer queries, decreasing agent handle time (AHT) by 10% or more, increasing the average number of conversations being handled at once, as well as decreasing the number of general agents required in the contact center. This will help meet the needs are a generation demanding immediate and seamless interactions.

Lastly, be conscious of privacy. Millennials were the first generation to publish their lives to the world and with that comes a learning curve when it comes to digital privacy. Generation Z, however, has learned from the mistakes of their predecessors and privacy is non-negotiable to them. Recent studies showed that 63% of Gen Z is concerned when it comes to protecting their identity when paying with a debit or credit card online or in a retail store and nearly two-thirds of consumers would stop or avoid using a company or brand that experienced a data breach.

Customer-centric brands, like DreamHost, focus on securely collecting sensitive customer information without forcing customers to leave messaging channels. They use Sparkcentral’s Secure Authentication, which is a secure portal to collect customer information that’s needed to verify the customer’s identity. This is vital for brands who want to offer full resolution over digital channels.

DreamHost testimonial around secure authentication:

Generation Z are the customers of tomorrow and it is important to be prepared for the changes they will bring to the customer service landscape. Watch our latest webinar featuring Zappos and Western Union to learn more about how you can shift your brand’s digital customer service strategy to create the immediate and effortless experience Generation Z has come to expect.