Generation Z and the Customer Experience: What You Need to Know

Authored by Kayla Brehm

Published on March 21, 2016

Forget everything you think you know about millennials. Generation Z is on the rise and will soon be taking over the consumer market. But what do we really know about them? Marketers have been researching how to connect with Gen Z for years and have identified the group as screen addicts with short attention spans.

But soon this group of consumers will soon have all of the buying power. In fact by 2020, Gen Z will account for 40% of all consumers. How will the customer experience look by then?

To start, let’s look at what we do know about Generation Z.


Who are they?

Born between 1995-2012, Generation Z are just becoming adults, the oldest now reaching 19 years old. They’re also one of the largest generations, with a population of 23 Million and growing.

They’re the first, true, digital natives as the first generation born with the technology we’ve grown to love (and understand). While we were being taught handwriting in school, they were learning to program. While we played with toys, they were handed ipads. It’s because of this instant education that they’re inherently more dependent on technology.

Also as a result, they have shorter attention spans (an average of 8 seconds).

“They’ve grown up in a world where their options are limitless but their time is not. As such, Gen Z have adapted to quickly sorting through and assessing enormous amounts of information. Online, they rely heavily on trending pages within apps to collect the most popular recent content.” (Fast Company)

Gen Z are more adept at multiple screen management and use an average of five screens on average, as opposed to the millennials three.


How to tailor the customer experience

Gen Z have billions of dollars in spending power, so what can you do to make sure that it’s with your company? How can you ensure a great customer experience?

1.Be more visual

From emojis to videos, find a way to make your content and experience more visual.

BaubleBar is a great example of a company that tries to personalize the online purchasing process as much as possible. Through video chat, they offer customers the option to see the “baubles” they’re interested in in real time, rather than a still photograph.

“When customers shop with a stylist using video chat (including Google, Facetime and now Vee24) the average order value is 300 percent higher than the average, meaning that even if customers intend to buy just one thing, a friendly face on the screen showing them the options inspired them to get even more.”


2. Be brief

We mentioned their short attention spans above, and that 8 second average extends to social media. They prefer “snackable” content platforms like Snapchat, Secret, and Whisper. To reach Gen Z, try to make your information brief and easily digestible, or they’ll lose interest and move on.

To start, try creating a trending board on your main help page so visitors can see if their issue is common or not. Status pages are great, and help prevent a number of duplicate tickets.


3. Be inclusive

Let your customers be a part of the process. Gen Z-ers are used to being a part of every decision. They want a platform that is not only highly customizable, but they want to be a part of something bigger. Create an ideas board that they can insert product feature ideas and work with them on implementing ones that work for your team.


4. Be omnichannel

User and customer experiences are no longer restricted to one screen. When we watch game shows, we’re prompted to vote via social media or on our phones. When we have an issue with an airline, our reflex is to tweet about it.

Gen Z is no different. Sticking to TV, Phone, Laptop, Desktop, Ipod, or other portable devices, they want experiences to cross screens. Consider the omnichannel experience to create a fluid process.

For example, if your company invests in live chat as a service channel, consider creating a SMS-driven prompt, allowing visitors to create either a helpdesk ticket or chat via their smartphones.

Also consider adapting notifications. Forbes recently posted that Gen Z are 3x more likely to open a chat message received through a push notification.


5. Be mission-driven (have a greater purpose)

Mission-driven companies are valued across all generations, but they hold a special place within Generation Z. They’re selective about where they spend their money, and usually choose to do so with companies who have a greater purpose. Even if you’re not a nonprofit, make your mission clear. Are you about empowering your employees? Helping people have better customer service? They want to know.


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