Why Gen Z Customer Expectations are Important for Your C-Sat Strategy

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According to a study by Walker, this is the year that customer experience will take the place over price and product as the brand differentiator. This is a monumental shift for organisations and while many have made large strides in improving their customer service and delivering on the promise of experience, the majority of brands are still struggling.

If companies want to make strides in their attempt to deliver great experiences, they need to begin by ensuring they are delivering excellent customer service. One of the biggest consumers of this service will be Generation Z.

Members of Generation Z (those who were born between 1996-2010), who as of last year made up approximately one-third of the global population, have very real customer service expectations that, if not met, could have a big impact on your business. 

The buying power of this segment is reason enough to understand why brands should heavily consider the expectations of Gen Z when developing their customer service strategy. As if that wasn’t enough, there are more reasons for consideration. 

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Make Your Brand More Human

Over the last number of weeks, I have seen LinkedIn posts that declare “the most human brand wins!” While I believe this is true, it has been fascinating to see many of the comments on these posts are from the Z generation who are relatively new to the workforce.

Why does this resonate? Because according to research, and despite Gen Z being digitally savvy, they do prefer a human connection as evidenced by a study conducted by Ooma, Inc. According to the study: 

  • Authentic, human contact prevails: 57% of respondents prefer phone calls over electronic communication when dealing with local businesses. 35% of Gen Zers specifically said this is due to the speed and efficiency of phone conversations as compared to texting and social media.
  • A phone call is key in professional situations: Phone calls are the most preferred when contacting service professionals, including doctors, dentists and other health care professionals, hair and beauty salons, garages and legal and tax services.
  • Social media is least favoured: Only 17% of Gen Zers like to communicate with local businesses over social media. Among them, 30% say it is impersonal and 35% claim slow responses to enquiries.
  • Email is geared toward Baby Boomers: Email is more often a preferred method of communication for Baby Boomers, while Gen Z prefers email the least.
  • Gen Z prefers human contact for booking hotels: 47% of Gen Zers choose to call a local hotel, compared to just 8% who would want to text with them, and 8% who’d communicate with them over social media.

If you want to make your customer service be a differentiator with Gen Z, make it more human and make it easy to make a connection rather than work through phone trees or resort to social media.

They Talk and Follow!

As the first generation to have grown up digital, Generation Z are avid users of social media – think TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat, and sorry Facebook, they are just not that into you. This means that this is where they go to share their thoughts, opinions, and insights.

I had a front-row seat to this recently when my daughter, born in 1999, shared a story of one of her friends who had a bad experience with a product. She posted a Snapchat story about it and, from my daughter’s perspective, that brand was of poor quality and not to be trusted. This particular brand not only missed on customer service, but now, at least in a small pocket within the social media universe, has a poor brand reputation. 

Beyond Gen Z’s penchant to share everything across social media, they also follow and as a result are influenced. While influencer marketing is nothing new, a study conducted by Hootsuite shows that “social media influencers” actually take a back seat to the influence that friends and family have on Gen Z. If you do not care to read the study, influencers are 4th on the list with second place going to online reviews. 

What this means for brands is that both a good and poor customer experience will reverberate across Gen Z through social platforms and smartphones. It also means using these platforms to communicate and deliver service as best as possible. 

The delivery of customer service in a rapidly changing world is no easy task. However, those brands that take the time to understand Gen Z, both needs, and desires and look to make this powerhouse generation part of their strategy will be better off than their competitors for years to come. Service is indeed a cornerstone for delivering exceptional customer experience.

Start revolutionising your customer relationships

Originally published Jun 02, 2020, updated Jun 26, 2020


Carlos Hidalgo is a 25-year business veteran. Over the span of the last two plus decades, Hidalgo has held corporate roles, started his own entrepreneurial ventures and served in non-profits.

In addition to his various roles and business pursuits, Hidalgo is the author of two books Driving Demand, one of the Top 5 Marketing Books of all time according to Book Authority which was published in 2015 and The UnAmerican Dream which was published in 2019.

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