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10 Gen Z insights to improve your CX

Posted November 15, 2021 - Updated January 12, 2024
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Adapting your customer experience (CX) strategy for Gen Z is imperative for success in the digital age. But to do that, you need to develop an understanding of generational research and separate myth from truth. And that's not easy.

This difficulty becomes especially apparent when you consider that fiction spreads faster, and seems to be in greater supply, than fact. To make sense of it all, we spoke with acclaimed Gen Z expert, Jason Dorsey to share unexpected insights that CX leaders can act on now. Unveiling findings from the behavioral research conducted by his firm, The Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), Dorsey highlighted what brands get wrong about Gen Z, as well as ways to develop experiences that meet and exceed their expectations.

Above all, one thing is clear: Brands can't afford to get caught without a plan for Gen Z. Dorsey makes a strong case for urgency: "When we look at generational change, and we just look back to the Millennials, my generation, remember how many people said 'oh they're going to grow out of it,' 'it's going to be fine, just keep doing what you've done,' and wham! What happened? Those companies just got totally hammered and then they spent the next 15 years trying to catch up."

Let's go over the fundamentals of creating a customer experience that meets the needs of Gen Z.

What you need to know to create a generational strategy

When building a generational strategy for CX, the first thing to do is make sure your stakeholders are on the same page. It's all too common for people to make the false assumption that there is a shared understanding of what generations are and what they are not. "Generations are not a box that each of us will fit neatly inside based on our birth year," says Dorsey.

So what are they? Dorsey defines generations as "segments of a geographically-linked population that experience similar social and cultural events at roughly the same time in their maturation, leading to predictability by scenario." This definition offers an important, but often overlooked insight: Historically, generations will exhibit different traits in different geographies, which makes creating a global strategy considerably more complex.

But that's changing. The world is connected more than ever before as a result of a rise in access to increasingly affordable technology. With greater access to tech, generational researchers are able to observe more similarities among the young.

Make no mistake — these are expectations brands should take to heart. According to Dorsey, for the first time ever, tech adoption trends are being driven from society's youngest members. "And this hugely impacts CX, because what we find out is with younger generations, [is that] they absolutely expect [to be able to do] whatever is most comfortable to them." It's time to design for what's effortless.

Debunking generational myths about Gen Z

There are a couple of things that brands get consistently wrong about Gen Z. If you want to be prepared for a future driven by their influence, don't make these assumptions.

Myth: Gen Z trusts social media because they're young

While it's true that Gen Zers are particularly active on social media, the reason for their trust is not simply that they're young or lacking discernment. CGK research discovered that their trust in social media is the result of growing up with the technology at their fingertips and being able to follow events as they unfold. This is in contrast to their distrust of traditional media like newspapers and the evening news, precisely because of their slow news cycles. For customer experience leaders, the key takeaway is to meet your customers where they expect to be met, and in the case of Gen Z, that means adapting your support operation to account for the evolving social media landscape.

Myth: Gen Z doesn't want to work

Dorsey emphatically refutes this perception of laziness as "complete nonsense." In actuality, Gen Z is the fastest growing generation in the workforce. Not only are Gen Zers eager to work, many brands also overlook that the generation's oldest members are already established in the workforce. Don't discredit their contribution in the present and their potential to change the course of your brand's future based on this misconception. Instead, think critically about generational differences in order to create strategies that help you to motivate your current cohort of Gen Z team members and recruit Gen Z talent to your organization.

10 Gen Z insights to improve your CX

Now that we've separated myth from truth, here are Dorsey's unexpected insights that customer experience leaders can act on now.

  1. Gen Z is the fastest growing and most diverse generation of consumers, employees and trendsetters. Dorsey adds, "And they have a much broader definition of diversity that we really have to honor and celebrate because that is part of who they are."
  2. Contrary to popular belief, Gen Zers are very different from Millennials. The economic and technological world they've experienced in their formative years is also markedly different.
  3. Gen Zers are practical with their money and spending.
  4. Those in Gen Z seek a combination of self service and agent help, especially for matters that are complex, financial, time-sensitive and high-risk.
  5. COVID-19 is their generation-defining event. This is what will separate Gen Z from the generation that follows. Gen Z will remember time before the pandemic; Generation Alpha and those who follow will not.
  6. It's important to empathize with their stress and frustration. COVID-19 impacted everyone, but the future that Gen Zers were looking to has been forever changed. Empathy has never been more important.
  7. They're not mobile-first; they're mobile-only. This one's key. "A lot of executives don't like to hear that. But here's the deal: If they have to go [from one] device to another in order to complete something, you've lost them. Other generations will eventually adopt the exact same playbook," explains Dorsey.
  8. Gen Zers will give up anonymity for better CX — and expect agents to have all their information available at once. For brands yet to implement omnichannel CX, this is your sign.
  9. There's great value in knocking Gen Z customer experience out of the park: They're the most likely generation to provide a referral to a brand or service.
  10. A generational first, Gen Z are driving trend adoption up to the oldest generation. Expressing urgency, Dorsey described not adapting to the CX expectations of Gen Z as a "plan for obsolescence."

Developing a generational strategy for CX

Now that you're well-versed in some of the more pressing customer experience expectations of Gen Z, it's time to take things a step further. Creating a generational strategy for Gen Z, and the other customers and team member demographics, can play an important role in driving customer satisfaction. To capture those benefits and avoid a frustrating one-size-fits-none approach, an award-winning CX partner can make all of the difference. Contact us today to hone your strategy.

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