Generation Z has come of age and, having entered the global workforce now represents a significant percentage of the worldwide consumer base. Far from being just another demographic that requires minimal service adjustments, they bring a host of new developments to the world of customer experience (CX), some of which demand serious changes to how we think about providing the optimal experience.
What makes them so different from the generations that have come before?
Gen Z is the first generation to have grown up surrounded by smartphones and tablets from birth to the present day. For them, digital isn’t just one of many options for addressing their wants, needs, concerns, and interests – it’s typically the first option.
A substantial part of their developmental progress occurred during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has had three notable results: (1) to them, remote connections are real connections, (2) they have a heightened awareness of ethics, and (3) they’re more open and alert toward gender and mental health issues than any previous generation.
What do these things mean in the context of CX?
- Gen Z leans toward quick, efficient, and digital-first CX approaches. They are more likely than customers of previous generations to engage in a relationship with a new company instead of sticking to established brands if provided with a superior experience.
- They’re conscious of what a company can do for them and how it operates in aspects like corporate responsibility and sustainability. Peer opinion and social media go a long way toward determining whether or not they choose to patronize a brand.
- They enjoy individualized and personal customer experiences, seeking unique CX moments that focus on the consumer rather than the brand. Gen Z responds to emotional approaches that reflect and support their evolving sense of identity and empowerment.
Generation Z is the generation of the individual. For them, virtually every business they engage with is an extension and expression of the self. If they buy clothes from a brand that produces garments through slave labor, they essentially support slavery.
So, even if they’re starting in the workplace, they’re willing to spend a little more to patronize a company that donates some of its profits to charity. Instead of shopping at the nearest grocery, they’ll go a little farther – or buy online to support a store that, in whatever way, better fits their preferences, allegiances, and advocacies.
In a way, Gen Z wants the same thing as any other consumer: for a company to make and fulfill the right promises. What’s important to remember, however, is that they’re seeking a brand relationship that feels right and does right.
Gen Z wants us all to be better, and they want to see it, know it, and feel it. Is your CX strategy up to the challenge?