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Guest Blogger

By Paul Jarman, CEO, NICE inContact

The importance of meeting and exceeding customer expectations is crucial to being successful in business. With customer demographics constantly evolving, it’s vital for businesses to keep up with changing demands and attitudes to understand what really matters in the customer experience journey.

Millennials and Generation Z are becoming ever more dominant consumer groups, and their importance to the long-term success of businesses cannot be understated. According to research conducted by Barkley, the purchasing power of Generation Z has already reached an estimated $100 billion. They’re no longer the customers of tomorrow, but of today as well, and businesses cannot afford to lose out on such a significant opportunity.

From a customer service perspective, their ingrained appreciation for digital channels, including social messaging, AI-powered chatbots, means that organisations must provide digital-first, omnichannel experiences to meet their expectations and effectively compete in the experience economy. So, how exactly are these consumer groups driving the digital-first future of customer experience?

Adapting to customer demands and preferred communication channels

Millennials and Generation Z are at the forefront of what consumers expect. In today’s always-on world where consumers can constantly interact with their preferred brands or review them based on personal experiences through the likes of social media, the customer experience doesn’t stop at the checkout. These two generations champion digital-first, omnichannel experiences and expect to be able to transition between these channels instantaneously, with ease. They also expect brands, no matter their size, to meet these requirements.

In turn, this means digital communication channels are quickly becoming more prominent in the customer service sector, as preferences continue to evolve in line with the influence of today’s digital-native consumers. First-generation digital channels such as email and chat are still prominent, but there is an emergence of the second-generation messaging preferred by the corresponding emerging consumer generations. The use of private mobile messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat are moving fast to the preferred communication method for service with Millennials and Generation Z.

Recent research shows that around four in ten consumers (38%) have used a social messaging app for customer service at some point. Generation Z and Millennials are leading this charge, with 58% and 59% respectively having turned to apps to communicate with businesses, compared to 38% of Gen X, 19% of Baby Boomers and 16% of Silent Generation.

The same research found that half of all consumers agree that companies should enable interactions via private social messaging apps (rising to 72% for Gen Z and 69% of Millennials), with the channel now expected to be offered as a way to resolve issues faster and more easily.

Building an omnichannel offering

The way businesses communicate with their customers is refigured and recalibrated with each passing year, to reflect the needs of consumers in the present day. What’s clear to all is that digital-first, omnichannel experiences are now vital to positive CX. But many businesses are still failing to meet consumer expectations.

Most consumers (93%) call for seamless omnichannel experiences, and yet 73% rate companies poorly on the ability to switch easily between channels, up from 67% in 2018. This is especially significant in the context of the needs and expectations of Millennials and Generation Z, who are the most likely to have experienced omnichannel customer service (16% and 21%, respectively) and whose influence and spending power is growing each year.

It’s vital that businesses turn to private mobile messaging as part of an omnichannel offering, in order to provide Millennials and Generation Z with high-quality, digital-first customer experiences. These consumer groups are influencers for brands, and businesses have to understand the nuances of their expectations – particularly when it comes to engaging with brands via a myriad of digital channels.

Companies focused on the consumer and open to newer channels and techniques are part of a vanguard of customer service innovators. These businesses are the ones that will reap the rewards by keeping their customers satisfied and engaged during the months and years to come while increasing brand loyalty and sustainable growth.

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