Customer Experience Trends: What Does a Gen Z Customer Expect?
Generation Z. Zoomers. Gen Zers. What do we know about them?
Here are several facts:
- By 2030, they will become the world’s most populous generation
- This is the first digital-native generation as they have never known the world without the internet
- Their spending power is already over $140 billion and is about to grow as they enter the workplace
- 75% of Zoomers prefer using smartphones over desktops and spend 8+ hours per day online, on average
- They stand for diversity and thus, put emphasis on the importance of expressing their unique self
- Gen Zers are more engaged in activism than other generations, and deeply care about social and environmental responsibility
With that in mind, do you think your business is ready for Gen Z?
Experience is everything for a Gen Z customer
Zoomers are the first truly connected generation. They consume tons of information daily and thus, can quickly filter what they do like and what they don’t. As customers, they know very well that if they can’t find what they desire in one place, they will find it elsewhere, because the choice of brands offering similar products is huge.
Unlike other generations, Gen Zers are more willing to try new products, searching for those that solve their problem better than the brands they are currently using. And they are just as willing to get rid of products that don’t deliver. This implies that Gen Z customers are less loyal to brands. That’s why attracting Gen Z’s attention and retaining them is one of the major difficulties you, as a business, will be struggling with.
So what now? Nothing can be done? You just need to sit and wait, hoping that your product takes Gen Z’s fancy? — No. You need to focus your efforts on improving customer experience if you want to appeal to this young yet powerful audience. Here are 3 pillars on which good customer experience rests in the eyes of Zoomers:
- Remember us saying that Gen Zers demonstrate much respect for other people’s diversity and authenticity? This works both ways. They expect the same respect from you as well. A new generation of consumers is ready to pay only for the experience that aligns with their identity, beliefs, and engages with them on a personal level.
- Also, Zoomers are fast and thus, have short patience for slow-evolving old-school businesses. They expect you to be available 24 hours a day, every day, across all communication channels — offline, website, and, of course, social media. And they want seamlessness everywhere.
- And finally, they seek value. Despite their young age, members of Generation Z are practical and even more so, skeptical customers. They won’t fall for salesy offers; their inherent digital savviness allows them to easily navigate between real and fake claims. Before buying your product, a Gen Z customer will read or watch at least three reviews about it, as well as check whether influencers use it.
Companies, able to create authentic digital and social presence coupled with personalized communication, will engage more Zoomers and win their loyalty. But if you fail in predicting their preferences, attitudes, and behaviors, your business will likely cease to exist in the coming years.
7 CX trends among Gen Z customers
Soon, Zoomers will become the largest population cohort that shapes new consumption patterns and the way businesses interact with customers. So if you haven’t yet started nurturing relationships with them, it’s high time to add it to the list of your strategic priorities.
To help you win the hearts and minds of today’s young consumers, we’ve collected some of the hottest trends in customer experience that Gen Z cares about. Does your business tick all the boxes?
Trend #1: Mobile-first
61% of Gen Zers got their first smartphone at 11-17, while 22% — at the age of 10 or younger. They are constantly connected and therefore, do everything on the go — i.e. shop, play games, socialize, study, etc. That’s why their expectation of your website performance and functionality is extremely high.
Zoomers will not use a website that is incompatible with their mobile device, prone to errors, and hard to navigate. This translates into the fact that your mobile optimization efforts should go well beyond just making your website responsive. The experience you offer must be flawless and natural on smartphones — otherwise, you risk leaving the way open to competitors. A phone screen is essentially smaller than that of tablets or desktops, meaning your mobile website or app must contain only what is really important to the user and bring them to the target action faster.
Today, however, mobile usability can hardly be regarded as a customer experience trend. Instead, it must be regarded as an absolute necessity.
Trend #2: Omnichannel
It is a proven fact that Zoomers frequently balance the use of multiple devices simultaneously. Specifically, 66% of young customers do it. They can start making an order on a smartphone and complete it on a laptop. And naturally, they don’t want to experience interruptions and glitches on the way. But let’s face it, who does?
Gen Z customer expects consistency across all channels and devices. It means their user experience should be so smooth and uniform that it is nearly indistinguishable which channel they use to interact with your brand at the moment. To achieve this, all touchpoints should be integrated with each other establishing a holistic end-to-end customer experience. But there’s more to it.
A special place in your omnichannel strategy must be reserved for social media as it is now the most popular destination for brand research among Gen Zers. More likely than any other generation, they will reckon with online recommendations of social influencers or their followers when making a purchasing decision. Along with this, Zoomers are also more willing to engage with brands in a less formal environment — via comments, direct messages, or video streams.
Trend #3: Individualization
This customer experience trend naturally stems from the previous one as you just can’t provide a great omnichannel experience if it is not personalized. Interestingly, 41% of Gen Zers are even ready to sacrifice privacy to a certain extent and provide a brand with their data for the sake of personalized experience.
That said, keep your customer at the center of everything and try to understand how they perceive value at every point of interaction. For this, use advanced data analytics tools because they can inform you about the proper time, the proper context, and the proper message for Gen Z targeting.
Zoomers also appreciate it when they can be creative and express their unique self, so provide them with an opportunity to customize your product as they see fit, even at the stage of a free trial. In their research, IBM calls this Gen-Z-inspired trend ‘individualization’ since it is driven by Zoomers’ desire to adapt customer experience so that it is perceived as uniquely their own. This is something we haven’t seen with other generations.
Trend #4: Self-service
Another peculiarity of Generation Z is that they are largely self-reliant. They don’t want to speak to someone who can solve a problem for them. They want to and can do it themselves.
Only 24% of Zoomers choose to talk to a human agent when they need help. Others prefer doing their own research and coming up with their own solutions. But even when they understand that the challenge is complex, they tend to turn to AI-powered channels like virtual assistants (85%) or chatbots (78%).
What does it mean for businesses? Actually, this is one of the customer trends that can bring a tangible benefit in the form of cut expenses. Equipping your website with self-service options — such as FAQ, knowledge base, chatbot, etc. — will help you resolve customer issues faster and save on live support because a large chunk of work will be automated.
Trend #5: Exclusivity
We talked about ‘individualization’ earlier. It is also expressed in the way Zoomers want to be treated by brands when it comes to various incentives like promotions and special offers. 64% of Gen Z customers admit that they find a tailored price or loyalty rewards essential for a positive client experience.
This is true not only for financial encouragement though. New-gen customers also appreciate it if you provide them with access to exclusive content or services based on their specific needs and desires.
Such an approach creates a sense of exclusivity for Zoomers and shows them that the brand cares about every individual customer in their own way. This in turn implies that its business values align with what Gen Z preaches — i.e. personal recognition. And once Zoomers realize that they are on the same page with the brand they are using, they will be more willing to engage in brand advocacy.
Trend #6: Transparency
As self-reliant individuals, Zoomers want to be in control of every customer-brand interaction — from initial contact to checkout. They expect transparency in data collection and use, price setting, business practices, etc. By this, the brand proves that it lives up to its promises and not just pays lip service.
Among all digital customer experience trends, this one is the most difficult for brands to embrace as it requires rethinking long-established processes. But it is the only way if you target the new cohort of customers. And surprisingly, it is Gen Z who can help you with that. How? By talking to them and asking for their input. They are open to two-way communication with brands and indeed, value that you care about their opinion.
Trend #7: Social impact
You have to be clear about your motivations not only in the marketplace but also beyond it, meaning you have to take your social mission seriously if you want to attract Gen Z and win their trust. According to McKinsey, 80% of new-gen customers try to engage with the brands they consider ethical.
Zoomers have been growing in the age of transformational change — political, economic, and environmental. They are no strangers to standing up and speaking out as they believe their voice matters in shaping the future they seek. That’s why they challenge businesses on that matter too and prefer buying from companies that give back to the community or stand for the principles they care about.
So if you run an eco-friendly business or collaborate with charities on a socially useful initiative, talk about it more and in an engaging way. But be sincere. Zoomers can easily tell fake from authenticity. They care about the tangible impact backed by not only words but also actions.
Make way for the Gen Z folks
To sum it up, who is Gen Z after all? This is a new generation of people with a progressive way of thinking, who know their way around digital tools and therefore, take flexibility, easy access to information, one-click purchasing, and fast interactions with the brand for granted. They have been accustomed to this since childhood, and it is, therefore, perceived as ‘normal’. They also value authenticity, collaboration, and respect for their identity.
Generation Z is a new cohort of customers with immense purchasing power, who dictate how entire industries and businesses will transform in the coming years. That’s why many companies have already started making strategic changes to attract a new generation of consumers.
And you? Do you want to stick to tradition or attempt to play by the new rules? Make your choice.