Personalize Service to Reflect Generational Preferences

Posted: February 14, 2023
Category: Spotlight on Business

Consumers have expectations about the service they want to receive. For some generations, it’s higher than others. However, what’s required to deliver an exceptional shopping experience continues to evolve, placing greater demands on retailers. Businesses often assume customers are happy with their service if they receive few complaints. Staff members are trained to manage challenging customer interactions to achieve the best outcome. But a more positive approach is to make an extra effort to make customers feel special. This point of view can have immediate and long-term results. While businesses with consistently poor service will ultimately close, those who truly understand what customers require in terms of service will win every time. Here are a few results from a survey conducted by Entrepreneur Magazine.

  • 97 percent of customers tell others when they receive very good or excellent service
  • 70 percent would spend more money at a business with excellent service
  • 24 percent will return to the same company two or more years after a good experience
  • 59 percent would leave a business and try a new one for better service

Delivering “one size fits all customer service” doesn’t work in this age of personalization and smartphone dependence. Store owners should tailor their customer service to accommodate the differing expectations of consumers based on generational preferences.

Baby Boomers, ages 58-76 (1946-1964)
Baby Boomers are the wealthiest generation. Sixty-seven percent prefer to make purchases in-store instead of online when possible. This group readily contacts businesses to receive service and support. So, it’s critical for operations to have a knowledgeable staff member who is readily available by phone to answer questions. Baby Boomers place a high value on flexibility and options. They also want to know details and information so there are no surprises. For this customer, exceptional service requires giving them information and offering them more than one option or solution. The person can then feel confident they are making an informed decision. Sixty-seven percent of Baby Boomers prefer to go in-store rather than order online.

Generation X, Ages 42-57 (1965-1980)
This generation is highly influenced by technology. Generation X feels empowered when they are heard and their requirements for good customer service are met. Retailers need to give timely responses to emails and requests for information. For Gen X, understanding goes a long way. They also conduct extensive research before purchasing products or services. So, online reviews play a crucial role in their purchasing decisions. Gen X likes to keep communications short and to the point, so sending them emails is an ideal choice.

  • Introduction by email is acceptable before conducting business
  • Willing to engage in live chats to access information
  • Offering self-service options is a welcomed convenience

Millennials, ages 26-41 (1981-1996)
Like Gen X, Millennials grew up with computers and easily adapted to technology. They are the largest generation. In terms of numbers, and are sought by retailers due to their buying power. These shoppers resent when retailers assume they are not informed and condescendingly speak to them. Millennials are very social and are conscious of tone when being addressed by salespersons. This group of consumers wants personalized experiences that enhance their lifestyles.

  • Use social media to make public comments about businesses and people
  • Want instant gratification and prefer products to be readily available
  • They like to depend on themselves, so self-service is the best option for limiting conversations
  • Adverse to phone—prefer social media, emails, and messaging

Generation Z, Ages 10-25 (1997-2012)
Born in a world connected to technology, Gen Z adults have very high expectations for customer service. They are the generation least likely to be happy about their customer experiences. However, they give high ratings to social media and retail stores. Gen Z adults enjoy face-to-face interactions and the in-store experience. They also expect “digital immediacy” and fast service from retailers. According to the Qualtronics XM Institute Survey, 98 percent of respondents shop in stores “some or most of the time.” Gen Z shoppers are not afraid to look for alternatives when brands fail to deliver on promises such as “fast delivery” or “excellent customer service. Omnichannel communications are most effective with this generation.

  • Twice as likely as Baby Boomers to say they should be treated better if they are new customers
  • Twenty-nine percent are four times more likely to be influenced by celebrities and public figures to decide what to buy compared to seven percent of Baby Boomers.
  • Like engaging in live chats, social media, and phone calls

The best way to attract and retain customers is to go beyond what is required to deliver exceptional service. Expectations evolve, and it’s up to retailers to understand what is needed to raise the bar to the next level.