CX Starts With a Z

How Generations Differ With Customer Experience

Think back to when you were a little kid. Was it 10 years ago, or 20? Even 30 or more? What was the digital landscape like? I could ask you some questions to try and guess your age. Questions like:

  • Do you know how BAUD impacted your speed of communication?
  • Did ‘the internet’ make an annoying beeping noise when you first used it?
  • Do you know what a modem is?
  • Do you only have an email address because apps or channels forced you to?
  • When you see a screen, do you first expect touching it triggers something?
  • Did you watch videos on YouTube when you first started using the internet?
  • Do you know your LOLz from your ROFL’s and when IRL are you mostly AFK?

Gen Z Kid with Tablet

You can probably think of many more questions. In fact, it’s fun to find more with friends in a bar, and maybe even test them out on the local patrons? The answers to these types of questions tend to illustrate the characteristics and experience of generations. People tend to think and act from their own generation—it makes sense.

  • Matures (Greatest/Silent) – Born before 1945
  • Baby Boomers – Born between 1946 – 1964
  • Gen X – Born between 1965 -1981
  • Gen Y (Millennials) – Born between 1982 – 2004
  • Gen Z (Homeland Generation) – Born between 2005 – Present

What do these generations have to do with customer experience? Well its easy. If you as a marketer are responsible for CX strategy, how can you adapt to various age brackets, especially generations outside of your own? Just as consumers are influenced by their generations, marketers are too; preventing bias is essential.

Children Hold the Future

When your customer experience is tailored for Gen X and based on getting the right content in the right email (adaptive in real time), it will work great for Gen X and drive improved ROI. But is that ROI story cross-generation adaptive? Will the upcoming Gen Z also read these highly adaptive emails? What do emails or the email channel mean to them? When you installed Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, you’ll notice you primarily need to register with an email address… who came up with that idea?

Don’t worry, your ROI is likely not driven directly by Gen Z just yet, so you’re safe and happy sending Real-Time Adaptive Emails and using other current adaptive marketing techniques to target the other generations for the time being.

Gen Z is mostly too young to subscribe to your services, buy your products, or utilize your services. However, your brand and revenue are likely already impacted by this generation indirectly; at 25% of the US population, these “kids” are influencing the purchasing decisions of their Gen X and Gen Y parents.

Gen Z has had constant and fast access to the internet from a very young age, whereas their parents experienced much of life without internet at all, or at least not fast connections. Our youngest generation expects internet to just be there—there being everywhere. 77% of them own a cell phone, most of which are smartphone varieties. Digital technology and the internet are integrated in their daily life and even used to gain social skills which they apply in real life (IRL).

Marketing to Generation Z

So, what do you need to understand about Gen Z? I have a few examples, to help you better understand their core attitude and approach:

They’re very self-aware, and don’t care for blatant Photoshopping. When using imagery, don’t bother pixel polishing to perfection; Gen Z appreciates the authenticity of un-retouched, realistic representations of people.

How is your emoji game? We suggest you brush up on it to communicate most effectively with a generation raised on smartphones. But beware: They should be relevant and on demand, not thrown in as an afterthought to target Gen Z. They view this as lazy marketing or tacky efforts to reach them. In other words, lame.

The customer attention span of current purchasing generations is only 8 seconds. How much do you think that will dwindle as Gen Z comes into the market in full force? Real-time for this generation is not minutes or hours, it’s instantaneous. You’ll need the ability to adapt your messaging to Gen Z (and every other generation) in mere milliseconds.

So, will CX start with a Z in your future?

If you’re ready to start adapting, we can help.

Happy Gen Z girl with smartphone

Dennis Dofferhoff, Alterian

Dennis Dofferhoff, Sr. Business Solutions Consultant & Global Team Lead

Dennis brings more than 20 years of experience from digital channel and content management as well as marketing technology. This background is optimal to support his global team as we help Adaptive Marketers solve business problems and discover new opportunities. Dennis is a subject matter expert, and works on unique pre- and post-sales solutions for customers.

Dennis is a Dutchman, though the name “Dofferhoff” looks more German. He’s the proud father of two young boys, and enjoys spending time with them and his wife going sailing, skiing, and playing field hockey.