Generation Z is making a rapid entry into consumerism. A few years ago, their spending was almost inconsequential, but today the under 21s of the word represent $143 billion in buying power. It’s no wonder Customer Experience teams are fixated on getting their feedback.
However, traditional customer feedback methods are coming up short with Gen Z — researchers are finding that they are not compelled to engage with a simple bullet survey and a few short response questions. That said, according to Accenture’s Gen Z report, 40 percent of the generation report that they provide feedback often or very often.
Where is the disconnect? Gen Z want their voices to be heard, but they are providing feedback in new and creative formats, leveraging social media and on-the-go devices. With a massive customer-base and the bottom line at stake, it is essential for Customer Experience professionals to hone their research methods and generate new ways to capture, analyze, and act on what these young customers are saying.
In order to gain and maintain a pulse on Gen Z’s thoughts, concerns, and confusions as customers, we need to understand them as people. We need to comprehend their tendencies and the ways in which they navigate the world.
Who is Gen Z?
We know that Gen Z are those under the age of 21, but here’s what you need to know in order to understand and engage with them as customers:
- They want their voices heard. As the earlier statistic indicates, at least 40 percent of Gen Z wants to provide feedback to their favorite brands and services. They understand the role they play in their own future and are happy to voice their opinions — but this vocalization is taking on new formats.
- Their world has always been digital. Gen Z grew up with iPhones in their hands and information at their fingertips. 75 percent of Gen Z has a mobile phone, meaning they expect to be able to communicate via mobile and be presented with multi-channel interaction. Their screens should be full of easily-digestible photos and videos.
- They are exceptionally social and mobile. In a recent survey of Gen Z’ers, 74 percent reported that they spend their free time online. Social media likely plays a large role in this percentage; with Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook providing the means for constant connectivity and interaction with both friends and brands.
- They expect personalization. These same social media platforms have formulated complex algorithms that fill Gen Z screens with specially curated content. This means they are also accustomed to viewing and digesting content that is certain to please.
How do we capture Gen Z’s feedback?
We now understand that, as a whole, Gen Z is driven by digital and on-the-go interaction. With this knowledge, below are four key ways Customer Experience professionals can collect data and insights from this generation, to then translate into company action.
1. Make it Mobile
Mobile and “on-the-go” should be top of mind when formulating your surveying method. In other words, if it is a survey you are releasing it must be short, very easy to read, and mobile-phone friendly.
Then narrow in on the question design. Since Gen Z is vocal and opinionated, allow the opportunity for freeform, unstructured feedback methods. Include open-ended questions where they can type, or even speak their feedback. Also, employ tools like text analytics to do the heavy lifting of analyzing such feedback. To go one step further, aim to capture multimedia alongside their freeform feedback.
2. Employ Rich Media
Take lessons from the social media platforms that Gen Z love — each of them provides a unique method to capture and publish rich media. Instagram and Snapchat allow users to share photos of life events or simple selfies with short captions; it is an instant and seamless process.
To get Gen Z’s engagement, your survey method must be visually stimulating and simple. Offer the opportunity to watch, or even record, a short video to provide their insight. Be creative in your ask and allow them the freedom to be creative in return. Perhaps they can record a video demonstrating their use of a product or create a meme to describe their experience. The possibilities you provide should reflect the forms of engagement they are already accustomed to using.
3. Leverage Location Tracking
Another lesson from social platforms is the clever use of location tracking. Snapchat uses location tracking to connect its users to one another. The app provides a map on which you can zoom in and see where a friend is, almost to the exact address. To foster a deeper sense of engagement, Customer Experience and Research professionals should employ a similar tactic, driven by in-the-moment and location-triggered technology.
Retailers, for example, should be leveraging beacon devices. This technology can be placed within a storefront and track a customer’s pathway through the store using a Bluetooth to smartphone connection. The device will follow the customer’s path-to-purchase and, if they stop at a hotspot within the store, a push notification for feedback will pop up on the customer’s phone.
A unique example of this is a theme park leveraging beacon technology, to target younger audiences and capture real-time social insights and data collection for feedback. This “ping” method of surveying enables real-time feedback and communication; in other words, it is a goldmine for customer insights.
4. Offer Incentivize
In the social media world, “likes” and status matter — it is a form of incentivization that can be addicting to users. An innovative feedback method will mimic or directly leverage these social media platforms, allowing its users to achieve a status and interact with other users. It will make providing opinions and commentary interactive and enjoyable. Perhaps it will take the form of a proprietary app and ping customers with notifications.
Learning from already successful social platforms that Gen Z regularly engages with can only play to a company’s benefit. Young customers can seem a mystery at first, but by honing in on their day-to-day activity we can learn and leverage their habits. Customer Experience teams need to employ new and more creative research methods to garner the insights they need, but that is the exciting challenge Gen Z is providing. They are creative and adept, and they want the same from the brands to which they are loyal.