How CSS Leaders Can Harness 4 Pillars of Gen Z and Millennial Customer Service Behavior


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Millennial and Gen Z consumers are quickly coming into their own regarding buying power, as they now make up the largest consumer segment worldwide. With the great financial power that they now wield comes great responsibility for customer service and support (CSS) leaders to make sure they address the unique behaviors this younger coalition exhibits, keeping them happy and returning to their company for more business.

A recent Gartner survey found that both Millennial and Gen Z exhibit four behaviors along their customer service journeys that CSS leaders should ultimately address as they evolve their service strategies to align with the expectations of these demographic groups.

Behavior One: Independent Thinkers

Nearly half of all millennials (50.1 percent) and Gen Z (48.8 percent) expect to resolve their customer service issues on their own, a much higher percentage than their baby boomer counterparts (33.1 percent). With this in mind, a majority of both millennials (66.3 percent) and Gen Z (77.5 percent) use third-party information, such as YouTube and TikTok, to resolve their issue as a first step.

This illustrates that while these customers are driving higher expectations in terms of digital service and mobile platforms, they are also independent problem solvers who expect to resolve most customer service issues on their own.

Behavior Two: Buying the Upsell

While millennials and Gen Zers can be a price-conscious consumer segment, more than half of millennial (57.9 percent) and Gen Z (60.5 percent) customers have a neutral or positive outlook when a customer service organization tries to sell them another product or service. Only around 30 percent of younger customers surveyed responded that they dislike cross-sell or upsell as part of their service journey.

What’s more is that 57 percent of millennials surveyed actually made a purchase after receiving information about an additional product during their customer service interaction. This illustrates that this segment is accustomed to personalized advertising embedded in their digital experiences and the ability to comparison-shop in real time, including during online service interactions.

Behavior Three: Trust Issues

Millennial and Gen Z customers may be vigilant about spotting spam and scam emails, however they are also more likely to misidentify legitimate company outreach as malicious. More than 52 percent of millennials and 40 percent of Gen Z consumers identified legitimate company outreach as scam or spam.

Furthermore, among millennials who responded to proactive outreach, 17.9 percent did so to verify that the communication was legitimate. An abundance of caution about security can drive down the effectiveness of proactive customer engagement and drive up unnecessary call volume as customers contact the company.

Behavior Four: Comfortable in Front of the Camera

Millennial and Gen Z customers prefer to avoid phone contact whenever possible, but they express a growing interest in video chat as a B2B service platform. These customers, who will comprise 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, are accustomed to video calls as fundamental to the hybrid workplace. If given the option, 74 percent of B2B millennial and Gen Z respondents would choose to interact with a representative by video chat.

So how can CSS leaders align their strategies to these takeaways? I believe there are four main actions they can take to address these behaviors and assess how their service strategies align with the expectations of these demographic groups:

    Integrate third-party sources of information as a key component in their overall strategy. This includes designating community ambassadors in popular forums and reaching out to individual content creators to collaborate
    Include opportunities for additional purchases in their digital self-service platforms, where younger customers prefer to resolve their issues. Maintain an awareness of competitor pricing in order to provide matching offers to customers who are comparison shopping while in self-service.
    Only send outreach from an email address that is clearly identifiable as legitimate. Ensure that your outreach email can be found on your Contact Us page and that it appears in search engine results so customers can verify it.
    Field video inquiries where relationships matter. Enterprises may find value in the personalized touch when handling high-value clients or upset clients, or onboarding new clients.

As millennial and Gen Z customers bring these distinct behaviors to customer service journeys, those CSS leaders that pivot appropriately will be the best prepared to harness the buying power they ultimately wield.

Michael Rendelman
Michael Rendelman is a senior research specialist in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice.


  1. This research reinforces our research in multiple ways. CCMC’s 2021 Delight Study found that all customer segments are delighted by appropriate cross-sells and, besides 40% acting on the cross-sell, about the same percentage will pay more for that company’s offerings. Likewise, we found that all age categories have the highest levels of delight from service provided via video chat. Finally, we found that proactively warning customers about product limitations builds trust and positive word of mouth while reducing problem occurrence. The best time to do this education is during customer onboarding, which is the most poorly performed function in most companies.


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