Talkin’ ‘bout My Generation: How to Support the Customer Journey for Baby Boomers to Gen Z

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Customer experience (CX) preferences throughout the consumer journey can be generational, as my company, TELUS International, found in a recent survey. However, there are times when the differences may not be as stark as one may think. For instance, older generations (55% of Baby Boomers and 67% of Gen X) are almost as likely as younger generations (78% of Millennials and 77% of Gen Z) to be influenced by social media ads when contemplating a purchase. Interestingly, the older generations are more apt to say artificial intelligence (AI) has a positive impact on how they view a brand and is most likely to grow their loyalty.

With some generational divides among today’s consumers, it’s clear companies need to consider how they can adapt their CX strategy based on the customer demographic they are courting. Here are five ways brands can develop a customer journey strategy that adheres to each generation’s preferences.

1. Don’t dismiss the power of social media across all generations, even Baby Boomers

When considering how to reach consumers on social media, brands would be wise to ensure they are targeting all age groups, not just those who are younger as our survey results found that 50% of Baby Boomers are influenced by social media ads. Further, even though Baby Boomers were least likely to have made a purchase from a social media ad in the past year, nearly half (48%) still did. By not targeting this demographic, brands are missing the opportunity to engage potential customers who could be just as interested and likely to purchase through an ad they encounter browsing their preferred social channels.

In true form, our survey found that Gen Z respondents were the most likely to make purchases stemming from social media ads, with 79% having made at least one and 18% making at least six.

With nearly one in five Gen Z respondents making more than five purchases through social media each year, brands should prioritize reaching these consumers where they are spending.

2. Prioritize influencing and moderating online reviews

Online reviews play a critically important role in influencing today’s purchasing decisions. Our survey found that respondents across all generations consult online reviews before making a purchase. This is especially true of Millennials with 91% saying they consult them at least some of the time and more than half (56%) saying they consult them all the time. Additionally, positive reviews are most influential to Millennials’ (91%) and Baby Boomers’ (92%) purchasing decisions as compared to 77% of Gen Z’s and 86% of Gen X’s.

Consumers are not only referencing online reviews, they are also considering whether to write them. The majority (75%) of all consumers surveyed are likely to leave a review, post on social media, or create some other form of user-generated content (UGC) if they have a positive customer experience.

Keeping in mind that reviews have an impact on purchasing decisions, brands need to be attuned to what is being posted about them online, especially if their target demographic is Millennials. Moderating this content will inform where the brand can improve the customer experience. By utilizing the negative comments and reviews, brands can direct and drive improvements and also engage proactively with good reviews to build customer relationships.

In addition to providing outstanding customer service, consider what kind of incentives can be given to customers to encourage them to leave a review; for example discount codes or early access to an upcoming sale.

3. Automate processes to please and retain customers

Automation has become an important part of the customer journey as the majority of survey respondents (65%) across all age groups expect at least part of their customer journey to be automated versus having to interact with a human. More specifically, Gen Z (46%), Gen X (53%) and Baby Boomer (60%) respondents indicated that real-time help powered by AI has the most positive impact on how they view a brand and is most likely to grow their loyalty. Further, Millennials also take automation very seriously as 72% are likely to make repeat purchases and 71% are likely to recommend a brand if it uses AI to improve their customer experience.

With more than half of American consumers expecting to have a customer experience with at least some automation, brands who aren’t using or incorporating AI in their customer journey strategy could be doing themselves a disservice, especially to Millennials who greatly value automation and AI.

And what’s not to love about automation? It can also deliver faster, more seamless customer experiences, ultimately resulting in a faster average handle time (AHT) and ultimately, a higher customer satisfaction (CSAT) score. It is an investment that all customer-oriented brands should focus on.

4. Expand on positive ways the brand can gain loyalty

Brands can generate further loyalty by engaging and investing in activities that gain consumer trust and respect. For example, supporting community causes, offering environmentally friendly products, and having strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies are proven to have results outside of just making the world a better place. They are also most likely to influence Millennials’ brand loyalty (65%), compared to just 49% of Baby Boomers’. Therefore, if a brand is geared primarily toward Millennial consumers, it would be wise to bring its values to life with more ESG messaging through its offerings and messaging with customers.

Beyond ESG, the survey also found that nearly a quarter of global respondents (24%), said they are more likely to purchase from a brand if it has a loyalty program. Half (50%) of respondents said they could be influenced, depending on program perks ranging from additional discounts (42%) to free products (26%). Be sure to offer customers perks that actually interest them to generate brand loyalty that lasts.

5. Create a customer journey that never ends

A good customer journey strategy does not end at the point of purchase. In fact, respondents said that good customer service following a purchase (such as short wait times and easy exchange/return processes), is most likely to lead to future ones, according to 93% of Baby Boomers, 91% of Millennials, 89% of Gen X and 81% of Gen Z.

Consumers don’t want to be just another transaction to brands, but rather a valued relationship throughout every interaction. Going the next step through offering personalized, swift and effective support will largely pay off by way of returning customers of all generations, especially Baby Boomers.

Don’t underestimate the value of a great customer experience

More than half (62%) of all survey respondents said they are most likely to speak poorly about a brand if they receive bad customer service. This was more so than a poor experience with a purchased product (56%) and exposure to inappropriate or offensive UGC (35%). Take the tips and data above to provide a customer journey that meets the preferences of consumers of each generation to ensure your brand does not end up losing customers, and ultimately, market share.

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