Customer Service Needs of Every Generation Aren't as Different as You Think

Many financial institutions seek to attract Millennials and Zoomers (Gen Z) with digital-first solutions, including self-service options that give customers more control over their online experience. At the same time, some fear alienating Baby Boomers and Gen X by leaning into online services too quickly. There’s a general assumption that older generations are averse to digital technologies, preferring to call a business instead of engaging online. 

These concerns are highly unfounded, though, as older generations continue to embrace digital technologies. Take social media, where Boomers are the fastest growing demographic on Facebook today according to Pew Research. Statistics show they are shopping more online too. And despite what conventional wisdom says, they are increasingly gravitating toward Digital Customer Service (DCS).

An upstate New York credit union learned this first hand from an 81-year-old member. Prompted to try the chat feature while waiting to speak to a representative, she went online and had what she described as a great experience. So good, in fact, that she promised to tell her friends how easy chat was after swearing never to call back into the contact center again. 

A regional bank in Connecticut was able to help a customer in his 90s get the information he required online through CoBrowsing, a feature that enables reps to collaboratively guide online visitors. He too raved about the highly positive digital experience. This validated the bank’s choice of DCS to support customers of all ages. 

While we marvel at how quickly younger generations pick up new technologies, we forget that Baby Boomers and Gen X were the pioneers who ushered in the digital age in the first place. These are the generations that gave us personal computers, the Internet and mobile devices—the very foundation of today’s digital technology. 

Millennials and Zoomers may be quicker to embrace new digital solutions as they emerge, but the underlying principle for their ultimate adoption remains the same across all generations: Solutions that simplify engagements and enhance the customer experience are broadly accepted by every age group.

Solutions that simplify engagements and enhance the customer experience are broadly accepted by every age group.

In fact, each generation contributes to improving the customer experience and its evolution over time. Boomers invented the call center during a time where getting an account balance over the phone was a radical concept. 

Gen X built upon the call center—literally—by adding email and chat support to create the multi-channel contact center.

The problem was that email and chat applications were simply bolted onto the call center with little to no integration. Customers could either email, phone or chat. Millennials wanted a more efficient customer experience and gave us the omnichannel contact center concept. The idea was to create integration between the various digital channels for a more connected experience.

Unfortunately, omnichannel expectations were never fully realized. While there is some limited integration between channels, often customers are still asked to call into the financial institution when an issue cannot be fully resolved in chat, for example. The downfall of omnichannel is that despite efforts to integrate the digital channels, it is still essentially a phone-first solution. As evidenced by the high volume of customers who need to make a phone call to a representative after trying a digital approach.

Which brings us to the Zoomers, who are forging a whole new, fully digital-first approach to the customer experience. They want the ability to simply transition from one digital channel to another. From SMS to chat or video, for instance. One seamless experience across all channels, with no awkward device change needed.

This ChannelLess™ customer service approach is a new innovation, developed by Glia, that enables a seamless experience across the entire digital engagement, without ever breaking the digital connection. 

Aligning to the digital-first expectations of Millennials and Zoomers, ChannelLess™ customer service is also delivering the personalized one-to-one experience that all generations value. From Zoomers checking their balance or claim status on their mobile phone between classes to Boomers deciding to give chat a chance rather than wait on the phone, Glia’s Digital Customer Service solution, powered by the ChannelLess™ architecture, is changing the game.

For a fun, visual representation of the contribution each generation has made to the customer experience, check out our infographic Customer Service Across Generations – From Boomers to Zoomers.