Customer service is a crucial component of any organization’s success. If a company fails to provide its customer base with effective assistance, the business is going to suffer. Unhappy customers do not remain loyal to businesses that cannot solve their problems or address their complaints. One key part of effective customer service involves understanding generational differences among customers. Different generations have different attitudes and expectations about interacting with company representatives.
Four separate generations are currently buying products and services from American companies. These are the Silent Generation, the Baby Boomers (or Boomers), Generation X and Millennials. Each of these groups has its own unique characteristics. Companies need to keep these generational differences in mind when training customer service representatives. Treating each group the same may lead to misunderstandings and a higher rate of unsuccessful customer interactions.
The Silent Generation, which includes parents of Boomers and Generation X members, is the oldest group. One key characteristic of this group is respect for authority. Those in this age group also value human interaction over digital communication. They believe in being forthright and honest. To deal successfully with members of this generation, customers service workers need to be as open as possible, avoid sales pitches and talk in clearly understandable language.
The next oldest group, the Boomers, is a somewhat more demanding demographic. They want all of their question answered and are somewhat skeptical of authority. Boomers are also quite inquisitive and may ask a lot of questions about company policies. Customer service employees need to prepare for these type of questions and have the answers at hand.
Generation X is well-known for its practical approach to life. They are focused on results and are not as concerned about courtesy as their elders. The niceties of social interaction are not as crucial with this demographic as they are with the Silent Generation, for example. Customer service representatives dealing with members of this group need to focus on solving the customer’s problem in the most efficient way possible.
The youngest demographic, the Millennials, is completely comfortable living in the digital world and using a variety of digital devices. This group uses the Internet for all sorts of reasons in their daily lives, and they do a lot of their shopping and purchasing online. They may prefer to have a conversation with someone in customer service by text rather than over the phone or in person. Having representatives who are able to solve a customer’s problems over devices such as smartphones, laptops and digital tablets is a must when dealing with Millennials.
Every generation has its own particular preferences. By understanding the quirks of each demographic, customer service departments can successfully cater to each generation on its own terms.
Photo courtesy of Jun's World at Flickr.com