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Attitude, not Age, Defines Different Generations of Customers

By June 28, 2018 August 13th, 2018 No Comments

Far too often marketing researchers and other such analysts would have us view our customers in various groups and demographics, producing studies that help businesses better market to Generation X, or Gen Y, or Gen Z, or the Millennials, Baby Boomers, or, heck, even the classic “Greatest Generation.”

Having such varied age groups is supposed to come with radically varied expectations as well, as the latest trend in marketing and customer service is how best to reach the Millennial generation, a group defined by their constant connection, their distracted nature, their demand for immediate answers, and their general impatience.

But what I’ve seen is actually quite different, that Millennials are as varied as any other age demographic, and that the changing face of customer expectations is not limited to simply one age group, but in fact it transcends age and includes all people who are increasingly embracing the realities of digital communication.

So instead of thinking how businesses can reach different generations of customers, we need to start thinking of how we can reach what one analyst has insightfully called, “Generation Customer.”

While I admit that I’ve often deployed such age-related categories myself when thinking about customer service and marketing, the more I think about it the more I’m coming to realize that such thinking is both arbitrary and ineffective, with our society often times glorifying the way things used to be, while simultaneously ignoring or insulting the way things are. But the more we try to lump certain customers together by stereotyping tendencies, the more I think we do a disservice to people, to the actual individuals who are trying to interact with our businesses.

Now that’s not to say that customer expectations aren’t changing, but that such changes aren’t limited to a particular age group. Those in “Generation Customer” can indeed be seen as those looking to get the information they want, and how they want it; those looking to connect with businesses through any or all of a host of different communication channels, and those who want assistance exactly when they need it and not a moment before. But if you think that just young people are looking to interact with businesses this way, well you’d be dead wrong.

While we could argue whether or not the Millennial generation got us going on the path towards increased digitization and the associated change in expectations and communication styles, there is no question that such changing expectations now radically transcend demographics and includes people of all age groups and generations.

Today people of all ages have discovered that there are a variety of ways to connect to a company, and not only are they becoming comfortable with such a multi-channel approach, they’ve come to expect and demand it as well.

So the next time you find yourself thinking about how to reach this demographic or that generation, stop for a moment and realize the futility of such thinking, and realize that offering a comprehensive, multi-channel approach to marketing and customer service (with an emphasis on service I might add) is quite possibly the best way to truly embrace the digital age and to meet the changing expectations of “Generation Customer.”

Jeff Wiener

Digitcom

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