Miles Davis once remarked after a gig, “It’s not about the notes you play, it’s about the ones you don’t.”

We are in an era where the consumer experience is not solely about the emotions one feels. Far more crucial is the ability to manage what a person does not feel and the rational conclusions they ultimately do not arrive at. 

Within these voids lie differentiation from competitors and deep market niches amidst chaotic decisions and spontaneous reactions. To manage what the user should not feel requires a deep understanding of the anthropology and sociology of at least two groups – the most active online service users today – Gen-Y and Gen-Z.

The onboarding experience for Zoomers (Gen-Z) coincides with numerous economic, ecological, and existential challenges. Consciousness in production and consumption has become not just a temporary trend but a new reality. Sustainability should be understood broadly, from careful internal communications within a company to its impact on the local community. This defines sustainable development and is valued in our unstable times. Zoomers are disillusioned with traditional pillars like Christianity, capitalism, and democracy. Instead, they begin to believe in the original: conspiracy theories, UFOs, marxism, or the idea that AI is a savior. This audience is skeptical and sophisticated; only honest and transparent marketing works, which is good news for those who create something of quality, value, and truly understand what they are actually  doing. Surprisingly, this audience is more open to external (heil to Big Bro!) and self-regulation.

Customer support is innately human

There are fundamentally different expectations from any service between Gen-Z and Gen-Y. Instead of building a bridge by offering a universal solution (which I call a ‘teaffee’ – a terrible mixture of tea and coffee), offer two distinct flows.

Gen Z views AI as a superpower and a mental “exoskeleton” capable of accelerating thought and adding knowledge, again, to rectify the local situation. This has been recognized by Google and Amazon, who have introduced premium versions of their AI assistants.

On the other hand, Gen Y is more skeptical of AI. Perhaps this is due to having witnessed the birth and infancy of AI products. Y’s does not see AI as a savior and reacts negatively when, instead of getting an answer to a question in chat, they receive a questionnaire from a bot. Personally, I still value our support team and believe in human-to-human interaction. One can view this cynically – Generation Y has the money, while Generation Z gets it from their parents. On the other hand, empathy and the speed of receiving a useful answer remain the core values of any support team.

Imagine something incredibly tedious, like tax consultations or managing contractor payroll. Just writing this makes me yawn. Yet, these topics cause immense stress for freelancers and HR departments. When such inquiries reach our support team, we must drop everything else, like scrolling reels, and dive deep into the individual case. Typically, the request is formulated not like a prompt but rather unevenly and abruptly – only a human could understand it. The response must also be crafted in a way that clearly guides the person on what to do next.

Digital nomads are so 2020

While digital nomads are more common in Gen Y, Gen Z prefers the opposite approach: trying to change the situation locally instead of fleeing in search of something better. This is why it’s crucial that your job offer or product advertisement gives the applicant or consumer a sense of being able to make a difference in the world around them.

Hiring a Gen-Y employee must include:

  • Emotion. Boring interviews with a standard questionnaire decrease the attractiveness of your employer brand.
  • From the first meeting, show how the applicant can impact the lives of people, communities, and the entire world.
  • Avoid automating onboarding. Engage in a human game: provide a mentor, show all departments, talk about the company’s journey and why this candidate is a perfect fit for the company’s new plans.

The user experience for Gen-Y in IT products today should demonstrate:

  • Innovative solutions in a very simple package (substance over form).
  • Adaptability rather than universality (the user is an individual, not a statistic).
  • Ensure sensory-first experiences are front-and-center. Use oversized graphics on landing pages to startle, engage, and introduce awe into the online shopping journey. Visuals like materials, displays, and props must be unsettling and alluring.

Arbonum use case

Aiming at the audience of publishers and computer game developers, we tried to turn our marketing materials and customer onboarding into a sort of game. Logical, right? Well, it isn’t. 

A relatively young generation of managers, producers, and art directors in this industry prefer a highly exaggerated presentation of product functions, brightness against text blindness. The wrapping in the form of industrial terms is irrelevant. We redesigned the website and reimagined the onboarding path so that from the first contact, the user understands our superpower, how the product will help improve their life daily, not just faster/cheaper/more fun solve a problem that could be solved in a hundred other ways. This way, we reduced customer onboarding from three weeks to two days. And human customer support does not just answer questions but communicates in a way that makes the user feel part of a like-minded community.

Word-of-mouth has to be well-directed

For me, the main outcome of the experiment was that we brought to the surface communication that we had not seen before. By attracting customers through word-of-mouth, we would never have learned about those who were recommended to us but ultimately did not come to us. We offer users materials and tips on how to recommend us and what superpower a new user will get, not just relying on random recommendations.

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