Every customer is different – some love exploring new technology, some don’t, and some are indifferent, ready to use it when they need to.

This is why taking a one-size-fits-all approach to customer service rarely works. For example, millennials tend to be more demanding when it comes to customer experience, having grown up with everything at their fingertips. They want to seamlessly navigate channels without breaking their mental or physical strides. There’s no room for anything short of an easy and excellent experience. 

Other generations, on the other hand, may be more patient as they’ve come to almost expect customer service to be a challenge and can be resistant to new ways of communicating. 

So how can organisations serve a diverse user base, without creating massive overheads or hiring staff with specialised roles for different demographics?

Understanding the difference

Recent research produced with analyst house IDC divides people into three distinct areas when it comes to customer support, each with a different attitude to technology: tech laggards, tech compliant folks, and tech leaders.

Tech laggards aren’t particularly fond of adopting new tech, most closely identify with baby boomers, are four times more likely to report a bad experience with customer service. They generally believe that customer support teams don’t understand their questions.

Tech leaders, most closely tied to millennials, are eager to adopt new technology, and will report positive experiences with customer service. Sitting in the middle we have the tech compliant folks – they’re not in love with the idea of adopting new tech, but can they do it easily if they want to, and most closely identify with Generation X.

Research from ORC International suggests that different age groups are engaging with digital customer service differently. For example, only two percent of older generations have even heard the term chatbot, compared to 47 percent of millennials. Of those surveyed, only eight percent of older generations were favourable to the idea of chatbots, compared with 27 percent for younger generations. In fact, 39 percent of millennials believed chatbots would provide better customer service than a human operator.

Uniting the generations

It’s no easy task figuring out how to support different generations of consumers and user types, but it’s by no means insurmountable. Catering to all these separate demographics means knowing who they are, how they want to communicate and doing your best to support channel choice.  

Most customers – across the generational spectrum – engage with brands in various ways. Whether it’s through the phone, via email, on social media, live chat on the website, or a combination, it’s important for brands to be able to provide a consistent and personal experience on each of those channels individually and a connected experience as customers move from one to the next.    

These expectations don’t necessarily correlate to age as much as they do experience. Regardless of what generation you may identify with, once you’ve had a truly delightful Customer Experience with one company, you start asking yourself why ever other company have not followed suit. 

This puts companies in all industries under the microscope and increases pressure to deliver a better experience than not only their competitors, but all companies that are raising the customer experience bar. All it takes is one bad experience to drive a customer away and into the arms of the competition.

With so much riding on Customer Experience, how can companies keep up? This is where Artificial Intelligence comes into play.

The AI-transformed Customer Experience

There’s a lot of hype around AI right now, but it truly has been a game changer for CX.  On the backend, AI can effectively process and analyse the vast amounts of customer data to help identify current pain points in the customer journey and offer actionable insights that help companies optimise around those areas. 

It can quickly gather information on customer preferences and history to help agents offer a truly personalised service experience. And on the front-end, AI-powered self-service solutions like chatbots and dynamic search bars are empowering customers to self-serve where appropriate. This helps move repetitive and simple questions away from the agent and opens them up for the customers who really need (or want) – that human touch.

In the end, the Customer Experience is only as good as the people delivering it. While the generations may want to communicate in different ways, the expectations are quickly becoming the same: fast, simple, and effective service.  Whether that is delivered through a contact centre or via an AI-powered chatbot – the experience needs to be personal and delightful. Different generations may have different thoughts on what good music is, or who had it harder growing up, etc. but one thing we can all agree on is when customer service is everything we want it to be, we all win.

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