“Companies who don’t understand how future customers think, find information, transact, and communicate wind up as relics.” @weisesarah
By all accounts, Gen Z consumers, usually defined as those born between 1997 and 2015, are different from any that we’ve known before. According to Bloomberg these digital natives will comprise 32% of the global population in 2019. Born with a phone in hand, estimates place the generation as online up to 10 hours a day with fluid interaction between online and offline channels.
This digital savvy multi-channel content-on-demand generation finds nothing novel or even particularly innovative in today’s apps. In fact, they are harsh critics when it comes to any digital experience, since they base their judgement against the best experiences they’ve ever had.
“74% say that brands need to meet up with the expectations set by the best digital experiences the customer has ever had.” Forrester 2018 Research
Gen Z has seen it all. They are relatively ‘old souls’ when it comes to digital experiences. These experiences aren’t just about pre-sale purchase experiences, but increasingly about actual pragmatic product use and support. This places pressure on companies to increasingly invest in and engage in post-purchase content in new ways.
PDFs, poorly curated forums, call centers and online FAQs no longer address the demands of Gen Z.
Create value. It’s not about the buying it’s about the using.
Generation Z defines consumption by use rather than ownership.
McKinsey notes, “As access becomes the new form of consumption, unlimited access to goods and services (such as car-riding services, video streaming, and subscriptions) creates value. Products become services, and services connect consumers.”
Traditional products and services increasingly need to consider the whole experience of use as equally important to the specific things they sell. This essentially changes the value balance whereby every product is also implicitly a service – one-on-one customer experiences online.
Implications for products and product content: With increasing numbers of products IoT enabled with related app experiences, product and service companies need to consider product use as of equal importance to the customer experience as their own website for information.
- Constant connectivity
- Ready access to information
- Function over form
Create access. It’s not about how much content you have, it’s about how quickly they can find it.
Gen Z has been bombarded by content options from birth. In response, they have become lightning fast content curators, deciding in seconds whether the content they are looking for meets their needs.
For this generation, product information, guidance and customer support on digital devices is the assumption not a bonus. 60% of Gen Zers describe their ideal brand as a company that is easy to contact when they have a problem.
“Each generation comes with a unique set of behaviors and presents a unique set of challenges for those looking to reach them. Gen Z are bombarded with messages and are a generation that can quickly detect whether or not something is relevant to them,” according to a report by research firm Nielsen Holdings Plc. For Gen Z, it means embracing IoT, live chat, chat bots and voice query activated content.
Implications for products and product content: Gen Z’s 8-second filter enables them to quickly take in and parse information. This means that product content needs to be immediately accessible on any channel, well-structured and if possible, fully integrated into actual product use. Self-service options are a natural fit for this audience who are adept searchers and information curators.
Today’s company needs to be responsive on any device or channel, providing:
- Highly searchable content.
- Immediately identifiable, relevant and personalized answers.
- Cross-channel/device connectivity.
Create credibility. It’s not about what a product says about itself, it’s about what the community says.
Gen Z has grown up with social media, with instant and continual communication often across multiple devices and platforms. In fact, this generation doesn’t distinguish between the so called ‘real world’ and digital channels. What their peers say, what real people experience, is more important than what a brand says about itself.
89% of Gen Z are willing to promote a brand after a positive customer experience. With 92% sustaining multiple social media platforms, this means that the post-sale customer experience matters, turning users into brand advocates.
This calls for fully integrated pre- and post-purchase customer experiences that are fully integrated with their social channels and preferred ways of interacting.
Implications for products, product content and support: According to a study by Zendesk, Inc., one-third of social media users prefer social media for simple inquiries. Fundamental to this is not only the topics your customers are looking for, but also content in their own language.
Provide access to peer-to-peer support for direct inquiries to your brand:
- Real-time conversation reflects how Gen Z gets things done.
- Communities built on commonality.
- By hosting communities for support, online brands gain from real-world insight in how people use their products and services and what they want out of that experience.
- Remove language as a barrier by increasing multilingual content availability for global customers.
B2B & B2C: the same rules apply
These rules apply across both B2C (where most of this generation currently falls) but also has implications for this upcoming generation of workers and decision makers in B2B environments.
Ease of use guided by in-the-moment guidance, easily findable content and community peer-to-peer support will be the hallmark of companies with successful long-term engagement strategies. Improvements that take into account the expectations of this generation, will have a long-term positive impact for every consumer and business customer, not just Gen Zers.
How you can prepare
- Consider modular format-free content management such as a component content management system (CCMS). This will allow you to deliver content in multiple formats and in the smaller bitesize content chunks Generation Z expects.
- Consider future requirements for chatbots, IoT and integrated product use guidance that is delivered through your CCMS as centralized, modularized, always-current and multilingual content.
- Language matters and is the most fundamental form of personalization. Consider automated translation platforms such as machine translation. Vast improvements made through neural machine translation are now delivering near human-fluent translated content that will allow you to leverage community knowledge, and vastly reduces the costs of delivering multilingual content.