Horses for courses: how age demographics influence preferred communication channels

Deciding which channels of communication to use for customer service in your contact centre and in the workplace for employees is a minefield as it is, without throwing age into the mix. But age demographics play an important role, and there’s no denying that. The era we grew up in helps to influence how comfortable we are with using certain technology, and which communication channels we would rather avoid.

Horses for courses. If you have a wide and varied demographic, it’s important to give your customers choice as well as to educate them about using the alternative channels. After all, there’s no point making it an impossible task to get through to an agent if half your customers will only speak with customer service agents on the phone as opposed to a self-serve robot. Here are the notable takeaways when considering age demographics in your business communications strategies.

The UK population is ageing

People are living longer than in previous years. Thanks to advancing healthcare and a better understanding about lifestyle choices, the UK population is aging.

The National Office for Statistics note that the percentage of people who were aged 65 and over was up to one in five (18.2%), in comparison to 1997, where it was on in every six people (15.9%). This is projected to increase to one in every four people (24%) by 2037.

This is essential to consider when planning out your communications Digital Transformation, it’s important to not move at a pace that is too fast and technologically advanced for the aging population. Your customers might not be ready for the bots just yet.

Baby Boomers prefer the telephone and are risk-adverse with new technology

Having grown up in the age of the telephone on the rise, Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964), favour this method of communication. This generation like to be able to get directly through to a contact centre agent. No fuss, no complicated process, just straight through. Your self-serve call centre menu may be something that takes time for this generation to get used to. So it’s important that it’s reliable and that the menu is easy to navigate to avoid your customers getting frustrated and looking elsewhere for your product or service.

In the workplace, you’ll probably find that this generation are likely to favour a face-to-face meeting for larger projects. And when you’re making important decisions, rightly so! Resistance to change may also be a determining factor of how Baby Boomers like to be communicated with. Having grown up without widespread technology, they are digital immigrants. This means they are likely to be more risk-adverse to introducing new technology into the contact centre and workplace. They realise embracing technology like the cloud isn’t a choice anymore, it’s a must-have. But this generation just want to ensure that it’s implemented properly and that the risk is mitigated.

Generation X are lovers of email (and the telephone!)

For Generation X-ers (born 1965-1980), their first method of communication when it comes to customer service is also likely to be to pick up the phone and start dialling. However unlike their Baby Boomer predecessors, Generation X are more accustomed to the idea of self-serve. So they will not be alarmed by a bot at the other end of the phone to help direct their call.

They embrace technology, outpacing Millennials in tablet ownership and following them closely in smartphone ownership and social media adoption. They were the first generation to grow up with computers, email is intrinsically woven into their communication preferences. In the workplace, you might find the Generation Xers resisting newer forms of communication and collaboration such as OneDrive, Microsoft Teams and Slack. Their instinct is not to Google how to do something, but to seek out help within the company. Leaving them to their own devices with technology will not get the best from them. Better to set up training videos to feed them with ideas on how to get the best from the technology.

Millennial phone phobia is a thing

Ah Millennials (born 1981-1996) the first generation to grow up with the internet. As digital natives, they embrace technology completely. Their smartphone is an invisible extension of their arm. But you won’t catch this generation on a telephone call, that’s right Millennial phone phobia is a thing. This generation would much rather speak with a Conversational AI, like Ami, before they speak with one of your customer service agents. They love to self-serve, an option which they expect your business to have. Ever see a Millennial in line for the human checkout? Yeah we thought not. This generation will continue to shape your business communications through their demand for personalisation, instant gratification and to communicate across a variety of platforms. Directly contributing towards the need to have multimedia contact centres to create seamless experiences.

‘Just call them’ might not register with this generation in the workplace. They much prefer to email or Instant Message. But, they do drive new, communication and collaborative technologies that the generations before them are slower to drive the adoption of. And they want access 24/7, anytime, anywhere.

Generation Z want more personalisation

Now for the arguably most digital generation yet. Move over Millennials, make way for Generation Z (born 1997-present). This Instagram-loving generation, are even more dependent on their smartphone than Millennials. They demand increasingly personalised customer experiences and will provide more personal data get it. And they expect this in the way they communicate with businesses as well. This will mean an effort to integrate communications solutions and a rising number of businesses using Smart Inboxes like Bizvu. A solution that will integrate with your contact centre solution and social media.  Since social media is where Generation Z spend most of their time, it’s the best platform to target communications with them.

Although they are just entering the workplace, Gen Z-ers are already influencing business. Generation Z are polar opposite to their Millennial counterparts. They like face-to-face communication best of all. Preferring this to Instant Messaging, Skype calls or dropping someone an email. Arguably restoring balance and ensuring there is actually some human-to-human interaction at work instead of solely digital communications!

Multimedia contact centres are the way forwards

It’s clear to see that each generation is very different in the way they want to communicate. However, Baby Boomers and Generation X are not as tech-adverse as you might think. The human customer service agent will never be redundant because telephone is always the preferred communication channel if the customer is very dissatisfied with the service, no matter their generation.

One of the keys to productivity for your agents is making it as easy and efficient as possible to view and input data – enter the Smart View. Why look at several different systems when one will suffice? Pull all relevant information into one place to make it simple to provide the best possible customer service. No more comments about having to go into a different system, or computer so slow.

Give people what they want, when they want it, segment your audience appropriately and everyone will be happy.

Discover how Britannic can help you strategize and deploy a communications solution, tailored to your business needs. Get in touch with us today!

Daisy Shevlin

Marketing Content Executive

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