Meeting GenZ and Millennial CX Expectations

Consumer needs are constantly evolving, and generational differences play a significant role in shaping these preferences. Younger generations, specifically Gen Z and millennials, have grown up immersed in a digital world that prioritizes instant gratification and self-reliance, unlike their predecessors, baby boomers and Gen X, who often prefer personal interactions and more traditional support channels.

As Gen Z and millennials increasingly make up a larger portion of the customer base, their self-service or no-service attitude is transforming the way companies approach customer support. Recent research from Gartner found that nearly 40 percent of Gen Z and millennial customers are likely to abandon customer service interactions if they cannot resolve their issues through self-service channels. Companies that neglect to offer efficient and effective self-service options risk frustrating customers, increasing churn, and facing criticism.

Having grown up with technology as an integral part of their lives, Gen Z and millennials are accustomed to instant access to information and quick problem-solving. They prioritize autonomy and efficiency, expecting to find answers and resolve issues independently without relying on human intervention.

Catering to the preferences of these cohorts presents both challenges and opportunities for organizations. Investing in AI-powered bots allows companies to meet the demand for round-the-clock support and deliver the quick, efficient problem-solving these customers desire. This not only improves customer satisfaction, but it also alleviates some of the workload on human agents so they can focus on resolving more complex issues.

The downside, however, is that bots often encounter challenges that result in subpar or negative experiences; research shows that half of customers feel frustrated after interacting with bots.

One critical area where bots struggle is interpreting customer intent. Gen Z and millennials have a low tolerance for sluggish, inefficient, or impersonal support experiences. If bots fail to comprehend their queries or offer irrelevant information, these customers will quickly abandon the interaction and seek alternative options, potentially going to competitors who provide better support. Gartner research reveals that if these consumers cannot resolve their issues through self-service, more than half won't purchase from that company again or would decrease their usage of the product or service. It also found that 44 percent of unsatisfied customers would share negative feedback about the company or its offerings.

Accurately establishing customer intent is one of the most crucial aspects of ensuring bot success, which requires robust AI training and ongoing testing. Bots rely heavily on natural language understanding to interpret customer inputs, but the quality of their performance is directly tied to the knowledge that powers them. Given the complex and varied nature of human communication, bots must be trained on vast amounts of data to effectively recognize a wide range of customer intents. As language and communication styles continue to evolve, particularly among younger generations, bots must be able to learn and adapt continuously to remain effective.

Companies must focus on training their bots to understand customer intent and regularly test the technology to identify and resolve issues before they negatively impact the customer experience. Implementing an automated, continuous bot testing strategy is crucial to optimizing their performance and ensuring high-quality interactions. Effective bot testing assesses how well bots comprehend customer intent and how quickly they adapt to changes in customer inputs.

Scalability is also a key consideration in testing, as bots must be able to handle high numbers of interactions and perform consistently across multiple channels, including mobile apps, websites, interactive voice response (IVR), and social media messaging platforms.

As technology progresses and consumer behaviors evolve, organizations must remain flexible and committed to providing exceptional self-service options to maintain a competitive edge in an increasingly digital marketplace. According to Gartner, one of the top priorities for customer service and support leaders in 2024 is evolving their self-service strategies to meet the needs of today's younger customer base.

Organizations that focus on the development and upkeep of their AI-powered bots through ongoing training and testing will be well-positioned to deliver the self-service experiences that these customers have come to expect.

Alok Kulkarni is CEO, chairman, and co-founder of Cyara.