All generations agree on this one point …

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
boomer shopper
A negative customer experience is worse than a poor experience with a product, according to a survey by Telus International.

There are many differences in preferences across the generations at each stage of the customer journey, but on one point they all agree.

From baby boomers to Gen Z, all generations agree a negative customer experience is worse than a poor experience with a product, according to a survey by Telus International. The survey, which polled 2,000 U.S. consumers about their expectations before, during and after a purchase, revealed what each generation finds most important to have a successful customer experience.

The study found that good customer service following a purchase (such as short wait times and easy exchange/return processes), is most likely to lead to future purchases, according to 93% of baby boomers, 91% of millennials, 89% of Gen X and 81% of Gen Z.

The majority (65%) of survey respondents across all age groups expect at least part of their customer journey to be automated versus having to interact with a human. Gen Z (46%), Gen X (53%) and baby-boomer (60%) respondents indicated that real-time help powered by AI has the most positive impact on how they view a brand and is most likely to grow their loyalty.

Millennials are also serious about automation as 72% are likely to make repeat purchases. And 71% are likely to recommend a brand if it uses AI to improve their customer experience. 

In other findings, social media leads the way for brand awareness and product research. In the past year, 79% of Gen Z respondents have made at least one purchase stemming from a social media ad, with 18% making at least six. Even though baby boomers were least likely to have made a purchase from a social media ad in the past year, nearly half (48%) still did.

The top way that all generations, with the exception of millennials, show their loyalty to a brand is by making additional purchases. Millennials prefer to show loyalty by recommending the brand or product to friends and family. Also, 75% of all consumers surveyed are likely to leave a review, post on social media, or create some other form of UGC if they have a positive customer experience.

Beyond providing a great customer experience, brands can generate further loyalty by supporting community causes, offering environmentally friendly products, and having strong environmental, social and governance policies. Having these types of programs in place are most likely to influence millennials’ brand loyalty (65%); conversely, baby boomers (49%) are the least likely to be influenced by these factors.

“Social media has become a critical space for brands to positively influence buying decisions across all generations,” said Maria Pardee, chief commercial officer at Telus, a digital customer experience company that designs, builds and delivers next-generation solutions. “These survey results demonstrate the value that brands can derive from dedicating resources to moderating user-generated content on their sites such as product reviews, questions, complaints and comments, to make a great first impression.”

The survey revealed varying comfort levels amongst the generations regarding brands retaining some of their customers’ data as long as it is disclosed what data is being held and how it will be used. Baby boomers are the wariest with only 48% saying they are comfortable with this practice vs. 65% of millennials. Gen Z’s and Gen X’s sentiments fell between.

“Gathering and analyzing customer data is critical nowadays for brands to be able to provide customized and personalized experiences, as well as to build chatbots and other automated solutions that can better predict what a customer wants and more accurately answer their questions,” added Pardee.

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