As Millennials and Generation Z become dominant consumer groups – with Generation Z purchasing already reaching an estimated $100 billion according to research conducted by Barkley – their comfort level and familiarity with multiple digital channels including social messaging and chatbots means organisations, no matter their size, must provide digital-first omnichannel experiences to meet consumer expectations and effectively compete in the experience economy.
So finds global research from US CX company Nice inContact in its third annual 2019 NICE inContact Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark, which details how understanding younger generations’ use of and expectations around next-generation solutions like artificial intelligence (AI) and digital channels including private social messaging are fundamental to building exceptional, best-in-class customer experiences.
According to the study, almost 60% of Gen Z and Millennials have used private social messaging for customer service. In contrast, 38% of Gen X, 19% of Baby Boomers and 16% of Silent Generation have done so. The majority of Generation Z and Millennials also want companies to allow them to interact with customer service using private social messaging apps (72% and 69%, respectively).
The study also reveals that consumers are using AI more and feeling more positive about chatbots over time. According to Nice inContact, half of all consumers have used AI for any purpose (50%), compared to 2018 (45%). This can be attributed to a significant increase in the use of an automated assistant/chatbot online (34%, up from 25% in 2018). Generation Z and Millennials are more likely to agree that chatbots make it easier and quicker for their issues to get resolved, and are also the most likely of all generations to have used all forms of AI for any purpose, as well as for customer service.
Half of consumers who start with AI are transferred to a live agent, and age is a significant factor when it comes to AI and the importance of the human touch. While chatbot usage and performance are improving – and preferences and attitudes are changing – most consumers want to be informed if they are using a chatbot (92%) and 91% of all consumers prefer a live agent. However, this preference follows a downward trend generationally: 98% of the Silent Generation, 96% of Baby Boomers, 91% of Generation X, 86% of Millennials and 83% of Generation Z say they prefer a live agent.
The report suggests that seamless digital-first omnichannel experiences are vital to positive customer experiences. Most consumers (93%) want seamless omnichannel experiences, and yet they are increasingly giving companies a poor rating on seamlessly switching between channels – 73% give companies a poor rating, up from 67% in 2018. This is especially important for meeting and exceeding the expectations of Millennials and Generation Z, who are the most likely to have experienced omnichannel customer service (16% and 21%, respectively).
“Understanding the nuances of what consumers expect, and how they actually engage with brands via a myriad of digital channels, and integrating these in-demand channels seamlessly to deliver digital-first omnichannel experiences, is key to sustainable growth,” says Paul Jarman, NICE inContact CEO. “The NICE inContact CX Benchmark looks beyond education around demographic customer service trends and gets to the root of what makes new channel options attractive. Millennials and Generation Z are bellwethers of what consumers expect and are increasingly likely to recommend a company on social media based on personal experiences – the influence they wield is tremendous.”