As young consumers redefine how they communicate with each other, they’re increasingly expecting the same level of accessibility and relatability from brands…
Millennials and Gen Z are notorious for being addicted to their phones—but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of isolating them, messaging apps and social media help young people feel more connected to their friends, family, and loved ones. This growing network of ways to keep in touch has not only led young consumers to redefine the way they communicate with each other, it has also caused them to redefine the way they communicate with brands. With the always-on mentality of smartphones and social media, 13-35-year-olds increasingly expect the level of accessibility and relatability from brands that they have with their friends—and that includes the myriad of communication platforms they have at their disposal. A study from GetFeedback found that 78% of Millennials wish brands offered customer service via text, and 25% expect a response within 10 minutes when they contact a company over social media. In other words, the days of dialing a 1-800 customer service number are long gone, and the brands that don’t keep up risk losing the hard-to-win trust of young consumers or—perhaps worse—becoming the next viral example of poor customer service.
While this has indeed led to a culture of calling out businesses online for poor service and interactions, it has also opened up possibilities for brands to reach young consumers where they’re at—and become more trustworthy and authentic in the process. According to Adweek, a whopping 93% of Millennials check out blogs and reviews before making purchases, and 77% trust the reviews they read on company websites. And with the advent of social customer service, these interactions are increasingly public, meaning each one has the potential to affect sales.
That said, it’s important to know exactly how 13-35-year-olds want to communicate with brands before launching customer service lines across every platform. To get a better sense of the ways Millennials and Gen Z want to talk to brands, we pulled data from our recent Quarterly Report:
For the majority of 13-35-year-olds, email is the preferred method of communication with brands—but that information shouldn’t be followed blindly. When we asked young consumers the same question in 2015, 80% said that email was the preferred platform. And though nearly 70% of Millennials are still open to the inbox, only half of Gen Z—which is already estimated to have a collective spending power of $44 billion—wants to communicate on the platform. Thirty percent of Gen Z even tell Ypulse they think email is a dying form of communication compared to 15% of Millennials. However, Gen Z is more open than their older peers to talking to brands on the phone and in person. While this may seem counterintuitive, keep in mind that just 83% of Gen Z own a smartphone, meaning that many still rely on the communication forms of old—or those of their parents.
Social media is the second most-liked way to communicate with brands among young consumers, but not all platforms are created equal. Though 13-35-year-olds don’t hesitate to call out an unsatisfactory brand experience on Twitter, when it comes to customer service, young consumers are more partial to Facebook, Instagram, and—in the case of Gen Z—Snapchat. But generational differences are important to keep in mind here. While the majority of Millennials are still on Facebook, the platform has failed to attract Gen Z: just 48% of 13-17-year-olds have Facebook accounts compared to 85% of Millennials. For the younger gen, Instagram and Snapchat are the most popular social media platforms (besides YouTube) and are also their preferred platforms for brand communication.
Though some young consumers are still open to chatting on the phone with customer service reps, the big takeaway from this data is clear: ditch the dial tone and get online. Much like their preferred ways of communicating with each other, the vast majority of 13-35-year-olds want 24-hour access to brands, and they want it in a text format. When they do pick up the phone (despite their anxieties) the majority of young consumers are interested in talking to someone their age—and who talks like them.
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