Generation Z – Why they Think and Behave Differently

Preparing for Generation Z – Kay Phelps of Genesys explains why they think and behave differently

generation.y.image.june.2016Would you choose to be smarter or better looking? A study of over 11,000 Generation Z kids (born in the mid 1990’s to early 2000’s) reveals that 69% would rather be smarter.

They’re more prudent – 56% say they are savers, not spenders. And unlike the stereotype of self-absorbed Millennials, Generation Z comes to the workplace well prepared, less entitled, and more equipped to succeed — and is eager to make a difference in the world.

As this new and diverse generation emerges, the more we know and understand them, the better organizations can foster their loyalty with a customer experience tailored to their needs.

In “Get Ready for Generation Z,” writer and researcher Anne Kingston refers to Generation Z as a new species – “screenagers, the first tribe of digital natives” who have been wired from the time they were toddlers. For this group, the Internet is a second language.

Generation Z is independent and eager to be cut loose — they grew up in a healthier economy than earlier generations.Nevertheless they are realistic rather than merely optimistic, having grown up in the wake of a big recession, amongst school violence, shootings, terrorism, and climate change. This has made them more pragmatic and more resilient.

According to studies by, The New York Times, Forbes and New York advertising agency Sparks & Honey, characteristics of this emerging generation include:

– Entrepreneurial – 73% say they want to start their own business

– Tolerant of racial, sexual, and generational diversity

– Community oriented (26% already volunteer) and seek jobs with social impact

– Collaborative team players, experts in collaboration tools

– Adaptive reflexes; quickly switch between tasks

– Value honesty and say it is the most important quality in a good leader

– Accustomed to change – global, social, technological

– Early adopters, brand influencers

– Prefer in-person interactions

Their burgeoning influence is significant to how companies need to shift their communications. Generation Z numbers over 2 billion worldwide and comprises over 25% of the North America population. They are already influencing purchasing decisions on everything from computers to entertainment, TV and cell phone purchases, family vacations, even home furnishings and family cars. And they’re just getting started. Their impact will skyrocket as they move into adulthood and careers.

This means we need to understand Generation Z now (or yesterday) and adapt how we deliver their customer experience accordingly.

– Given Gen Z cut their baby teeth on technology and are accustomed to change, they expect companies to make it easy for them to communicate in any way they choose.

– They quickly switch between tasks, and want to effortlessly transition between voice, chat, and video in one seamless interaction. They expect the same from businesses they interact with, so enabling an omnichannel customer experience is essential.

– With honesty being a core value, we need to ensure consistent responses across all touch points with strong knowledge management capabilities.

– Many prefer in-person interactions, and when that isn’t available they will expect video(think about their experience with FaceTime) for face-to-face communication.

– They are early adopters and brand influencers, so companies must keep tabs on their social media

Fundamentally, we need to focus on HOW to reach Generation Z. As they are digital natives, mobile and web are their primary channels of communication. That means we need to proactively reach out to them on their mobile devices with information they want and need. And when they’re seeking information, they will go first to your web site, and will expect ease in navigating it.

If they don’t find what they need, we need to make it easy for them to reach us directly from the web, giving them choices of chat, click-to-call, or video chat.

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