5 minute read
By Marije Gould
Posted in Customer Engagement
On April 3, 1973, Dr. Martin Cooper dialled the first call on a handheld mobile phone. The device being held by the then general manager of Motorola was affectionately nicknamed "the brick" and weighed 1.1 Kg. Fast forward to 2019 and the first generation of people to grow up entirely in a world defined by smartphones is now entering the workforce.
So for the first time in history, we have four generations in the workforce at the same time -- some who bought the first ever mobile and some who couldn't imagine a world without one.
The influence of technology is crucial. As our lives become more connected and reliant upon technology, the expectations of each of generation evolve -- not just for how we interact with organisations, but also for how we work. Our professional and personal lives are intertwined. Employees are also consumers, and the omnipresence of technology in everyone's personal lives also has an impact on the expectations of workplace technology.
As businesses look to provide the best customer and employee experiences, it has never been more important to understand the preferences across different generations. Our global research of more than 34,000 consumers across 18 countries explored views and preferences of the different generations -- and the opportunities and challenges presented for businesses trying to engage with them.
The wants and needs of modern consumers
The rise of new technologies and contact channels has created an always-on culture where convenience is king -- particularly for the younger generations. In fact, the majority (53%) of 18-35-year olds believe that convenience is more important than price when deciding where to spend their money. And a similar number (60%) expect to be able to engage with an organisation on any channel and at any time.
These younger generations are time-poor and happy to take their business to the nearest competitor if it provides a more convenient service. This is the age of disloyalty. Since 2015, loyalty figures have dropped dramatically. The percentage of consumers who had been with their service providers for more than three years has fallen from 61% in 2015 to 44% today. That figure is now just 24% for 18-24-year olds.
The emphasis on convenience and time saving customer service is reflected in the rise in demand for digital channels. However, while those under 35 do use these more than the older generations as a general rule -- this trend is not universal. For example, those aged between 18 and 34 are less likely to use online self-service tools (36% compared with the average of 46%). This is partly because they are more likely to use a provider's app instead.
And in contrast to the stereotype of younger generations being digital-only, the research found that they do value human interaction, with 29% of the younger generation stating that going in-store is their preferred communication method and 28% said speaking on the phone.
Modern customer engagement trends do not paint a simple picture for businesses. Consumers want to engage with organisations across a variety of channels at any time. These preferences change depending on the type of interaction and can vary greatly across generations.
Different generations at work
How each group embraces technology in their daily lives is also impacting their demands as employees.
Leading skills, generation and employability expert, Dr. Paul Redmond, commented in our recent report Engagement in the always-on era, "While these generations may share the same offices, rub shoulders at the same meetings, and collaborate on the same projects, each generation will maintain its own generational outlook -- its way of viewing the world."
Dr. Redmond continues to build on how it is important to understand what motivates and drives each segment of the workforce: "For younger generations, independence, entrepreneurship and working in teams are essential, non-negotiable factors. Such attitudes represent a departure from those of previous generations, which have traded time for the relative security of employment contracts. Younger generations are motivated primarily by opportunities for career development and personal growth. They are also less likely to build long-term careers within the same organisation. Generation Y and Z work 'with' organisations rather than 'for' them."
Technological demands on the workplace
How employers actually deliver this employee experience must once again come back to technology and how people prefer to engage. It has shaped each generation's outlook on the world and that's important for how organisations shape the work experience.
For this new group (digital natives), they have always been connected with access to the internet from anywhere at any time. Telephones have always been mobile, as have computers -- as laptops or tablets. And, our research revealed that people are becoming more accepting of technology in the workplace. While "digital immigrants," the older generations are being forced to adapt to new ways of working.
Despite this, 69% of all workers believe that technology will enhance, not replace their jobs.
While it may not be surprising that the younger generations are driving this desire for technology in the workplace, the variation is significant. Workers aged 35 or younger are 260% more likely to ask for technology to help them work more effectively than those older than 50. And, the younger workers are 100% more likely to want their employer to use technology such as AI.
Digital and automation tools have become a differentiator, not just for customers, but employees too. Almost two thirds (64%) say that automation technology helps reduce their workload and stress. In fact, having access to technology is a key factor in how relaxed people are.
With the most generationally diverse workforce in history, organisations have to find a way to appease every age group and get them working together under one single roof. Getting an insight into their wants and desires as a consumer sheds light on how technology is impacting their expectations of the workplace. Clearly, a hybrid workforce approach, where technology and humans are working collaboratively, is the best way forward here -- especially in the always-on era.
However, engagement on a human level is still key to bridging the generation gap and getting the most out of your entire workforce. Ultimately, the research found that when managed correctly, technology supports employees to be happier, less stressed and more effective at work.
If you would like to learn more about the generational differences of your customers and employees, visit www.verint.com/research to watch the on-demand webinar I hosted with generational expert Dr. Paul Redmond.
Did you like this story?
Subscribe for more Customer Engagement insights