Stephanie Clarke is the Director of Content Marketing at Quadient, responsible for developing and executing Quadient’s global content strategy. Stephanie has more than 14 years of experience in the software, technology and manufacturing industries. She has a proven track record for designing and implementing winning and profitable B2B marketing strategies for global technology brands. Stephanie holds a B.A. from Wilfred Laurier University. She is very active on LinkedIn and Twitter – please connect with her by clicking the icons above.
Unless your business is focused on a specific age group, targeting one generation to the exclusion of others is not always a good strategy.
At the same time, each generation has a different comfort level with technology which means a one-size-fits-all approach to Customer Experience (CX) would leave many of them dissatisfied.
So what’s a company to do? We asked CX experts from around the world to offer their perspective, insights and advice on the challenge of delivering a CX experience that connects with multiple generations at the same time. Here’s what we learned.
Q. Why is being able to appeal to multiple generations with CX so important?
A: “An organization’s ability to adapt to the changing environment AND the needs and expectations of customers is the difference between survival or obliteration,” states Ian Golding, Global Customer Experience Specialist -- Custom Experience Consultancy Ltd.
Q: Is a hybrid approach to CX the wise choice for organizations that want to reach a multi-generational audience?
A: “To survive, you need to give customers a choice to interact in ways that suit them,” explains Ian Golding, Global Customer Experience Specialist -- Custom Experience Consultancy Ltd. “CX is all about connections,” adds Ken Hughes, CX Strategist & Consumer Behaviouralist, “Those that manage to blend digital and human experiences seamlessly will win.”
Q: You can put a label on each generation and define them in a generic way, but within each generation there can be differences, too. How should organizations respond to this factor when defining their CX strategy?
A: “Unless we are prepared to offer a truly bespoke, one-to-one experience, then we have to group our customers. However, like segmenting by social class or postcodes, not every person in each generation will have the same needs, hopes, concerns and expectations,” says Jerry Angrave, Managing Director -- Empathyce. “85% of them may be aligned, regardless of segment, so I’d focus on understanding those common elements first.”
James Dodkins, Customer Experience Rockstar – Rockstar CX, feels the same way. “I think to segment people by arbitrary circumstances like the year range in which they happened to be born is a very Industrial Age way of looking at 21st century business. The most important thing about a person isn’t the ‘Year of Manufacture’. We need to dig deeper to find the similarities across the generations and embracing them instead of trying to find the differences."
“Don’t design an experience based on generations,” Annette Franz, Founder & CEO – CX Journey Inc. says, “design experiences that will solve problems and help customers do the jobs they need to do, regardless of age.”
Q: The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z all have distinct differences from one another, but they’re all people, so shouldn’t there be some common threads between them all?
A: “All people, regardless of age, have basic human needs and wants,” explains Anthony Cirillo, President -- Fast Forward Consulting LLC, “so, it reasons that you meet the common needs of the generations by reviewing your product and service offerings and making sure the user experience matches those basic human needs. In other words, foster intergenerational behaviour and commonalities, and you indeed can hit five birds with one stone.”
Q. Is the same true of emotional needs? Can they be cross-generational as well?
A: “Consumers need a combination of transactional perfection and emotional intelligence. For all generations, transactions need to be fast, easy and fun. At the same time, consumers are looking for companies that help them to fulfill their dreams and purposes,” explains Steven Van Belleghem, Speaker, Author, Entrepreneur – Nexxworks. “So, the emotional intelligence makes sure that companies become a partner in the life of consumers. These consumer benefits are valued across generations.”
Kari Korkiakoski, Founder, Author & Consultant – Futurelab Finland, agrees. “Companies typically forget that they need to touch their customers emotionally. That creates loyalty.”
Jeanne Bliss, President of CustomerBliss, feels the same way. “Emotions are such an indicator of the differences and similarities of people, and knowing them will give you a lens to understand and build for them.”
Q: Throughout the history of marketing, a constant fundamental has been that to create marketing that connects with your audience you have to intimately know who your audience is. Do you think this fundamental is relevant when an organization’s goal is to market to multiple generations?
A: “The best way to know how to adapt your customer experience strategy is to understand who your customers are and what their needs, expectations, pain points and problems to solve are,” explains Annette Franz, Founder & CEO – CX Journey Inc.
To discover this insight, Adrian Swinscoe, best-selling author, Forbes contributor, independent advisor and aspirant at CX Punk, encourages companies to go beyond just reviewing data. “Go and talk to your customers, talk to different generations in different areas that have had different experiences, hang out with them, really get to know them. Only then will you be equipped with the insight and understanding you need to build a multi-generational experience that works.”
Learn more about how your organization can create a CX strategy that will engage and delight multiple generations of customers. Download the ebook “Managing the CX Demands of 5 Generations”.