In any demographic, customers expect ‘immediacy’ and human touch

It’s no wonder that a generation used to always-on, instant communication should prefer to access customer service just as quickly and conveniently. But Generation Y’s desire for easy interactions with businesses has been greatly aided by an innovation that wasn’t available until not too long ago: private messaging via social media channels.

For members of Generation Y, who range in age from 17 to 35 years old, online media are the channels of choice for communicating with businesses, according to the latest Internet Trends report from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers . Their number-one choice? A tie between Internet/Web chat and social media.

By comparison, older generations — basically anyone older than 35 — prefer their interactions with businesses to be over the phone ahead of any other means. Even Gen X’ers (those born between 1961 and 1980) choose the phone narrowly over email or text messages (29 percent versus 28 percent), while 90 percent of those older than 72 prefer the phone first.

But don’t forget: even the youngest, social media-preferring customer demographic tends to use such channels over what device? Their mobile phones, of course.

“In 2016, social and mobile are virtually inseparable, with over 80% of daily active Twitter users being mobile, and roughly the same for Facebook,” says the social customer engagement service provider Conversocial. “Bank of America’s annual Trends in Consumer Mobility Report found that 91% of U.S. consumers say their mobile phone is just as important as their car and significantly more important than television (76%) and coffee (60%).”

Above everything, though, customers of any age prefer “resolution, immediacy and efficiency,” according to Conversocial’s 2016-2017 “Definitive Guide to Social, Mobile Customer Service.”

“New channels are emerging, and the growing popularity of private messaging is providing brands with new opportunities to securely and personally serve their customers,” the guide states. Even with automation, bots and machine intelligence, however, access to human support will remain a critical part of good customer service.

“This new normal [automation] is empowering brands to deal with high-volume, repetitive inquiries in a smart, inexpensive way and arming the customer with instant answers and a user experience that removes friction from everyday service interactions,” the guide concludes. “But the human touch in customer service is crucial for even the most automated of systems. Regardless of how service channels mature, your customers need access to empathy and humanity, and will turn up the volume on their social voice if not.”

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