Addressing Australia’s customer service generation gap


Australia customer service generation gap: 2 generations of workers look at a laptop at a table outdoors

All age groups demand speed, transparency, and a personalized approach when it comes to resolving customer issues. But new research from ServiceNow reveals a stark gap between how Australia’s oldest and youngest populations want issues addressed.

Tech-savvy millennials want to communicate through chatbots, email, and direct messages. Baby boomers prefer to speak to an operator to resolve a problem. Other generations lie somewhere in between. Post-pandemic, many will opt for self-service but be just as happy to speak to someone—as long as their issue is addressed quickly and transparently.

The generation gap creates a conundrum for businesses trying to develop a post-COVID-19 customer service mix that works for everyone.

Do you ditch phone calls to resolve disputes, in favor of automation? This can save costs but potentially alienate older segments of your customer base. What about millennials, who want to jump online and instantly resolve a problem? And how do you connect these different systems so every team or department can address issues fast?

The answer lies in a streamlined, hybrid model where efficiency is the hero and customers have real-time visibility into when and how their issue will be resolved.

Something for everyone

Data is driving the need for a diverse approach. The research shows 71% of baby boomers favor speaking to a person to resolve a problem. That’s nearly four times greater than Gen Z (18%) and more than double millennials (31%).

The pandemic has driven an overall rise in customers resorting to self-service options when they have issues, with a quarter of survey respondents (including a large portion of Gen Z) using self-service systems. Across all channels, key priorities are having issues fixed quickly (51%) and dealing with one person (44%).

In every sector, the need to improve customer service comes at a time when expectations and demands are rising. More than a third of survey respondents (36%) said their customer service expectations have increased post-pandemic. One in four reported they’ve contacted customer service teams more, putting pressure on organizations to respond or risk losing business.

Tech-savvy millennials want to communicate through chatbots, email, and direct messages. Baby boomers prefer to speak to an operator to resolve a problem.


Finding common ground

Different generations are also divided on who’s leading—and lagging—when it comes to resolving customer complaints. Although everyone agrees the telecommunications industry and government departments rate the worst, Gen Z and millennials believe the food and beverage industry needs to step up when it comes to resolving customer issues.

Perhaps this divide directly correlates to what constitutes good customer service. For Gen Z, it’s all about getting issues fixed quickly and receiving compensation or special offers to remedy issues. Older generations believe it comes down to customer service agents knowing their details while being able to speak to someone based in country.

Despite the differences, there’s one thing the generations agree on: No one likes to wait on hold. Yet, Australians clocked 89.5 million wasted hours on hold in the past 18 months. And a third of people (31%) say wait times are getting worse. Now is the time for businesses to overhaul their customer service departments.

A roadmap for the future

In 2022, customer experience will continue to be critical to business success, requiring organizations to streamline their complaint resolution processes for a frictionless, fast, and fail-proof approach. Success will be built around customer satisfaction. The quality of complaint resolution is an integral part of positive customer experience, directly influencing where consumers spend their money and how loyal they remain to your brand.

To find a solution that satisfies all age groups, organizations need to reimagine their service model mix while providing transparency at every step of the process, so customers know exactly what’s happening and when.

Many organizations will look to a hybrid model that prioritizes digitization but provides the capacity to speak to team members—while simultaneously reducing hold times. Ensuring front, middle, and back-office teams are connected will avoid bottlenecks and enable automation to increase speed, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.

Whatever the solution, the focus should be on the delivery: an efficient, genuine experience that leaves customers feeling valued.

Find out more in our ebook: Evolving Customer Experiences and Expectations in Australia.

© 2022 ServiceNow, Inc. All rights reserved. ServiceNow, the ServiceNow logo, Now, and other ServiceNow marks are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of ServiceNow, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Other company names, product names, and logos may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.

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