Trends & Insights

Millennials and Gen Z and Their Customer Experience Expectations

By Sebastian Bott - December 07, 2017

Millennials and Generation Z are dependent on smartphones like no other generation before. Getting their first smartphone marks the beginning of a new life event, which occurs when the average Gen Z member turns 12 years old. What expectations place young users on their device experience – and what does this mean for smartphone and consumer electronics companies?

According to Google and despite ongoing innovations in the wearables segment, smartphones are still the most popular device: 78 percent of all 13 to 17 year olds use one, closely followed by laptops with 68 percent. How much time do young users spend online? This is a tough question especially for Gen Z, since they are always connected. Gen Z spends most of its time busy with online videos, messaging, and social networking and of course, games.

Both Millennials and Gen Z do their shopping primarily on their mobile phone while Millennials prefer mainstream channels: Amazon, Gmail and Facebook are at the top of the list. In our Smartphone and IoT Consumer Trends study, we found out that half of them look at their phone at least 50+ times a day and 85 percent want to have it near them at all times. If the smartphone stops working, panic strikes! Quick help is needed – but in what form would Millennials and Gen Z like this to happen?

1. Preferably not via a Call Center or in a Shop

In a study, Millennials said that they would prefer to get their teeth cleaned rather than call customer service. The young generation of users is downright service-shy and prefers to avoid conventional personal contact – both via the call center and in the retail shop. In other words, they don’t want to speak audibly. For this reason, smartphone providers should invest in customer service via chat or self-service tools.

2. Problems are Best Solved Independently

If there are real problems and a smartphone needs to be repaired, the same applies here: Device and service companies should offer self-service. Millennials are reluctant to go into a shop if there are problems with a product. In a report by The Real Self-Service Economy, 40 percent of some 3,000 users said they would prefer self-service to personal contact at all times. The success of DIY portals such as iFixit is anything but a coincidence – it rather serves as a reliable indicator that we’re about to enter the self-service economy.

3. Social, Fast and Uncomplicated

Although young generations prefer to have no personal conversations or calls, anyone who believes Millennials and Gen Z tolerate impersonal behavior is profoundly mistaken. In fact, the complete opposite is true: 64 percent find customer service via social media great and prefer a personal, informal conversational tone on these channels. Companies who rely on complicated procedures and formalities should not even contemplate getting involved in social media. They run the risk to completely bore their customers and should therefore concentrate on an uncomplicated and easy approach. The main priority for Millennials and Gen Z is to solve a problem as fast as possible, and this also applies to interactions on social media.

4. Fast Solutions, Preferably Immediately

A propos fast and complicated – answers within 24 hours? Pretty slow! Many want feedback within minutes. The new generation expects lots in other ways as well. They don’t want to talk about their customer history for a long time. Companies themselves should have this on record and available at all times. This could be a significant change in the future: Better to quickly offer an effective DIY repair kit than to have a customer wait two weeks for a repair.

5. On all Channels and Mobile Only

Millennials and Gen Z use all sorts of devices but all of them are mobile – mobile first is turning into mobile-only. Companies should be present where their customers are. But be careful! Answers are expected where the last contact took place. No one wants a callback request as the solution to a comment on LinkedIn. And answering a question via Facebook Messenger that was posted on Instagram is also considered a broken service experience. Companies should build a team that specializes in the various channels. There is one small exception: If the customer does not calm down, providers can kindly ask to continue the conversation in a private message.

6. Declining Brand Loyalty and Extremely Vocal

What if a Millennial or Gen Z user didn’t enjoy such a great customer service experience because the repaired phone did not meet expectations when unpacking it at home? In all likelihood, companies will never hear from this customer again. 68 percent of young customers change brands after a bad experience. Even worse than losing a customer: Young users feel almost obliged to warn their peers about a brand after a bad experience. 27 percent say that they have already left negative reviews – and this tendency is on the rise!


Gen Z and Millennials have a completely new perspective on customer service that will change the way brands communicate, engage and respond to requests. In order to reach the young generation of users, companies have to adapt their style, tone and forms of communication. Why is it worth it? Quite simply, because Millennials and Gen Z are a huge target audience! The number of Millennials alone exceeds the number of Baby Boomers. It is therefore well advised to take their concerns to heart.


Trends & Insights

About the Author

Sebastian Bott

Sebastian Bott is Vice President Group Sales & Business Development at B2X.