Beyond the contact centre - catering for Z


Anyone who has had to cater for an extended family knows the challenge. The kids want pizza; the grown ups want steak; your cousin wants something spicy; your sister something all organic; grandma wants a burger because it's easier to chew.

Eventually you begin to tear your hair out. They all want food but you're now cooking five different meals.

This, my friends, is also the future of customer service. It's no good designing an experience for generation Y because most businesses will be catering for a wide variety of generational needs - including your kids' best friend who at 14 wants a burger because it's easier to chew.

The truth is people never fitted neatly into average little boxes - you just tried to shoehorn them into an average service scenario because it was easier for you. In the future you will have to cater for all their differences and accommodate both different customer needs and different customer journeys.

But let's look at Generation Z - those born after 1995, the oldest of which are just turning 21. If you are planning on rebuilding your customer service then these are the customers and employees you need to build for: they are the biggest generation in history and by 2025 they will be the 10-30 year olds, the young workers and customers you are seeking to attract.

One of the key characteristics of this generation, like their predecessors Generation Y, is that they like self-service. Our Generation Z analyst, Morgan ap Darran, explained to me that the driver here is not necessarily speed - something us Xers often misinterpret - but more subtle factors. "When we use the self-service screen in McDonald's it's not because it's quicker or easier to use," he says, "it's because we don't have to speak to anyone and don't need to remove our headphones."

This blew me away - that the ability to multitask (continue to listen to music while ordering) was more important to this generation than absolute speed of service.

Another key difference is that Generation Z members are not just problem solvers like their Y predecessors, but want to creatively reinvent their world - including the service paradigm. They are fiercely independent and detest the hand-holding required by Gen Y (the Apple Genius Bar is their idea of hell).

This generation does not believe there is a right way, just the way they want it at that moment, and that way may change continually because they like to constantly reinvent and refresh their experiences. They want to be in control. 

In his post 'Stop with the bundling', Morgan ap Darran argues the case as to why that favourite of the telecoms industry - the bundle - does not work for his generation. Speaking at a recent event he noted that a 20 year old doesn't know what they'll be doing next week, so expecting them to sign up to a two year contract and anticipate their needs for the next 24 months is just plain silly.

What this means, of course, is that customer service will need to change to reflect these new demands. Companies such as Domino's Pizza have already anticipated this change. They offer a wide variety of pizza types, which you can bundle together along with extras such as coke, fries and ice cream. Their site remembers what you ordered before, but you can adjust a standard order or start again. Critically, they enable you to unbundle your pizza and design your own - adding or swapping toppings to get the perfect pizza for you.

Catering for creative self-support will be a paradigm shift for the support industry, but it offers huge opportunities. Becoming co-creators in the customer experience means being able to offer the right type and flavour of support for different types of customer as required: burgers for grandma, steak for the grown ups and self-created pizza for the kids.

To find out more about the future of customer service come to our session at  Interactions 2016 or register for the upcoming white paper by emailing

Related posts: 

Why the Contact Centre is Dead

A Great Experience Starts with Staff not Systems

Customer Loyalty is Dead - Welcome to the Age of Infidelity

Forget Zee Concentrate on Me

Stop With The Bundling

Omnisperience: experts in digital experience

Add Comment

Comments (2)

Newest · Oldest · Popular

Great article Teresa. We definitely see this Gen Z as unique and different from its predecessors. They definitely do not want to commit, yet see connectivity as a "human right", way up there with air and water. Interesting point on bundles, which would move away from the current strategy (focus on bundles). and we haven't even started talking about new digital services and new support channels...

Copyright Babworth Ltd. and © 2015 Telesperience - All Rights Reserved

Babworth Ltd is registered in England and Wales - 6620167

35 Firs Avenue, London, N11 3NE