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Startup & Scale-Up

The Rise of The Digital Native

Digital Natives Are Challenging Brands to Reinvent The Customer Experience

You’ve likely heard that you need to prioritize “digital natives” in your marketing and customer experience strategies. But who are they? And why are their needs so important to your success? 

Spoiler alert: they’re the biggest consumer group in the US, and the quality of their customer experience can make or break your business. 

In what follows, we’ll take a look at:

  • who digital natives are and what they expect
  • the challenges companies face in delivering a digital experience
  • the important role of digitally native support agents
  • how to build an effective digital support tech stack
  • what you can learn from your digital workforce

Who are digital natives?

Digital natives are widely recognized as consisting of the Millennial and Gen Z demographics. Born between 1980 and today, digital natives are those who use digital technologies and the Internet from a young age.

The term was first used by Marc Prensky in a 2001 article describing how students at the time were fundamentally different because “computer games, email, the Internet, cell phones and instant messaging are integral parts of their lives.”

Right now, Millennials represent the largest group of consumers in the US, at 76 million. Gen Z, at 78 million, is set to surpass that number in the coming years. As digital natives, both groups represent a huge amount of buying power, as well as a significant fraction of the workforce. By leveraging their digital-first mindset, you can keep customers satisfied and ensure your business stays on top of leading edge CX approaches.

Current customer expectations and trends

If you know digital natives, or if you are one, you know they usually recoil at the thought of having to pick up the phone. While it makes for great meme material, it’s also supported by customer preference data that proactive organizations are using to guide their customer experience strategies.

So what are digital natives looking for in their customer experience? Here are four key areas your strategy should be taking into account:

  1. Self-service tools: They expect online, mobile-friendly options for independently resolving issues and finding information.
  2. Social media-connected: They use social media to learn about products and seek out support. 85% of Gen Z consumers gain product awareness through social media.
  3. Text-based channels: They prefer accessing support through text, instant messaging and non-voice services. 63% of Millennials would rather have their basic customer service questions answered through chat.
  4. Customized journey: They seek out high-quality, personalized and frictionless experiences tailored to their unique needs and preferences.

Challenges in delivering digital support

Maybe you already know you need to be thinking about the customer expectations of digital natives, but you’re feeling daunted by the challenges of shifting to a digital-first experience. For many companies, that change represents a drastic departure from the way they’ve traditionally done things.

While live chat is the leading contact method for online customers, many organizations aren’t equipped with the right technology or resources to deliver. In fact, 16% of consumer-initiated live chats receive no response. And 43% of businesses admit that the experience they offer is not good enough to meet customer expectations.

Failing to rise to the challenge can have a substantial negative impact on business. For 53% of customers, not being able to find a quick answer to their question is a dealbreaker that leads them to walk away from a potential purchase.


Digital natives as support agents

Employing a diverse workforce of digital natives as customer service agents is one way companies are ensuring consumers get support that’s catered to their expectations and mindset. Who better to know what digital natives want than tech-fluent, experienced digital natives themselves? 

It’s a competitive advantage that also comes with its own set of expectations from the employee side. Digitally minded employees – who represent 90% of the workforce – need digitally powered, fully integrated tools to do their jobs well. And helping them be effective in their roles doesn’t just keep your workforce happy – it keeps customers smiling too. 

As more and more companies understand that high employee satisfaction has a direct positive impact on customer satisfaction, they are developing and empowering their customer support teams in these key ways:

  • Building an inclusive, digitally-driven culture with deep employee engagement
  • Using tools and platforms designed to deliver a frictionless & augmented employee experience that enables high performance
  • Implementing an end-to-end digital lifecycle that helps agents deliver a seamless customer experience, collect feedback and continuously improve
  • Providing interactive and evolving training solutions that leverages simulators, gamification, responsive real-time coaching to drive digital employee engagement, quickly accelerating performance, and career development

How to build a tech stack for the digital native agent

Of course, supporting digitally native agents and customers in the ways we’ve discussed means having the right technology in place to make it all possible. The best way to guarantee this is to work with a trusted partner who can provide the following solutions and functionality to flawlessly launch digital customer support delivery:

  • Digital escalation tools to engage SMEs to help resolve customer issues real-time and capture information for continuous improvement
  • Simulated training environments that gamify learning, delivered virtually or through video
  • End-to-end interaction and performance analytics to support employee development
  • AI-powered conversational guidance to help agents deliver leveled-up support
  • Floor monitoring that helps supervisors evaluate and improve agent performance
  • Customer survey and feedback gathering tools for continuous monitoring and improvement
  • Complete data security to keep enterprise and customer information safe

Integrating lessons from the digital workforce

When your digital workforce is equipped with the right technology, trained to provide an end-to-end digital experience, and empowered to deliver exceptional customer service, you’re bound to reap the rewards of improved customer satisfaction. And, inevitably, you’ll also launch your organization down a path of continuous improvement. As your digital workforce acquires and contributes new ideas, processes, experiences and knowledge, you can feed those insights back into your operations and translate them into optimal outcomes for your digital customers.

With integrated technology and empowered, digitally fluent support agents, companies can achieve seamless customer engagement, exceptional employee performance and superior outcomes. All of that adds up to a futureproof CX approach that meets the needs of the consumer group with the most purchasing power and the greatest potential to impact business, for better or worse.

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