Engaging Multi-Generation Consumers: A Brief Guide to Client-Facing Communication

Workplace Generation Gap
by: Shannon Givens , September 17, 2019

Modern consumers are more diverse than ever before, but marketing to three or four different generations can be difficult for companies of all shapes and sizes. Creating highly engaging content that is on brand and appealing to the widest possible audience is crucial for maximizing profitability and growth. That said, accommodating a variety of communication preferences has proven to be a significant barrier for organizations looking to streamline their client-facing operations. 

Considering most businesses have multi-generation employees, marketing and sales professionals should pay close attention to how differences in age impact the success of their B2B strategies. This is not only essential for converting high-intent leads and improving customer satisfaction, it’s also a cornerstone in long-term relationship building. According to research from Salesforce, close to 74% of surveyed consumers are more likely to switch brands if they believe the purchasing process is too difficult. Of course, maximizing customer retention is no easy task, but getting to know the nuances of each consumer demographic is a great place to start.

Assessing generational preferences

First, it’s important to note that communication preferences tend to vary on an individual basis. And while there’s often a lot of overlap between clients from the same generation, sales and marketing professionals shouldn’t assume that a customer’s age makes them more or less adept with certain technologies. The best approach to improving intergenerational selling strategies is to assess the specific modes of communication being used and look for opportunities to resolve conflicts and inefficiencies. With that in mind, let’s quickly review some insightful generation-based trends identified by Forbes:

  • Baby boomers: Generally speaking, this consumer population came of age during a period of economic prosperity and global change. As a result, many baby boomers have an optimistic outlook and are willing to accept the recommendations of sales representatives. Most clients in this age range will likely prefer face-to-face communication and phone conversations over email and other digital channels, but many are open to learning about new technologies.
  • Generation X: Unlike baby boomers, Gen X grew up alongside advances in computing technologies and the internet. Members of this generation were early adopters of email and direct messaging, which had a notable impact on their communication styles – Gen Xers are typically known for being blunt and direct. According to research from NTT Data Services, email remains the most prevalent medium of communication for this age demographic, though they also regularly interact via mobile phones and text messaging.
  • Millennials: As the first true digital natives, millennials tend to be tech-savvy and capable of managing several simultaneous conversations across multiple online and offline channels. While the emergence of social media played a significant role in establishing their general preferences, most millennials are comfortable in one-on-one interactions and group settings. However, their heavy reliance on electronic communication platforms has made face-to-face interactions more difficult, according to Forbes. Millennials typically prefer speaking through direct messaging, texts or other digital communication platforms.
  • Generation Z: Although they are just breaking into the labor force, Gen Z workers are already having an impact on how businesses future-proof their sales and customer service frameworks. Most in this age bracket were born into a digital world, providing them with near instantaneous access to information and heightened technological mobility. As Forbes pointed out, Gen Z is “more trusting in digital information, more isolated from their physical environments and yet more globally aware.” They are also open to the use of social media within the workplace and often prefer tech-centered communication channels, such as texting, instant messaging and video conferencing.

Bridging the gap

The first step to overcoming intergenerational gaps in the buying cycle is to understand the underlying values, perceptions and behaviors that may lead to miscommunication. For example, a customer from the baby boomer generation might interpret a millennial representative’s preference for text messaging as a sign of disinterest. Overcoming these barriers is key for capitalizing on both inbound calls and online leads, especially when several different communication channels are in play. Ultimately, it’s important for marketing and sales professionals to learn how to connect with a multi-generation consumer base and respect individual preferences during each step on the path to purchase.  

In many ways, accessibility is the core principle in B2C and B2B selling scenarios. For example, research from Toister Performance Solutions found that most customers expect businesses to reply to their emails within one hour. Failing to meet this expectation can lead to missed sales opportunities, poor customer retention and may even damage a company’s reputation. And although it’s often difficult to respond to every email in a timely fashion, there are plenty of automated tools that can help streamline the lead management process.

To help improve intergenerational conversions, many companies have started using call tracking and analytics software to identify trends in inbound leads. This not only allows their sales team to identify the needs of inbound callers in real-time, it also enables them to target specific age demographics with greater accuracy. On the backend, call recording solutions can keep marketing and sales professionals tuned into key multi-generation communication skills. Generally speaking, the more hands-on training employees receive, the better equipped they’ll be to navigate complex customer relationships.

Another useful strategy is to implement unified communication tools that can serve as a centralized hub of interaction for all employees. Modern VoIP solutions allow employees to check their inboxes, respond to direct messages, listen to voicemails and more, all on one convenient and user-friendly platform.

Learn more about how digital transformation can improve your client-facing communications at Custom Toll Free.

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