7 min

Millennials vs. Gen Z: How to Address Them Through Customer Service

We explore the differences between millennials and gen Z’s expectations for customer service.

By Yext

Oct 14, 2021

7 min

Now that millennials are in their late 20s and early 30s, they make up a vast amount of many companies' audiences. Their purchasing power will only increase as they become more integrated into the workforce — and gen Zers, also known as Zoomers, are finally becoming adults with purchasing power of their own. Companies will need to adapt if they want to stay in business as these generations take the digital world by storm.

To better understand these demographics, let's explore how millennials and gen Zers are similar — and how they differ —in their customer service expectations.

Millennials vs. Gen Z: How to Address Them Through Customer Service

It's no coincidence that "we" (Gen Xers) have been seeing major headlines about millennials destroying this or that beloved industry for the past few years. The fact of the matter is that millennials, and Zoomers, are looking for a change and want different things from companies than Gen X or previous generations. A big part of what they want is a better, more adaptive customer experience.

If companies want to cater to these enormous populations of potential customers, then your business must start taking their preferences and consumer behavior into account. Brand loyalty isn't a given the way it used to be, and future generations will have even more options for products and services so your company will need to differentiate itself through awesome customer service.


Despite some debate about the term, the generally accepted dates for the millennial generation start with 1981 and end with 1996. That means that the oldest millennials turn 40 this year, and the youngest turn 26. As of two years ago, millennials surpassed Baby Boomers by the sheer number of buyers.

Mobile As A Tool

The joke about millennials not ever wanting to talk on their mobile devices actually stems from the truth. Millennials are more inclined to send interactions, tweets, or direct messages on Facebook and Instagram. Therefore your customer care professionals should be active on the internet or mobile apps and ready to respond fast since many of them anticipate a response in under ten minutes.

Millennials Use Chatbots

They're also much better with chatbots and other forms of tech communication outside of making a phone call. Chatbots provide answers to frequently asked questions or direct a customer's question to the appropriate service representative when necessary. Millennials would rather question a quick and easy robot than wait forever for someone to say they don't know the answer and transfer them to yet another department.

Although it might seem obvious to people of these younger generations, companies should always clarify that the chatbot is a bot and not a real person since older generations often can't tell the difference or identify when they're speaking with a real person or not. This should be part of the menu that allows customers with complex issues to get in touch with a customer service representative.

Millennials Prefer Messaging

In addition to chatbots, live chat is now on the rise. Millennials would rather do as much as they can online, not over smartphones or in person, and that counts for asking questions too. Offering text or social media platform messaging with customer service agents is a great way to cater to younger generations who want answers quickly while they're multitasking.


Generation Z, or Zoomers, are digital natives who were born between 1997 and 2012. At present, the oldest ones turn 25 while the youngest is just getting to their teens. So remember, Gen Z customers are teenagers that don't have the purchasing power of millennials. Also, only a small percentage of them are currently in the workforce, but that percentage will obviously grow in the coming years.

Zoomers Are More Tolerant

One significant difference between Zoomers and millennials is that Zoomers are more tolerant and willing to give second chances. For millennials, if your company crosses a line or gives them a bad experience, that's the end of their business forever. Zoomers don't seem as inclined to hold a grudge, although they will still churn after repeated negative experiences. Millennials also seem more likely to leave bad reviews or spread the word of their negative experiences on social media, potentially damaging your company's reputation on a grander scale.

So, what counts as a negative customer service experience for Zoomers? Most of them find that a customer service agent who is too stiff, robotic, or otherwise unfriendly counts as a negative experience. It should also be noted that despite Zoomers' apparent tolerance for one or two negative customer service experiences now, this may be influenced by their lack of purchasing power. As they get older and earn more, they may become more discerning about their vendors since they'll have the money to switch to competitors.

Prefer Socially Conscious Brands

In addition to noting what your company creates, you should have a page or two explaining your mission and how your company contributes to society as a whole. Millennials and Gen Z respondents to surveys say they are much more socially conscious than Generation X and want to support companies that prove their authenticity, show diversity, and give back to the community somehow.

Both Use Social Media

However, be careful how you phrase your messaging. Both millennials and Zoomers are uncannily perceptive in spotting false corporate messaging designed to get their money. If you manage to win the trust of Zoomers, though, they're perfectly happy to advocate for your brand online and explain to all of their followers why they should check out your company too.

And considering that almost every millennial and Zoomer has a TikTok, Twitter, or other social media account with at least a few followers, that's a lot of free publicity, either positive or negative. The reach of many younger people, especially Zoomers, is much wider than most people assume so you want to ensure that they're promoting your brand whenever possible.

If you push them away, though, don't count on either generation sticking around for long since they're both known for their general lack of brand loyalty, especially when compared to previous generations. That means your company needs to stay on its toes to stay relevant in the changing marketplace.


One aspect that both generations have in common is the desire for more tools and options for self-service. Instead of needing engagement with your company's help desk whenever they have a question about your products or services, people in generations Y and Z would rather look up instructions, FAQs, or video tutorials online.

If you add a thorough search bar on your website, visitors will never have to waste time browsing through dozens of pages to locate the one thing they're searching for. Adding parameters to searches, in addition to having a search box, allows customers to refine their results to items that are applicable to their search.

This is less expensive for your business as well as handier for your consumers. Having many blog articles that cover certain subjects and answer frequently asked questions is an excellent approach to building a knowledge base that customers and workers can utilize to learn more about your company's products and services.

Younger people also want to do plenty of research into your company and read reviews of your products before committing their money. This is likely influenced by the comparative lack of spending money for both millennials and Zoomers, but they want to do research from third-party people about your company since they are naturally untrusting of businesses.

A Pandemic's Effect

Zendesk's survey on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic found that among millennials and Zoomers, expectations changed due to the shortages and delays experienced during COVID-19. Most of them now care more about the quality of a business's customer service than in previous years.

While some of them have more patience dealing with shipping issues or other problems because of the pandemic, many of them now have higher expectations for customer service. They might overlook the problem, even if your agent can't offer a concrete solution if they're willing to connect with the customer and offer other reparations to show that your company prioritizes and values their business.

Another way in which the pandemic has affected people is by encouraging more usage of community forums. Ideally, these forums would be run or hosted by your company so that existing customers can provide advice or insights to new customers. Still, even if the forum is outside of your purview, you should have agents keep an eye on it to answer more complex questions that others cannot.

In Summary

Learning more about how your primary audience wants to interact with your business is the key to meeting and exceeding customer service expectations. It's essential to grow and adapt as your audience demographic changes to make everything about working with you more convenient. This will improve overall brand loyalty and lead to retaining more customers in the long run.

Contact us to learn more about customer expectations and how to improve your company's customer service.


US population by generation 2019 | Statista

Millennials vs. Gen Z: How their customer service expectations compare | Zendesk

How Are Customer Service Expectations Different from Generation to Generation? | LiveChat

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