What Gen Z Expects From Technology and the Customer Experience

Generation Z is roughly defined as the generation born after 1995. They don’t remember 9/11, they’ve never seen a VHS tape or a floppy disk (unless their grandparents have some lying around), and they’ve never heard a dial-up modem sound.

None of this is to say that Generation Z has an easier life than the generations that came before them, but that many people in their 30s and 40s working in technology are likely to have trouble wrapping their heads around what Generation Z expects from the technological world.

Generation Z and Technology

Generation Z (sometimes referred to as “zoomers”) are the first true digital natives. While Millennials grew up with today’s modern technology, adopting it in high school and college, Gen Z has never lived in a world without it.

The original iPhone was released when they were in elementary school, so they’ve never known a world without smartphones. They never had to go to school without Google, Wikipedia, or email. And, unsurprisingly, they’re more connected than any generation before them:

  • 95 percent of them own a smartphone
  • 83 percent own a laptop
  • 78 percent have a gaming console
  • 57 percent own a desktop
  • Nearly 70 percent report being uncomfortable if they spend more than eight hours without internet access

Part of their immersion in technology is that they don’t see technology and the internet as a tool for information and productivity like most of their older counterparts — they see the internet as their primary means of communication, connection, and entertainment. Taking away their phone for the weekend is the equivalent of locking them in the basement from a social point of view.

Consumer Digital Expectations

Generation Z spends every day immersed in technology, so it’s not surprising that they want their interactions with companies to keep pace. For most members of Gen Z, the digital experience of interacting with a brand is far more important than any in-person interaction. That trend is only likely to become more prevalent given the way that the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted many businesses to a digital-first model.

Finally, remember that Gen Z is impatient. Most people become annoyed when a website takes too long to load or if an online store doesn’t have an item in stock, but members of Gen Z won’t hesitate to look elsewhere if there’s a hitch in the buying or research process — they’d rather buy from someone else than pick up the phone and ask a question they can’t find the answer to online.

Gen Z expects to do research, find pricing, make purchases, take delivery, and onboard the products they use without ever consulting a live human being. They want this process to happen seamlessly, on any device and at any time of day. To capture the attention (and growing spending power) of Generation Z, your organization will need to make the digital experience your top priority.

Pivoting to Digital

Generation Z is still young, but they’ll be the primary customer base of many companies before you know it. Just as the pandemic was a wake-up call for many companies overly reliant on in-person shopping, the rise of Generation Z and their expectations for digital interactions should push you toward a more technology-focused business model. If your business is going to keep up, you’ll need to evolve and adapt your methodology to make the customer experience as digital-friendly as possible.

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