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What a Difference a Generation Makes!

February 25, 2014

We all see it in our daily lives. People of different ages behave differently. This generational difference is forged in the times we live, and shows itself in many subtle (and not so subtle) ways.

How you say hello. How you get your news. Who you consider an authority. What you expect from others as a sign of respect. How you keep up with your friends. Who you complain to and how you seek remedy. All of these are governed by the norms and mores of our upbringing.

Of course there are exceptions, and where divisions are drawn is debatable. Nevertheless, it is useful to study general trends in demographics to understand how to provide a good customer experience to each customer. To do so, several generalized generations have been defined. It is useful to consider these in terms of your own experience as well.

Generation Birth Years Communication Style Contact Center Implications
Greatest 1900-1927 In person, postal mail Slow down and take time out to show respect and interest. Don’t rush the interaction.
Silent 1928-1945 Postal, phone Be clear, straightforward and friendly. Show respect. Do not rush, but be efficient. Earn trust.
Boomers 1946-1964 Phone, email Boomers are busy. Don’t waste their time. Show respect and courtesy. They are savvy; do not appear that you want to trick them.
Generation X 1965-1979 Email, phone, txt Make it easy and fast to interact. They are well-informed and do their research. Cost-value is important. They take no nonsense. Get to the point. Be efficient.
Millennials 1980-2000 Txt, social media, apps, gaming consoles This is the tech generation. They trust online. They don’t want invasion of their online space. They want no pitches. Give them an app if you want loyalty. They believe in group think and involve parents and friends in decisions.
? 2001- Apps, ?


Voice interactions are still a common denominator across various generations, but it is not the preferred channel for an increasing number. The contact center must be ready to provide alternatives in order to achieve good customer experience for a wide customer community. Agents should be trained to understand generational differences and be responsive to cues they receive in every interaction.

Remember though that for every rule there are exceptions. Resist the urge to categorize and stereotype. Not every customer will fit neatly into these generalizations! Use them as a guide and a starting point rather than an absolute.