As sales and marketing experts, we know that determining the best communication channels to reach customers is vital for successful business operations. Sharing information effectively no longer involves talking to people over the phone or in person. Technology and social media are transforming the way we communicate at incredible speed, forcing us to rethink our business processes to meet the shifting needs of our customers.
Understanding the elements that influence customers is the first step in this journey. While factors such as geographic location and income play a role, so does age. Each generation is influenced by personal, cultural, and social factors differently, which translates to changes in behavior and communication preferences. Learning these is essential when trying to determine how to share information with customers.
In this article, we give you an overview of the generations active in today’s world. We dive deep into the communication preferences of each one of them to help you develop channels that would reach a diverse customer base.
The Importance of Understanding Communication Preferences In Sales
If you don’t know how to reach customers, look at all the means of connection. In addition to mail and the phone, today we also have email, text messages, live chats, video calls, and more. This interconnectivity gives every business an opportunity for outreach via various methods of communication.
As great as it would be to rely on one form of communication, you may quickly discover that not everyone responds to it in the same manner. That’s because customers span several generations today, and each one of them has its preferences. While younger generations grew accustomed to all the digital innovations and social media, older ones still prefer conventional communication methods such as phone calls or emails.
Providing the best information at the right time using the most effective communication channels is already a challenge that most businesses face. Knowing your customers’ (and prospects’) communication preferences can be the difference between earning their attention and driving them away. Their birth year can provide valuable insight into determining the way to create positive customer experiences.
Communication Preferences by Generation
Considering everything we outlined above, you may find yourself doubting which channel to choose to talk with all generations. Satisfying the needs of diverse customers is by no means easy, but it helps when you know what they seek in the first place. Our outline of generations and their preferences may help you determine the best communication channels to reach customers for your business.
Traditionalists (1925 – 1945)
Traditionalists actually consist of two generations – the G.I. (Greatest) Generation and the Silent Generation. People born during these years lived through a substantial amount of change and uncertainty. They saw the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and World War II. Considering they also witnessed all the changes in modern history, Traditionalists appreciate being recognized for their experience and prefer a formal way of communication.
For the vast majority of their lives, Traditionalists used handwritten (and typewritten) letters and hardwired (rotary) phones as the means of communication. This doesn’t mean emails and other channels are unknown to Traditionalists but only indicates they may prefer meeting face to face or speaking with a person rather than an online bot.
Because of a generation that prefers respectful and formal communication, businesses should consider holding on to the traditional channels and personalized actions (such as handwritten cards and letters) to showcase commitment and appreciation.
Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964)
Aptly named for the surge in births following World War II, the Baby Boomer Generation is currently the second largest in the US. Unlike the generations before them, they grew up in a time of economic stability and prosperity. This made the Baby Boomers conscious about their purchasing choices, and even today, they tend to prioritize cost, convenience, and the variety of products available.
Enjoying the television that was no longer such a luxury, Baby Boomers grew up relying on the TV for information. Much like the previous generations, therefore, they still prefer in-person or phone communications.
Generally speaking, this generation doesn’t care that much for personalized content and experiences. Although most Baby Boomers use email and are well versed in technological innovations, many choose to stop there and neglect the rising popularity of social media and virtual agents. You could have a harder time engaging Baby Boomers through SMS or social media. According to Facebook data, Boomers begin their retail customer experiences in stores, but they are increasingly purchasing online (just over 30%) and on mobile devices (just under 20 percent ). Apps are less likely to be used by them.
Generation X (1965 – 1980)
Those born in Generation X saw several technological improvements during their lifetime. From cassette and VHS tapes over cordless phones and personal computers to the most recent developments, this was the first generation to really incorporate technology into their daily lives. They were the early adopters of email, which has since then become one of their main forms of communication.
The Generation X preference for email communication remains true to this day. That isn’t to say that they don’t use other methods, though. They use SMS and social media and SMS on a regular basis. However, their social media use is typically limited to staying in touch with friends and family members. Some may connect with businesses on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, but generally, they prefer their business interactions to occur via email.
Millennials (1981 – 1997)
Millennials are the largest living adult generation in the US. They were teenagers or younger when social media came about, and most of them relied on email as the main form of communication while they were in school. They’ve seen the mass adoption of cell phones, the mainstream use of text messaging, and the introduction of live chat, video calls, and more.
As a whole, adults in the Millennial generation have been quick to adopt new technologies. While they still use email, they’ve taken quickly to texting and chat apps to communicate with businesses. Many also interact with companies on social media.
A lot of what Millennials do today occurs online, including making purchases. They will use the phone for voice calls, but it’s not their preferred method of communication. Additionally, unlike Baby Boomers, they prefer more personalized buying experiences and interactions with businesses.
Generation Z (1998 – 2012)
Finally, there’s Generation Z, which is only starting to come into adulthood. The oldest members of this generation are 23. They’re often referred to as “digital natives,” as they’ve grown up (and continue to grow up) with access to smartphones, social media, and a wide range of other modern channels of communication.
Their access to the latest technologies means that generally speaking, the best communication channels to reach customers in this generation involve texting, chat apps, and social media. Members of Generation Z don’t typically go for voice calls. Email isn’t their favorite either, but they will use it when necessary.
For the most part, Gen Z is the most trusting of digital communications. They also go one step further than Millennials when it comes to business interactions. Where Millennials prefer personalized interactions, Gen Zers expect them. Short, visually stimulating communications that catch their attention and digest quickly are usually the most effective.
Communicate Effectively Across the Generations
Delivering outstanding customer experience plays a substantial role in converting prospects and retaining existing customers. Part of that process involves selecting the best communication channels to reach customers and providing them with the information they want or need.
One of the ways to understand your customers’ preferences is to look at their age. It’s easier to manage your business operations comprehending that you can typically expect Baby Boomers and Gen Xers to prefer emails and Millennials and Gen Zers to favor texting.
Still, there’s an exception to every rule, and you may want to ask your customers what they want in the first place. Understanding their specific communication preferences is essential for building strong and lasting relationships. In the end, you may find yourself designing an omnichannel experience to address all your customers’ needs.
As a pioneer in sales conversation AI, Aktify can help. Having the right tools for the job can make all the difference in designing seamless communication operations. Our technology supports sales teams in connecting with more interested prospects and turning them into customers. We nurture more leads, revive stalled ones, and increase pre-qualified calls to your sales team.
Are you ready to get started? Schedule your demo with Aktify today.