4 Generations, 1 Common Goal: Learn How to Effectively Communicate With Everyone
The workforce is more diverse than ever, and at this very moment, we have four different generations interacting with each other and with customers every single day.
From Boomers to Gen Zers, communication styles have evolved and each generation has its own unique set of values and beliefs.
It can be challenging to find ways to effectively connect with each generation, so let’s explore the different communication preferences of each generation.
By understanding their preferences, you can improve the way you communicate and build stronger relationships with your team and customers.
Communication Styles: Each Generation’s Perspective
Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
Baby boomers are the children of World War II parents, and what can you expect from such an upbringing?
A generation that values loyalty, respect, and formality. They recall a time when writing your resume on a typewriter and bringing it to businesses in person was the norm. A time when most were judged on the formality of their writing and grammar. Surprisingly, this generation loves their emojis 🤣😄🤨😩.
It’s no surprise that this generation prefers face-to-face communication above all else. Baby boomers have adapted to most of today’s technology, they are probably the oldest generation that adopted social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram, but they tend to stay away from platforms like Snapchat and Tiktok.
And even though in-person communication is their preferred method of communication, this generation has grown a new appreciation for digital communication thanks to the pandemic.
Gen X (1965-1980)
Gen Xers are often forgotten but they were the early adopters of most of the technology we use today.
They were the first generation to grow up with personal computers in their homes and the ones to have widespread access to the internet and mobile phones.
Given that they have lived in both a world where cell phones did not exist and then grew up with technology everywhere, CNBC reports that they are actually more likely than millennials to stay on their phone at the dinner table. This looks like the Boomer characteristic of hard work and the Millennial need to stay connected combined into one.
Gen Xers are considered to be the middle child as they are sandwiched between the two largest generations in the United States, the Boomers, and Millennials. It’s no surprise that they prefer a mix of in-person and digital communication.
Gen Y – Millennials (1981-1996)
Even though Gen Xers were the first ones to have widespread access to the internet and mobile phones, millennials got to experience it all in one device from the get-go.
They grew up with the smartphone, and more importantly, they were the youngest generation to experience the iPhone and the wave of change it created in the digital world.
Making them the pioneers of online shopping and social media. They are the generation that would choose a text-only phone over a voice-only phone if given the choice. Research shows that Millennials prefer a text message over a phone call as it is more convenient and less disruptive.
Gen Z (1997-2012)
Gen Zers are often called Zoomers because as they say, what is old becomes new again. Gen Zers prefer to communicate face-to-face while they also consider their digital presence as an actual extension of their identity.
While this sounds like a perfect balance of both worlds, Gen Zers are very particular about the how and the who.
Gen Zers approach to communication boils down to the level of personalization, they don’t like feeling like a number. They dislike email marketing and ads on vehicles, where it’s just being addressed to the general population.
This explains why they like in-person communication in the workplace and with people close to them, but when it comes to businesses, they like to have direct access to the brand and that is usually accomplished through social media or text messaging.
Understanding and Overcoming Barriers
Four generations are walking in and out of your stores.
Four generations are working together under the same roof.
How can you strategize and overcome barriers?
Today, businesses have the ability and access to choose the way they communicate with their customers.
Whether it’s by text, phone, email, social media, or web chat, it’s important to understand the person on the other side and to strategize depending on the customer’s need.
Especially in a moment in time where Boomers and Gen Xers are in leadership positions, Millennials are entering more senior roles and Gen Zers are starting their first jobs. The younger generation will be more proactive about customer communication if you give them the tools they are most comfortable with.
When it comes to a business communicating with its customers, text messaging wins when it comes to effectiveness and convenience for both your customers and your staff.
In addition, the power of text messaging can also be used to set up different forms of communication for success.
Need to have an in-person conversation? Text them and arrange the best time to meet.
Need to call them? Give them a heads up and make sure you don’t catch them off-guard, shoot them a text and see what works best for them.
Need to provide multiple quotes for a custom bike build with a million configurations? This time email might be a better option.
But why should businesses choose text messaging as a preliminary step to different communication styles?
It’s Not What You Say, but How You Say It
Service-heavy retailers are in constant communication with their customers.
From appointment scheduling, to reminder notifications, they need to keep the customer in the loop every step of the way.
One of the biggest challenges in this constant back-and-forth is keeping a tone that aligns with the quality of service you want your customers to know you for.
Using text messaging in your business not only makes this easier for your employees but also allows you to keep the same level of customer service in every text message.
You’d be surprised to hear that 88% of your customers want to receive text messages about their appointments instead of a phone call that interrupts their day (and your technician’s, as well).
Text messages are the most effective way to reach your customers, without a doubt.
As soon as a text message is sent, 95% are read and responded to within 3 minutes. This is unlike any other form of communication as the majority of people don’t even check their voicemails and emails have an open rate of about 21%.
It’s more likely than not that most of your business hours overlap with most Americans’ working schedules, so generally speaking there is a convenience factor to consider.
A customer might not see an email until much later (if they even end up opening it), and a phone call can be disruptive to their day.
The most convenient solution? Text messaging.
It’s already very clear with 90% of customers stating that they prefer receiving information from businesses via text messaging over phone calls.
Does Ikeono think that text messaging is the end-all-be-all solution for your customer’s needs?
No, but it enables you to break barriers and improve your overall communication with your customers.
While text messaging is the most convenient way of reaching your customers, maybe some conversations are better had over the phone.
How can text messaging help? Text them and ask them for a good time to chat over the phone instead of catching them off-guard in the middle of their day.
As we’ve seen throughout this article, each generation has been through different experiences that alter their preferred communication style.
But what is so unique about text messaging?
Text messaging is a type of communication that combines the old and the new, and enables businesses to provide better experiences for all other communication styles.
Think about it, text messaging is your modern-day letter produced by a typewriter and sent by mail. After all, the first text message was sent on December 3rd, 1992.
Most businesses will also lean on the formal side in their language and tone, borrowing a Boomer business etiquette and sending it through a means that is the favorite among every other generation after them.
You might ask yourself, are you making customer service less personal?
In fact, you are making it more personal.
You are using a mode of communication most often used among friends and family, but you are taking advantage of the immediacy and convenience it offers.
Customer service is still of the utmost importance, but it has changed and evolved.
Finding the Right Mix
Thanks to technology we have an abundance of new communication channels.
So, which channel should you focus on?
Finding the right mix for your business and customer base is the right answer. The four generations that walk into your store prefer a mix of IRL (in real life) and digital styles of communication.
Most businesses today rely on either email or phone calls as their main forms of communication with customers. Email is not going anywhere, but it has become a catch-all for most outreach efforts, and phone calls are not always the most convenient way to reach a customer.
Most workflows and processes businesses have today can be replaced with text messaging and yield even better results.
Many businesses have yet to adopt text messaging as a communication channel with their customers and this is a missed opportunity given its convenience and efficiency.