Generational Dynamics in the Experience Economy: What to Know for Success

Four distinct generations comprise most of today’s consumers and workers, each with a unique set of values, expectations and preferences. Consumers have access to nearly every brand across the globe, and the changing world of work offers many employees flexibility they didn’t have before. As a result, it’s harder than ever to win loyalty from customers or employees — and easier to lose it.

In this environment, what increasingly sets an organization apart is the overall experience they provide.

Remarkable experiences delight customers and empower employees, creating loyal customers and employees and increasing customer retention. Deciding how to provide each generation with the experience they expect isn’t always easy. Fortunately, some rich data can help light the way and eliminate much of the guesswork.

The forthcoming Genesys report, “Generational Dynamics and the Experience Economy,” offers valuable insights into consumer and employee attitudes globally. It outlines customer service trends and gives business leaders the direction they can use to drive experiences and strengthen customer retention strategies.

Surveying 13,000 adults worldwide, our study delves into the nuanced sentiments individuals have about how they evaluate whether to purchase from a brand, their expectations for customer service and what they want from employers.

While you’ll have to wait for the full report in June to see everything we’ve found, we wanted to share select findings from our survey.

Generations Weigh Criteria for Purchases

When it comes to making a purchase, every generation ranks price and quality as the two highest criteria. Beyond that, generational preferences begin to emerge.

Younger generations place high value on the opinions of others, with 68% of Gen Z and 76% of millennials saying they look at customer reviews and ratings. Even 62% of Gen X share this sentiment, but only 39% of boomers say the same. Our survey shows a similar trend across recommendations from friends and family, third-party reviews and social media.

Another critical factor is reputation, with consumers of all ages ranking both brand and customer service reputations highly. This suggests that brands need to think not just about how to appeal to consumers when they’re making a purchase, but also how to ensure that their ongoing interactions with customers are empathetic, personalized and connected.

Younger Customers Want “Channel-less” Experiences

Customer experience has a big impact on brand loyalty. As we found in our latest State of Customer Experience survey, almost one-third (31%) of consumers said they’ve stopped buying from a brand in the past year due to a bad service experience. To meet customers the evolving expectations – especially younger customers, companies should offer more digital, asynchronous and self-service options when it comes to customer service.

Gen Z and millennials prefer digital customer service channels, including ones they use in their daily lives like messaging apps and social media, much more than Gen X and boomers do. For example, Gen Z and millennials prefer to receive customer service in a mobile app by 25 percentage points over the older cohort. Similarly, a preference for service via chatbots ranked 23 percentage points higher for younger customers.

Those same preferences are driving a marked shift toward more connected and integrated service experiences. This transformation is most pronounced among younger consumers, who expect — and will demand in the future — that customer service be as seamless and integrated as other digital experiences they consume.

Millennials (71%) and Gen Z (57%) expect customer service interactions to offer seamless transitions between different channels. Those generations also want the ability to solve their own service concerns: Gen Z and millennials were 15 percentage points more likely to prefer convenient self-service options than Gen X and boomers.

We also found that every generation expects personalization across channels. And they’re willing to provide customer data to facilitate that personalization, with younger generations being 39% more likely to say they’re willing to share data in exchange for personalized service.

They also have higher expectations for personalization in digital channels, with 59% of Gen Z and millennial consumers saying they expect it in messaging and mobile apps, compared to only 42% of Gen X and boomer consumers.

The findings of our survey underscore a critical shift: Businesses must adapt to these evolving expectations by implementing more robust digital strategies. Customer service teams must prioritize personalization, convenience and “channel-less” continuity to meet the needs of an increasingly digital-first customer base and, ultimately, to boost customer satisfaction.

Personalized Experiences and Employee Expectations

Our survey found that employees across generations expect a supportive work environment, flexibility and work-life balance. They also want opportunities for professional growth. While expectations today are generally aligned across generations, Gen Z and millennial employees have much higher expectations for how much flexibility and career growth employers should offer in the future.

Looking three to five years out, Gen Z and millennial workers expect their employers to offer more location and schedule flexibility and provide more support for work-life balance. Greater flexibility in where and when jobs are performed is expected by 63% of Gen Z employees and 72% of millennial employees (as opposed to 54% of Gen X and 42% of boomers).

When it comes to employer support for work-life balance, our data shows a 14-percentage-point difference between what Gen Z and millennials expect as compared to Gen X and boomers.

Employees See the Promise of  AI

Organizations’ accelerating adoption of AI within the workplace reveals a cautiously optimistic outlook among employees. Our research finds that younger employees, especially, view AI as something that can enhance their work environment: 28% of millennials and 21% of both Gen Z and Gen X employees think AI will make jobs better and more efficient.

This perspective is rooted in the belief that AI will automate mundane tasks and provide real-time assistance, often with access to rich data in knowledge bases. This allows employees to focus on more complex and rewarding aspects of their jobs and on improving the customer experience.

Working alongside AI will increase job satisfaction and elevate the overall quality of work by enabling people to focus on areas requiring genuine human insight and creativity. The sentiment expressed in the survey reflects a recognition of AI’s potential as a supportive tool rather than a replacement, fostering a workplace where AI tech and human expertise coexist.

Designing the Future of Experiences

Overall, the insights from our study underscore the importance of a holistic approach to addressing generational dynamics for organizations’ CX and EX strategies worldwide. Whether as a consumer or an employee, people expect personalized experiences that make them feel supported and valued.

Delivering on those experience expectations is critical, and with the right technology and an empathetic approach, organizations can set themselves apart. We hope you find our insights helpful in your own journey to delivering exceptional experiences for customers and employees alike.

Want to receive a copy of the “Generational Dynamics and the Experience Economy” global report? Sign up here.

Delivering Empathy and Personalization

Customers and employees across generations want empathy, personalized experiences and shared values. AI and experience technology can provide more contextually relevant experiences that keep employees and customers engaged, making them both feel heard and understood.

A vital element of empathetic, personalized experiences is understanding generational differences and how those dynamics translate into unique customer and employee expectations. CX solutions such as AI-powered sentiment analysis can help organizations learn how best to meet those expectations and make customer and employee experiences feel unique.

Building “Channel-less” Journeys

Customers and employees interact across multiple channels every day. Those touchpoints are often disconnected, leading to frustration. Organizations should use a robust CX platform to bridge channels, including email, phone calls, chat and social media, to create contextually relevant, channel-less journeys. AI-powered solutions can orchestrate these experiences based on customer preferences and employees’ skills, lowering frustration, increasing satisfaction and improving both employee and customer retention rates.