The future of service and how to amaze Millennials and Generation Z

How can companies make sure to amaze the tech-savvy and interconnected Millennials and Generation Z’s? We spoke to the ISS 2020 Vision - Future of Service Management contributor, customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling author; Shep Hyken.

Not that long ago the World Wide Web was still at its infancy, a personal computer belonged to the lucky few and a mobile phone was the new revolutionary technology. Then the year of 2007 came along and brought the iPhone with it. A year and a device that forever changed the way we communicate, consume and behave.

While the iPhone revolutionized the behavior of some of us – other generations; Millennials and Generations Z’s were born with these devices in their hand. These generations have had cell phones, Wi-Fi and instant access as long as they can remember. Unpredictable conditions, technological change, sharing their lives online and viewing the world as a highly connected ecosystem is all they know.

Interacting with these new generations of customers sets completely new requirements to us as service providers. But which?  Read our interview with the customer service guru Shep Hyken below.

Shep, how do you see Millennials and Generation Z’s are redefining the customer service experience and what do they demand from service providers compared to previous generations?

It is simple. Previous generations were used to doing service in one or two ways. In person or on the phone. Then at some point email was added as an extra channel.

Millennials and Generation Z’s however are expecting companies to be available at any channel of their choice at any time. These generations are looking for instant information and instant service connection.

They are not going to be the ones who sit on hold on the telephone. They would probably not even make a phone call in the first place. So, companies need to offer service options that are instantaneous. In that sense, easy and intuitive self service solutions can make a good fit.

Talking about self-service, doesn’t that hold a danger of losing the human connection with the customers and the feeling of belonging?

There’s no doubt that the self-service solutions do take away from the human to human connection. Considering that Millennials and Generation Z’s want to feel a part of the brand; companies need to make a bigger conscious effort to create an emotional connection.

In that respect, however, I think that brands have a great opportunity to transfer a little bit of the human connection to the interactive web experience.

Here’s the thing. Nowadays companies have great chances to get to know who their customers are and recognize their customers based on their online behavior, buying patterns, ways of interaction with the company (e.g. if they prefer email, chat).

If you go to and start looking at an item, then hit two or three different items - you log out and come back on – there’s the little words; Welcome back Shep – the last time you were here here’s what you looked at (..)

So, there’s no reason why every company shouldn’t be thinking about how to create a connected experience. Especially knowing that this is exactly what the new generation of customers including Millennials and Generation Z’s are looking for.

So, do you mean we should start to see technology as the enabler of personalization and something that can bring the human connection to live?

I can’t see why we shouldn’t. Amazon is just a great proof of that.

Personalization should comprise a big tactic in any organization at any level. People do not like to feel they are a number, or some type of account. They want to be treated as the human beings they are and they want organizations to be proactive in giving them a personalized service experience.

And it is that customer expectation and that technology that continuously is raising the bar for the future of service.

Before we let you go, do you have any best practice tips you would like to give companies that are looking to deliver great service experiences for these new generations of customers?

I will summarize this in 5 best practice tips:

1. Make sure to treat every person like a person. Not just a number or an account.

2. All people and consumer groups are different. Invest time in getting to know your customers and use these insights to personalize the service experience at every step on the way.

3. Stop thinking about the future. If you want your customers to come back, then the impression you leave NOW is your best chance.

4. Service is omni-channel. Focus on managing and improving interactions across multiple channels and devices. Consistency is a key here.

5. Be a great communicator. Communication can make or break your service experience.

Want to learn more about the future of service? Download our white book on the topic below.