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STAMFORD, Conn., April 20, 2021

Gartner Says Millennials and Gen Z Customers Prefer Third-Party Customer Service Channels

Customer Service and Support Leaders Should Take Note of How This Trend Contributes to Customer Loyalty

Younger generations are more likely to start their self-serve journeys outside company-owned channels, according to Gartner, Inc. In fact, 52% of millennials and 44% of Gen Z customers have as much confidence in noncompany guidance as in customer service guidance.

A Gartner survey of more than 4,500 customers conducted in December 2020 revealed that most millennials (62%) and Gen Z customers (75%) report they would use noncompany guidance (such as a subreddit, Google search or YouTube video) to self-resolve their issues either all or most of the time, even when they have the option of contacting customer service. This is a significant difference from the 19% of baby boomers and 43% of Gen X customers who report they would do the same.

“This tendency among younger generations to rely on noncompany channels should not be viewed as a problem for customer service and support leaders. In fact, service leaders should embrace this trend as it helps to increase customer loyalty,” said Deborah Alvord, senior director analyst in the Gartner Customer Service and Support Practice. “Our research shows that customers who use noncompany channels report high levels of satisfaction, some even higher than customers who began their journeys on other channels.”

Gartner research shows that net promoter scores (NPS) and value enhancement scores (VES) are higher among customers who begin their issue resolution journeys outside the company’s service and support channels.

“This trend will not disappear anytime soon,” said Ms. Alvord. “Service and support leaders need to expand the scope of their voice of the customer programs to better reflect customer behavior that includes the more frequent use of noncompany channels by younger customers.”

To do so, Gartner recommends that service and support leaders take the following actions:

  • Audit the entire customer service journey by researching the most common service issues solved in popular search engines.
  • Ensure company-owned webpages dominate the first page of search engine results by investing in search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Dedicate a portion of employees to reviewing third-party content to enable customer service representatives to confidently dispel misleading or incorrect information in their service interactions with customers.
  • Enable service and support employees to create issue resolution content on the third-party sites customers most frequently visit so they can have credible information to resolve issues themselves.

Gartner Customer Service and Support Leaders clients can learn more in the report “State of the Customer: How Millennials and Gen Z Increasingly Self-Serve Through Noncompany Digital Channels.”

About Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders

The customer service and support function is vital to maintaining customer loyalty and influencing brand perceptions. Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders provides indispensable insights, advice and tools needed to achieve service and support leaders’ mission-critical priorities, specifically improving the customer experience while managing costs. Gartner’s research, advice and best practices equip customer service and support leaders to design an optimal service channel strategy; measure and reduce customer effort; and hire, develop and retain high-potential frontline talent. 

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About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500. We equip business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities today and build the successful organizations of tomorrow.

Our unmatched combination of expert-led, practitioner-sourced and data-driven research steers clients toward the right decisions on the issues that matter most. We are a trusted advisor and an objective resource for more than 14,000 enterprises in more than 100 countries — across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size.

To learn more about how we help decision makers fuel the future of business, visit gartner.com.