Generation C and the New Rules of Engagement

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Business owners and customer service strategists often fall back on classification systems to better understand consumer behavior. It makes sense to try to find some commonality within a given market segment, but customers interact with each other so differently these days that the old rules of engagement simply don’t apply.

Altimeter Group’s Brian Solis says characteristics we’ve typically used to define generations X, Y, and Z are too narrow to be applied to today’s customers. Instead, he heads back to the beginning of the alphabet to designate the current flock of consumers “Generation C” — as in “connected.”

“To Gen C, experience is everything. What they feel about your products and services now and over time is shared through these connected networks. They know that other Gen C’ers rely on their shared experiences to find resolution. If you’re not proactively designing the experience they have or defining the journey that they will embark on, you cannot influence the experience that’s shared about your brand.”

Solis suggests you find out how users connect and communicate with each other, then be prepared to meet them everywhere they are. That means stepping out from behind the relative safety of your website and joining conversations on social media, forums, etc.

The goal isn’t to outshout competitors or stick your sales message in the face of every potential customer on the planet. The real purpose is actually twofold:

1. To remind users that you’re an authoritative voice in your industry. When you’re quick to respond to user questions or concerns across multiple channels, you’ll gain a reputation as company that gets involved and stays close it its customers. It’s a great way to build rapport and gain trust, especially if you’re in a very crowded industry.

2. To make sure information shared about your product is correct. The last thing you want is for customers to perceive your product as unreliable or difficult to troubleshoot. Unfortunately, it’s all to easy for well-meaning users to share misinformation while trying to help each other noodle around a problem. Get out there and make sure users are giving each other the right answers and don’t hesitate to gently redirect when they’re not.

“We’re living at a time when attention is the new currency. Those who insert themselves into as many channels as possible look set to capture the most value,” says Mashable’s Pete Cashmore. The expectations of Generation C really up the ante when it comes to delighting users with exceptional customer service. But be glad user are hyper-connected with each other these days. It makes conversations easier to find and a great customer experience easier to provide.

Image: Eugen Anghel

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