Gen Z: Our Window Into the Future of Feedback

I recently shared my research on the future of CX measurement in Professor Kay Lemon’s applied marketing management class at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. (Thank you for the invite!) The students were wonderful and engaged.

What’s more, they represent Gen Z. That means they are literally the future of feedback, which made me very curious about how they think about giving feedback. So, Prof. Lemon and I asked them. And we received 48 in-depth responses!

When I looked at the responses, a few themes emerged. These themes are eye-opening for CX pros who want to prepare for the future of feedback.

Why Does Gen Z Give Feedback?

The students made it clear that they rarely complete surveys and that the many survey requests merely annoy them, which is in line with what we already see in the broader population now. If students take the time to fill out a survey, they do it for one of three reasons:

  • Connection. Some students mentioned that they give feedback if they’ve been a long-term and happy customer, as the company has earned a right to ask. Other students said they’d give feedback to firms with which they feel a sense of connection or that they want to support — for example, a cool new startup.
  • Extreme CX. Most students don’t bother to report on a “meh” experience! They only respond if they had a very bad or very good experience. Given the overabundance of survey requests, I expect that attitude to spread more broadly. That’s interesting because it changes what kind of data we get from surveys. Right now, people in the industry tend to think that surveys are better at getting a representative sample of good, neutral, and bad experiences. But imagine that we send survey requests all the time and that customers only reply for extreme experiences. That means that data from surveys will come to resemble the data we expect from “opt-in” feedback (e.g., customers click a “Feedback” button on a website), and that means lower response rates and more extreme scores.
  • Incentives. Many students want a short-term reward in return for filling out a survey (e.g., a voucher). Ironically, this might stem from the absence of the most powerful long-term reward of giving feedback: noticing that a company made changes to address the feedback. This means that getting feedback will get even more expensive. Even more importantly, companies that treat feedback like a transaction (give us feedback and we’ll pay you) emphasize the transactional nature of doing business with them. That lowers the chance of building relationships and engaging customers.

How Does Gen Z Want The Feedback Experience To Feel?

When students are willing to give feedback, they don’t want it to feel like a typical survey. Instead, they ask for:

  • Convenience. Students said they are rarely prepared to put effort into giving feedback, and they aren’t willing to spend a lot of time. This means that CX professionals must work harder to ask for feedback in those channels that people already use (e.g., in the app that customers use to interact). And CX pros must shorten surveys even more.
  • Conversation. Students mentioned that feedback should be more like a conversation and not limited to a generic list of questions. Some students were excited about new technology (such as conversational interfaces), and others said they want to talk to a person. CX professionals must collaborate internally to find out how they can embed feedback as a use case in new conversational technologies.
  • Choice. Some students said they prefer to answer survey questions via text. A few said audio or video feedback is a good idea. Behind both is the desire to easily give feedback and to decide what to share. However, some were concerned with privacy — for example, getting a text from a company might be intrusive — or they wouldn’t want to send a video of themselves to a firm. CX professionals should offer various ways to give feedback so that customers can self-select.

What are your thoughts on the future of CX?

Maxie Schmidt, principal analyst at Forrester authored this article, which can also be found here

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends and HR&DigitalTrends.