Today, the median age in the U.S. is the highest it’s ever been, reaching almost 39 years old according to the Census Bureau. So it makes sense that Baby Boomers and Generation X make up as much as 86.8% of all small business owners in 2023- that’s 9-in-10 businesses.
This generational gap we’re experiencing means more multigenerational workforces. Boomers and Gen X are expected to understand and cater to their diverse set of customers- many being Gen Z.
So what does this mean for businesses and how can older business owners best serve their younger customer base when they have completely different methods of communication styles?
Why it’s important to meet younger customers where they are
There seems to be a slight disconnect when communicating across generations. Boomers tend to prefer email while Gen Z prefers text messages. To meet customers where they are, business owners need to offer multiple channels of communication so that customers can choose what style, platform, or channel works best for them. By offering various channels of communication, business owners can ensure that they are reaching all target audiences so they don’t lose out on business.
Catering to younger generations has never been more important. Today, younger generations have real purchasing power and they are spending at greater rates than older customers. This has given them more sway with businesses that are adjusting their products to their unique tastes, desires for personalization, and demand for a variety of choices. With this knowledge in mind, small business owners need to modernize their systems and embrace communications solutions that appeal to the younger generations.
A seismic shift in emerging tech
Multigenerational workforces create a need for new technology and reimagined business models. For older business owners to meet younger generational customers where they are, they need to adapt and integrate new tools that provide an innovative and seamless customer experience that younger generations have become accustomed to.
With AI-powered tools, new social media platforms like Threads, and increasing streams of communications, there’s been a seismic shift in emerging tech. This creates an undeniable generational gap between small business owners and the customers they’re serving.
Today, business owners are expected to use emerging tech and communicate with their customers across numerous, disparate and unconnected channels and inboxes, which often leads to confusion, delays, potential attrition, and missed business opportunities. Centralized communication platforms can help with the stress of managing multiple channels while increasing the customer experience.
Effective CX is king
Research shows that nearly one-quarter (17%) of consumers will switch to a competitor after only one bad experience. There is a crucial need for easy-to-use communication platforms to facilitate streamlined conversations with customers and keep everything in one place to improve the customer experience. Because small business owners from older generations tend to be less tech-savvy as compared to their Gen Z customers, tools such as Thryv Command Center, Weave, and Nextiva help to bridge that gap. These tools provide all-in-one communications hubs for small business owners to keep all conversations in one place and focus on what they do best- serving their customers and growing their businesses.
Competing with enterprises
Through centralized communication platforms, small business owners have the software to help them compete at an enterprise level. Historically, small businesses haven’t had the tools to succeed and compete with bigger companies. There hasn’t been an affordable solution to minimize communicational friction with their customers.
Communication is a massive challenge for any business, and many of today’s products on the market aren’t intended for small businesses due to price or complexity. Small businesses don’t need multiple threads in email to communicate with their customers. They need a unified platform that allows for one streamlined conversation.
Small businesses should be able to focus on what they do best – serving their customers and growing their businesses. Today’s SMB owners might have an advantage in the market with the ability to adapt to new policies and mindsets at a faster rate than bigger corporations. To bridge the tech skills generational gap, business owners will need to adapt sooner than anticipated if they want to attract and retain a younger customer base who has the purchasing power.
Ryan Cantor is the Chief Product Officer at Thryv.