Gen Z and TikTok: The Future of Customer Service?
The younger generation, particularly Gen Z, has embraced TikTok as a platform. We’ve all seen people dancing in the middle of the street or stopping people to ask questions with a tiny microphone.
But Gen Z is also using TikTok in a surprising way; they use it for their customer service. TikTok search allows users to self-serve in much the same way older generations would use Google. By searching for “best places to eat in Manchester”, TikTok serves up videos of content creators talking about that specific topic. And with features like TikTok Q&A, users can easily ask questions of the people they follow.
In short, TikTok’s short-form video format and user-friendly interface make it a compelling space for sharing experiences, product reviews, and customer service enquiries. TikTok, and platforms like it, are changing the expectations of younger generations and brands may need to rethink their digital approach to keep a competitive edge.
The Rise of 24/7 Customer Expectations
The instantaneous nature of social media platforms, TikTok included, has set a new expectations for younger generations. When you’re used to finding all your answers on the internet, a slow interaction is no longer good enough. Webchats, self-serve, and even telephony are preferential to email or a social media conversation that takes hours (or even days!) to finish.
Users now expect fast responses from brands within minutes. TikTok’s real-time commenting system and direct messaging features mean that brands need to invest in 24/7 customer service teams to address customer queries as soon as they come in.
On TikTok, content creators can use a feature called TikTok Lives where they’re able to stream in real time. These videos might include unboxing reviews, product recommendations, or customer service experiences. Brands can use TikTok Lives for product launches, Q&A sessions, or simply to boost engagement. Lives frequently garner substantial engagement, as viewers chime in with their own experiences and questions and it gives brands an opportunity to provide instant answers.
Trust in People over Brands
One interesting aspect of Gen Z’s use of TikTok for customer service is their growing trust in individuals over brands. Older generations are brand loyalists. They will shop with the same brand their whole lives. As for younger generations? We found that over half of customers below the age of 30 have stopped buying from a brand after a negative customer service experience.
And this is in large part because younger generations don’t trust businesses in the same way they used to. So the future of customer service is in individuals, not brands. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram provide younger customers with a space to follow influencers and foster a kind of one-sided relationship with them. Gen Z often finds reviews, recommendations, and advice from everyday users to be more authentic and trustworthy than polished brand communications. A brand is always seen as trying to sell, whilst a person is only making recommendations based on their own experiences. This shift is challenging traditional advertising and marketing strategies and increasing the new for businesses to provide authentic, transparent, and relatable people from their company to interact with customers.
How Brands Can Revolutionize Their Approach
With Gen Z’s emphasis on authentic interactions and the fast-paced nature of platforms like TikTok, brands must revolutionize if they want to keep up with the future of customer service. Whilst we’re not advocating for every brand to start their own TikTok account, it is wise to take some of the learnings from the platform and apply them elsewhere in your customer service strategy.
An Omnichannel Approach
You need dedicated teams to monitor and respond to customer inquiries on all channels that are relevant to your business. With customers expecting a reply within minutes, you can’t afford to miss any incoming interactions. Implementing good customer service software will often help with this problem by giving your team a centralised view of every channel.
Authenticity and Transparency
It can be difficult to make a brand – especially a larger business – feel human. And, even if you find a single persona to front your brand image, it isn’t guaranteed to work if you’re not authentic about your approach. Instead, focus on improving transparency between your brand and your customers. Be proactive in your customer care by addressing issues before they begin. For example, if you’re facing a stock shortage, make sure you send out an email or text to every customer just to let them know. Address customer concerns openly and don’t be afraid to admit mistakes; it makes you look more human!
Think Beyond Customer Service
Younger customers want more from the brands they buy from. They want to feel like they can trust you and they want to know that the products or services they’re buying are worth the cost. To bridge that gap, take a dive into your customer care data.
Work closely with your marketing team to create informative and engaging content that adds value to your customers’ lives. This could be in the form of how-to videos, product demonstrations, or simply answering your frequently asked questions. To take it a step further, consider partnering with influencers who align with the brand’s values so that customers can see your products or services in the hands of individuals they trust.
In conclusion, TikTok is reshaping the way we think about customer service by placing the power in the hands of Gen Z and emphasizing trust in individuals over brands. This shift is forcing companies to adapt to the rapid pace and transparency that Gen Z values. To thrive, brands must embrace this revolution and reconnect with their customers on a more personal and authentic level. The customer service of tomorrow is taking shape on platforms like TikTok, and it’s a space where both customers and brands have much to gain.