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Gen Z customers would rather ghost you than complain


A recent customer service relevance report highlights a rising "ghosting" trend among Generation Z customers. Most of Gen Z now prefer silently disengaging from a brand without notice rather than raising a complaint.

16th Jun 2023

Consumers from various demographics have a common expectation: they want a service and support experience that offers relevant information at every stage of their interaction with a brand. However, a recent report highlights a rising trend among Gen Z customers. If a brand doesn’t meet Gen Z's expectations, they would rather ghost than raise a complaint. 

The report, ‘Bad Self-Service is Worse than No Self-Service’, reveals dwindling customer patience. In today's uncertain economy, organisations face the challenge of retaining and expanding their customer base. Ghosting is rising, and customers will likely leave a brand after just a few negative experiences. 

Conducted by Coveo, the report surveyed 4000 people aged 18+ across the US and UK. It reveals that while most Gen Z respondents (87%) are open to giving brands several chances, a majority (60%) indicated they would turn their back on a brand without notice once they feel they have exhausted those chances.

Customers prefer ghosting over complaining

A growing number of respondents, 55% (up from 46% in 2022), admit to rarely or never complaining about a negative digital customer service experience. Among Gen Z respondents, 60% share the same sentiment. 


Ben Richards, CXO at VMLY&R, recently discussed the importance of meeting the diverse expectations of Gen Z. According to Richards, this generation tends to favour convenience and efficiency, often opting for online booking forms over phone calls even when scheduling their GP appointments. This change in preference shows how crucial it is to adjust customer service strategies to meet the needs of Gen Z, who prioritise digital convenience.

This need for adaptation is further reinforced by the top reasons for ghosting a brand, which are:

  • Difficulties speaking with an actual person (53% overall, 49% Gen Z)
  • Conflicting information from reps (46% overall, 43% Gen Z)
  • Not being able to locate information on their own (43% overall, 40% Gen Z). 

No self-service over bad self-service

Customers get most frustrated with post-sale customer support rather than the finding or transaction process. This negative sentiment also extends to self-service, with half of the respondents preferring no self-service if the self-service experience is poor. While Gen Z is more forgiving of poor self-service, older generations show less tolerance. However, as Gen Z matures, their expectations may change. 

Only a fraction of Generation Z has reached adulthood — meaning the majority have a plethora of age-related responsibilities waiting for them.

As Patrick Martin, GM Service Solutions from Coveo, puts it: “Only a fraction of Generation Z has reached adulthood — meaning the majority have a plethora of age-related responsibilities waiting for them in the coming years. Between school, starting career paths, setting out on their own, and beginning families, time becomes a finite and precious resource. 

“Their standards will likely shift as their predecessors did. And as a demographic that grew up in digital experiences, those standards may likely gravitate to what they find easy, quick, and achievable. After all, this is the standard set by companies like Apple with the iPhone.”

So, how can businesses improve the self-service experience to minimise the risk of ghosting?

Customers prefer answers, not links

When asked how to improve a self-service experience, half (50%) prefer seeing the answer directly in the search results rather than through links. They want the actual solution instead of searching for it themselves. Other options mentioned include more intelligent chatbots (46%), advanced filtering (44%), the ability to search for help within the product (43%) and content recommendations that have helped other users (33%).


Prioritising convenience and proactive service

As the landscape evolves, businesses face the challenge of adapting to changing customer expectations to retain and expand their customer base. 

Patrick Martin explains: “Brands should ensure their digital experiences are primed to respond quickly and accurately with information that doesn’t just include knowledge bases and marketing material, but also multimedia like videos and visuals.”

To avoid being ghosted by customers, brands must proactively support their experience by implementing strategies prioritising convenience, efficiency, and accurate solutions. 

Martin continues: “Don’t stop at answering their immediate question; take the opportunity to recommend the answer to the next question that similar searchers have asked, or related content that helps them get the most out of their purchase. Proactive service builds customer loyalty.”

Replies (1)

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Aki Kalliatakis Photo
By aki.kalliatakis1
19th Jun 2023 13:49

Great article Sabine. It's just too much effort to try and get sorted when you experience a problem, so ghosting is probably the easiest option. The ideas you shared about improving the situation are well within reach of any company that wants it- but they have to want it. As for Gen Z... I'm not sure how the study was done, but I have a feeling that this trend will show up in all generations. As someone on the cusp of Silent Gen/Baby Boomer, I can assure you that the frustration is pretty real.

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