Customer experience for Gen Z and Gen Alpha


Conventional wisdom has most of us believing that individuals of a certain age (born sometime after MTV came on air) no longer use phones as a device to make calls. Emails, directions, general information on whether a restaurant is good? Yes. Calls? Less so.

Many mediums have usurped the humble call’s place to communicate. Social media and voice notes on instant messaging are alternative ways to having an actual real-time conversation with someone the old-fashioned way. Having the luxury to think about, proof-read and edit messages has provided a safety net for younger generations, who can find receiving a phone call from someone stressful or odd. 

Yet, there is some nuance to this shift in behavior. Phone calls, as it turns out, aren’t a bad thing; not when it makes things easier. 

A recent report has found that 71% of Gen Z customers believe that live phone calls are a quicker and more convenient way to solve a customer service matter. This new research certainly conflicts with the ‘digital-first’ Gen Z stereotype and suggests that this audience group shouldn’t be pigeonholed.

So what is the favored communication channel for these Gen Z, prospective student audiences? The truth is, when it comes to customer experience – there’s a right channel for each stage of the student funnel.

The need for immediate response

Gen Z are the on-demand generation. Social media and technology at large has been the main driver in this. The need for instant gratification has grown dramatically and our patience for wait times has taken a big hit – whether it be a slower than usual internet connection, dinner delivered to our door or a next day delivery of that outfit you wanted. With Gen Z and Gen Alpha having been brought up with these expectations off the bat, they have no patience for slow and fragmented operations or communication channels.

Their approach to the student enrollment journey is no different. It can be a stressful time, with students often navigating the process for the first time and with varying levels of support from their parents and school. Whether it be income verification checks for financial aid, checking off transcripts or organizing recommendations – there's almost always a litany of research and paperwork involved. Throw the pressures of application deadlines into the mix and you’ve got a potent cocktail of highly stressful situations, and the student is left feeling the need to have it all solved asap.

The idea that your student audience wants answers and they wanted them yesterday, should drive your university communication channels. Delivering the best customer experience that you can will create a seamless student journey and will minimize the amount of prospective students who fall through the net, so to speak.


Communication channels for the modern student


Phone hotline

While it’s true that Gen Z and Gen Alpha audiences generally hate receiving phone calls due to their impromptu nature, interestingly they don’t mind making the call themselves. A recent report found that perhaps the only thing that baby boomers and Gen Zers do agree on is phoning companies directly to solve their customer service problems, particularly when dealing with an issue or when they are near the bottom of the sales funnel.

Students in the latter stages of the student funnel find reassurance in real-time, voice-based communication, especially when dealing with complex or sensitive issues like enrollment or financial aid. A phone hotline offers immediate human interaction, providing quick resolutions and personalized attention that digital natives still value for certain types of inquiries. 

For nailing this channel, ensure that calls are answered quickly, ideally within the first few rings, to meet the expectations of immediacy. Equip hotline staff with thorough training about all university aspects, from admission processes to specific departmental queries, to make sure that issues can be resolved quickly and without transferring calls multiple times. It could also be worth offering extended service hours during peak application and enrollment periods to accommodate different time zones and busy schedules.


Instant Messaging via Text and WhatsApp


Text messaging and WhatsApp are ingrained in the daily lives of Gen Z and Gen Alpha. These channels offer a blend of immediacy and convenience, with the added benefit of asynchronous communication and time to think before responding. These platforms allow students to get quick answers to their questions while on the go, fitting seamlessly into their cell phone-centric lifestyles.

These messages can be used throughout the student funnel to communicate with prospective students. Whether it be in the form of an alert about application deadlines or a reminder to sign up for the upcoming open day and then directions once they arrive on campus.

To ensure seamless instant messaging communication, integrate these messaging services with your CRM systems to provide personalized and context-aware responses. Employ a friendly and informal tone that resonates well with the younger audience and mimics their usual messaging interactions. But do remember to secure consent for contact and ensure compliance with data protection regulations when communicating through these personal channels.


AI-powered chatbots


AI-powered chatbots can provide instantaneous responses to common questions 24/7, addressing the ‘always-on’ mentality of Gen Z and Gen Alpha.

These chatbots can handle a high volume of simultaneous inquiries, reducing wait times and delivering instant gratification – so these are a perfect option for those in the early stages of the student funnel, looking for quick answers while information gathering on your social media or website. 

To get this channel right, implement advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) to ensure the chatbot can understand and process user queries effectively and provide relevant and accurate responses. Ensure there’s a feature to allow the chatbot to recognize when a query requires human intervention, which then smoothly transitions the user to a live agent without losing context.


By using a communication mix centered around how these younger generations want to communicate, universities can increase the reliability and efficiency of their enrollment management. The bottom line is – with the availability of the right communication channels, the number of students getting lost in the process from awareness to enrollment will reduce and there will be more bums on seats come the start of the Fall semester.

Interested in learning more about the right messaging and channels for Gen Z and Gen Alpha? Read our articles below.