Shep Hyken's Customer Service Blog

Guest Blog: Delivering Exceptional Customer Service Across the Generations

This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague Anna Liotta writes about how exceptional customer service means different things to each generation. This is an issue that must be understood in order to deliver an Amazing customer service experience. – Shep Hyken

Do you deliver Customer Service that makes every generation feel delighted or dismayed?

Most companies claim, “What makes us different is how we serve our clients and customers.” But all too often what is really happening is they are treating each generation of customers EXACTLY the same, and without knowing it they are ticking them off and pushing them away!

One size fits all is NOT a pattern for success when it comes to multi-generational customer service.

Delivering extraordinary customer service must be done with the customer’s GENERATIONAL CODES™ in mind. What may APPEAR to one generation as superior service may be a smack of smothering or pressure to another. 

For example, a Traditionalist customer walks into a department store to purchase a new pair of shoes. The Millennial service professional shouts out across the store, “Let me know if you need anything!” The Traditionalist mutters to herself, “How rude!” In her Generational Code™, a shout across the store is not professional or respectful customer service. She wants the service team member to at least walk across the store to greet her and then stay close by, so she doesn’t have to shout or hunt for him when she has a question. 

Here’s a seemingly similar scenario, but entirely different Generationally Savvy™ answer…A Gen Xer walks into a boutique clothing store. An older service professional walks right up and greets her by saying, “It’s such nice weather we are having! What brings you in today? Is this a special occasion? Are you celebrating something?” The Gen Xer gives the service team member a deliberately blank look and says, “No, I’m just looking,” hoping the service person will just go away. It takes EVERYTHING in the Xer’s power not to rush out of the store. Meanwhile, the Boomer team member hovers close by, ready to jump in at the slightest opening. The Gen Xer is thinking to herself, “Seriously! I know where to find you if I need you, please leave me alone!”

What we have here is a GENERATIONAL CODES™  collision. Neither approach to customer service was inherently right or wrong, but BOTH service professionals weren’t taking into account was the GENERATIONAL CODES™ of each customer.


Exceptional customer service means something DIFFERENT to each generation, and our mission is to see the world from EACH generation’s perspective and seek to serve in their GENERATIONAL CODES™.


Why Do We Serve? We serve to make our customers’ experience of using our products and services effortlessly and exceptional, to make our customers’ day.


So, how can YOU enhance your customer service experience to honor the GENERATIONAL CODES™ of each generation of customers today?
Anna Liotta, CSP is a best-selling author and award-winning speaker, and consultant who engages and energizes international audiences with her practical strategies for attracting, growing and retaining top talent and loyal clients from every generation.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article:

How To Enhance Your Customer Experience With A Wine Bar

  1. Excellent blog, and I couldn’t agree more. Generational differences need to be taken into account when trying to provide a great customer experience overall. Another example that I can think of when ‘generational codes’ matter is with customer support. Voice/ telephone support has always been the primary method for customer support (and some still prefer that channel), but, for the first time, analyst have seen the use of self-service surpass the use of the voice (Forrester). Self-service, and new methods like it need to be available as well to accommodate the needs of those that prefer new age technology.

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