Social media gives consumers more access to the brands they like. And brands are using these channels to engage with their customers on a more personal level. But this relationship is changing as users reexamine the impact of social media on their lives.
A survey from Ooma  is highlighting this trend, as it reveals Gen Zers prefer communicating using the phone or in-person with local businesses. Only 17% of Generation Z say they like to use social media to communicate with local businesses.
The reasons they state include being impersonal (30%) and taking longer to get a response (35%). So they use a phone because it is much faster to get things done compared to texting and social media
So, it is not surprising email is the least preferred method of communicating for this group. Without the right notification system in place, an email can remain unopened for some time.
However, the need to communicate quickly and getting a response is not limited to Gen Zers only. In the press release, Ken Narita, director of business marketing at Ooma, says a phone is best for urgent and day to day communication.
Narita adds , “Phone conversations provide an authentic experience that allows for quick actions and solutions, and it’s clear that local businesses need to offer a clear way for people to reach them and communicate in this preferred method.” And for small businesses who are not optimizing their social media presence, this is good news.
Generation Z Prefers Personal Interactions
According to the survey, if given an option, Gen Zers rather have direct and personal conversations over all other means of communication.
More than half or 57% prefer phone over electronic communication. And 35% say the primary reason is the speed in which they are able to communicate.
When they are contacting doctors, dentists and other health care professionals, hair and beauty salons, auto centers and legal and tax services, they want a phone. This includes when they want to book an appointment.
For example, when it comes time to book a hotel, only 8% of Gen Zers want to use text or social media. But almost half or 47% choose to call local hotels.
Although everyone seems to be on a screen all day long, overall more people (57%) would choose human-to-human contact. Whether it is face-to-face or phone, baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials and Gen Zers all prefer personal interactions.
The data in the survey is similar to a recent report which also says Gen Zers are leaving social media. In that particular report,  34% of them said they are giving up social media for good, while 64% are considering taking a break.
The reasons include everything from too much negativity (36%) to not interested in the content they see (26%), needing privacy (22%) and the over-commercialization of social media (17%).
For local small businesses, the key is to make multiple options available. There will always be customers who will prefer one platform over another. And if your business has a particular demographic you have to provide the solutions they prefer using. Narita emailed Small Business Trends to address this particular issue.
He said, “Understanding generational differences is crucial for companies in building relationships with their customers.” Adding, “Millennials (ages 25 to 39) have been the focus in recent years, but now that Gen Z (ages 4 to 24) has spending power, businesses must understand this generation as well. Millennials were known for preferring digital communications.”
As this survey reveals, Gen Zers are not as digitally-focused when it comes to personal communication. They value real human connection, preferring phone calls or in-person meetings for doing business.
According to Ooma, this is a generation with an annual spending power of up to $153 billion. And understanding how they like to communicate with businesses is key to attracting them as customers.
Narita concludes by saying, “For small businesses, this means that to attract loyal customers among Gen Z, you need to consider how to create real-life interactions, whether in-person or on the phone, not just digital connections.”
The good news is you can have all of these communications tools without busting your budget. The key is making yourself available on all of them. You have to respond to customer request as quickly as possible. And if you do, everyone from Gen Zers to baby boomers will be happy when they connect with you.