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The State of Customer Care in 2030

4 minute read

By McKinsey & Company Operations

In this new era of customer care, brands need to adapt or die/fail/cease to exist. When it comes to customer needs, many brands still are not getting it 100% right. A number of recent surveys have emerged, stating that customer service protocols have either stayed the same or worsened since the onset COVID-19 pandemic, which uprooted many operations of businesses across industries. As a result, leaders have had to adapt existing systems and ways of working to develop new processes for both technological and generational shifts.

McKinsey and Company recently launched a survey titled “State of Customer Care 2023-24,” where customer service leaders from brands across industries identified trends, opportunities, and challenges in the customer care sector, shedding light on what we should expect to see in 2030. 


According to survey findings, companies who excel at demonstrating customer intimacy generate faster rates of revenue growth than their peers. The surge in online interactions since the onset of the pandemic escalated expectations—giving consumers more exposure to the personalisation practices of e-commerce leaders and raising the bar for competitors. From web to mobile and in-person interactions, consumers now view personalisation as the default standard for engagement.

From a sales and marketing perspective, there are some differences and similarities across generations in how they interact with companies, affecting how brands need to market and engage these audiences. One thing is true, brands will need to make themselves accessible to their audiences in 2024.

Millennials grew up in the age of digital app adoption and while Gen Z’s relationship to technology has been an innate part of their daily lives, it does not take away from their desire for person-to-person interaction. In fact, the vast majority (71%) of Gen Z expect that access to customer service across a multitude of channels should be included in the product or service they pay for. Reaching a representative by phone is more convenient and preferable when communicating more complex issues than with a virtual representative, and 74% believe that chat is crucial. Gen Z is also 35-40% more likely to call a customer service representative than their millennial counterparts, which constitutes a striking finding that further refutes the notion that Gen Z would not be as likely to pick up the phone to speak with a customer representative for an issue they’re trying to solve, or with a question to garner further information using the telephone.

Knowing this, brands need to cater their marketing, sales, and communication channels according to these patterns in consumer needs, including their social media channels, email marketing campaigns, and advertising outreach. An example of this would be for a brand to utilise a QR code as part of a commercial for a product or specific service that enables consumers quick access to the information they seek and would allow companies to capture inbound leads from the code, but also include live chat and phone features that create optionality. Failing to do so might result in a “drop off” in leads from the site should consumers not be able to seek answers to their questions while the brand has their attention.

“Brands will need to signal a better understanding of who their customer is and what their individual needs are,” commented Eric Buesing, Partner, and Head of the McKinsey & Company Customer Care Division.


As a society, we are beginning to embrace AI through tools like ChatGPT and understand that its capabilities will play a massive role in new adoptions and shifts throughout all sectors of the customer experience. However, this does not mean these technologies will serve as a “catch-all” approach to solve every problem. AI-powered does not mean automation-only. Chatbots and similar technology can deliver proactive customer outreach, reducing human-assisted volumes and costs while simplifying the client experience. 

Nevertheless, many customers will continue to utilise multiple channels in their ongoing experience. To leapfrog competitors' use of customer service and foster engagement, companies can start by focusing on a few imperatives such as maximising every customer touchpoint, whether digital or assisted, to enhance customer experience and scale efficiencies. Across generations, person-to-person experience and capabilities still reign supreme.

As customers demand recognition and a higher quality of service from the companies and brands they care about the most, those who prioritise personalised service will continue to grow and garner greater market share across generations. As we’ve seen since COVID-19, this is not simply a trend, but a strategic advantage that will continue to shape the future of engagement and build brand advocacy and awareness for years to come.

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