Man receives calls on his smartphone

Gen Z and Millennials: The mute generation

“I had my phone on silent”, “Feel free to send me a voice message” or “Sorry, no network” are some of the excuses young people use to avoid answering calls. According to a study, about 80% of Generation Z and Millennials are afraid to make or answer a call. But what is it all about, and more specifically, what does it mean for tomorrow’s customer service? Mehr dazu in unserem Beitrag.

The number and simultaneous use of mobile devices has grown significantly in today’s digital age. Even in German private households, calls are now made more frequently via smartphones than via fixed line telephones*¹. At the same time, you may be surprised to learn that the overall number of telephone calls is decreasing sharply.


Telephoning – a question of habit?

Millennials or Generation Y, born roughly between 1980 and 1994, and Generation Z, born roughly between 1995 and 2010*², are the users who most frequently use mobile phones and interact with other people via social networks. But they are also the ones who have lost the habit of interacting live. This is not so much a communication problem as a matter of habit, which will limit their communication skills in the medium and long term.


Generation Silent – Why are people talking on the phone less?

Late-born millennials and early-born digital natives (Generation Z), often referred to as “Generation Silent”, prefer to use messengers such as WhatsApp or social media for their communication, where it is not necessary for interlocutors to meet in real time. They prefer text messages and therefore pick up the phone less and less.

The generation feels that taking a call is an intrusion into their daily lives and takes up a lot of time. This was reported by 75% of respondents in a US study*³. Respondents feel that spontaneous calls are intrusive because calls interrupt what they are doing. At the same time, they don’t know how long a call will keep them busy.


Gen Z and Millennials – Simple, convenient and non-intrusive

The reasons why Millennials and Generation Z dislike making phone calls can be summarised as follows:

  • The generation perceives calls as an intrusion into their daily lives
  • Fear of verbal confrontation and unpleasant conversations
  • Voice messages that allow people to repeat and correct what is said are less risky

Both generations can therefore be described as convenient and simple. They demand less intrusive and asynchronous communication options where there is sufficient time to consider communication content. At the same time, they prefer the possibility of avoiding risky situations within communication. But not all the reasons can be explained by the convenience of the generation. There is a serious syndrome that, due to a sharp increase in screen time, has now become the undoing of some.



“Telephonophobia” refers to the anxiety caused by having to communicate with someone by voice. Four out of five respondents in the study*³ admitted that they have to prepare before a call because they fear saying something unpleasant and panicking.

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What does this mean for customer service?

Generation Z and the Millennials are not only having a major impact on recruiting or acquisition processes in the professional world*⁴, but also on the requirements in customer service. This is because digital habits from (private) everyday life influence the expectations of companies’ services and products.

While phoning is indispensable in some industries and life situations within this sceptical generation and consequently voice calls will not disappear anytime soon, it is nevertheless certain that dysphoria from phoning will be an overriding habit of the current and upcoming generation. However, the new findings should not be taken as something negative, but should be accepted as a new reality and opportunity that companies have to deal with now at the latest. Companies that are already thinking about tomorrow’s target group today are utilising this advantage to set themselves apart from the competition.


Conclusion: Let your customers decide for themselves!

Companies are confronted with increasingly demanding customers who want to express their concerns as quickly as possible and preferably only once. They demand seamless and integrated experiences where they choose how they engage with businesses. One way to solve this challenge is to have self-service technologies in place that eliminate the need for face-to-face contact with customer service. However, customers can decide for themselves when and whether they would like to have a personal exchange with the customer service regarding their concern – for example, via contact channels such as callback, chat or the classic phone call.



1: Bundesnetzagentur: Marktentwicklung Telekommunikation

2: Institut für Generationenforschung – Augsburg

3: Studie: Why Millennials hate talking on the phone

4: “To buy or not to buy”Eine Studie von IBM


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Through her agency experience and in-depth research, Cynthia has extensive knowledge of the customer service industry and its future development.

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