Contact Center Technology and the Millennial Employee

Guest Post by Joanna Jones of Impact Learning Systems As more and more Baby Boomers retire, the Millennials are quickly filling their places. There has been a lot written about the generational conflicts and opportunities within the workplace, and contact centers are among those industries affected. The Millennial generation, also known as Gen-Y, has by-and-large been given a bad rap. Some of it is deserved, but drill down and you find that many of the conflicts that plague the workplace have to do with rigid corporate cultures that cater to Gen-X and Baby Boomers and haven't yet adapted to the ethos and working style of Gen-Y. There are a number of steps that call centers can take to better accommodate Gen-Y employees. When the strengths of this generation are considered, it's easy to see that this cohort is best able to handle the quickly changing environment surrounding contact centers. Millennials are known as technological natives, are known for their collaborative approaches to problem solving, and are often more loyal to their co-workers than their employer. Given these generalizations and given where the contact center industry is headed, there is a natural fit between the two groups. Some of the technologies being deployed in contact centers to increase efficiencies, profitability, and customer satisfaction include migrating to cloud-based technology, incorporating gamification strategies and tactics, and mobile apps. Let's take a look at how Millennial employees are best able to handle these disruptions to the contact center. Cloud-Base Technologies Every year it seems more and more companies are switching their operating systems over to the cloud. For many businesses, migrating to cloud-based systems means lower costs and more flexibility. Other organizations have found that a hybrid approach of in-house IT and cloud-based support works best. So how does this fit in with Millennials? This generation has grown up with rapidly changing technological advances and is adept and flexible when it comes to new technologies being introduced in the workplace. They don't blink an eye when there is a system upgrade or an entire new operating system is introduced. Of course, training needs to occur around any new platform or system, but this generation seems better able to roll with the ever changing landscape of how contact centers operate. Gamification Gamification strategies dovetail nicely with Millennials as they grew up in a culture of video games and gaming devices. They have learned not to become too attached to how they interact with any particular game, as the gaming world is in a constant state of flux and is being tweaked and upgraded regularly. Additionally, many of the more popular video games are multi-player with many gamers joining in to play from all over the world. Some organizations have begun to harness the strategies and tactics used in gaming culture and apply it to the contact center. A sampling of some of the gamification strategies that contact centers employ include instant feedback, "badges," competition between employees or teams, building community and "leveling up." Basically, contact center managers are beginning to speak the language of its predominantly Gen-Y workforce by introducing concepts and strategies that this generation can relate to and be inspired by. When gaming strategies are coupled with the KPI targets, a winning combination can be found and the true talents of Gen-Y employees realized. Mobile Apps and Mobility Mobile apps are becoming an increasingly important part of how companies communicate with their customers. Harnessing the insight of Gen-Y employees into the functionality of your app is like having a built-in focus group at the ready. It's also predicted that mobility will play a bigger role in contact centers in the near future, meaning that the traditional phone/computer configuration will become a thing of the past. While there are still a lot of bugs to work out regarding infrastructure, compatibility, and other connectivity issues, it is safe to say the Gen-Y employees are better able to handle these disruptive changes, as it's what they've grown up with and are well accustomed to. There is no doubt that today's working environment is changing rapidly. There are many influences driving these changes, from rapidly evolving technologies, customer's communication preferences, to a younger workforce. Those companies that have the foresight to prepare for the impending disruptions and plan and strategize accordingly will be the companies that are still in business in the long run. Millennials will be key players in how customer facing industries move forward, so the earlier that companies adapt their culture to accommodate this cohort, the sooner they will see the payoff.

Joanna Jones is a professional copywriter and marketing strategist who has partnered with Impact Learning Systems for five years. As a marketing professional, Joanna works closely with customer service teams and helps companies improve their B2B and B2C communications and strategy.

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