Bruce von Maltitz, co-founder and joint-CEO of 1Stream, discusses the generation gap that is increasingly apparent in the business environment, and how contact centres can evolve to make the most of it.
There is a growing repository of literature focussed on the challenges that businesses face when dealing with the millennial generation – whether as consumers or employees.
While adapting to the changing demands and trends that come with each new generation is nothing new – businesses have already had to shift expectations and strategies to accommodate Generation X and Generation Y – but if the Baby Boomers taught us anything, it’s that the larger a particular generation is in numbers, the more influence they have, and the millennial generation is now the largest in the world.
So, if you have not yet updated your business and contact centre strategies to respond to this, now is the time.
The millennial employee
By 2025, three out of every four employees will be from the millennial generation. This is the generation that is tech savvy, enjoys instant gratification and goes where the best deal can be found – rather than remaining loyal to a particular brand.
The characteristics of millennials have a significant impact on how businesses and contact centres attract, train and retain staff, and organisations simply cannot afford to ignore these trends.
While it was not uncommon for Baby Boomers to stick with one company for the duration of their career, millennials job hop – changing companies frequently and often even shifting careers altogether. Holding on to key staff requires providing attractive opportunities in the form of a clear career path, as well as perks such as bonuses, and incentives through gamification that recognise quality work.
To some extent, contact centres need to also accept that their staff are likely to move on at some point, requiring a reevaluation of training and upskilling. A traditional approach often only sees new staff becoming valuable after a number of months, but in a market where a staff member may only be around for a year or two, this is not a viable scenario.
E-learning provides useful solutions to this challenge both from the perspective of time efficiency and learning preferences – millennials favour online tools that provide them with the flexibility to access information in a way they like and at a time that suits them.
However, all the best tools and apps will fall flat if a clear business strategy is not in place to manage the process and ensure all aspects are being implemented effectively. Putting this in place should always be the first step.
The millennial consumer
As the millennial generation matures, they will eclipse the Baby Boomers not only in their numbers in the workforce, but in their spending power. This means that they will also become the driving force behind how businesses and contact centres interact with their customers.
Importantly for contact centres, it’s about providing seamless interaction using communication channels that are preferred by millennials. Voice calls are no longer the primary means of communication, and most millennials favour email and chat, or self-help services like chatbots.
These channels meet the need for instant answers in a way that millennials appreciate.
But equally, making assumptions about which channels or services to provide can lead to challenges later on, which is why implementing effective analytics and reporting should be an industry standard in contact centres.
Through these reports, it is possible to identify trends, preferences and areas that need attention, allowing businesses to dedicate time and resources in the right places.
Whether looking internally at staff or externally at customers, the key is constant and careful analysis and reflection, and never getting stuck in doing the same thing because it worked today – tomorrow things will be different.