Back to School – prepare now to nurture tomorrow’s budding customer service professionals;
September has that “back to school” feeling and Ben Willmott of Teleopti recommends three simple workforce management strategies to attract the brightest young talent and keep ahead of the competition
According to current estimates more than 1.1 million[i] people are employed in UK contact centres and a substantial number are from the younger generation. In just five years’ time, today’s youth will form 50% of the global workforce. What’s more, their career expectations and technical know-how will shape the workplaces of the future, putting new pressures on companies wishing to attract the best young talent to drive business growth and keep one step ahead of the competition.
So what is the secret to becoming the employer of choice for the younger generation and how do you prevent them from straying to the competition? Don’t delay in taking the first step, prepare now. Start by understanding the psychology of today’s up and coming customer service professional. What really makes them tick?
In a nutshell, young people are, in the words of DMG Consulting, “a highly social generation that puts work/life balance ahead of their careers.”[ii] They work hard and they play hard. At the same time, they need to be constantly acknowledged, rewarded and engaged in the workplace. They desire – and expect – to be involved in everything from the company mission to the contact centre team and the customers they serve, and they want to make a difference right away.
The next step is to transform your contact centre environment, adapting it to bring out the very best in budding young customer service professionals. Combining a flexible framework with the latest Workforce Management (WFM) technology is the way to go. Here are three strategies to get you started:
Support flexible working through self-service – people take great pride in what they do but young talent doesn’t function well in a rigid, authoritarian environment. They need to know the rules and what is expected of them but, beyond that, give them a little freedom. The younger generation loves to self-serve so take advantage of self-service technology to add flexibility whilst ensuring contact centre and customer service objectives are met.
Recent innovations in self-service capabilities allow agents to access their schedules through web-based portals such as MyTime portal in Teleopti. There, agents trade shifts, pick up unexpected shifts just freed up, voice their preferences for overtime and request time off. Having a say in schedule preferences gives them a sense of empowerment and offers them a better work-life balance.
Engage and empower – make the most of mobility – take a look around you – when do you ever see a young person without some sort of mobile device? Mobility is here to stay. Be prepared for youthful employees using multiple apps, working from more than one device and working in various locations. Rather than fight it, ensure you exploit mobility to help your young agents flourish!
Introduce gamification – the new generation’s need for constant feedback has driven the development of the gamification sector. The latest WFM technology incorporates gamification features that motivate employees, encourage healthy competition and reward individual and team performance in a fun environment. Use gamification to:
– Create an online social community that increases collaboration, provides access to knowledge bases, gives agents a forum to share learning and top tips, ask their more mature colleagues for advice and communicate major achievements to give that all-round feel-good factor young people crave
– Utilise dashboards to provide a real-time snapshot of employee and team performance against specific contact centre KPIs or customer SLAs
– Make star employees shine! Recognise exceptional performance by awarding points and badges for measurable metrics such as average handling times and first contact resolution successes.
Understand what makes the customer service professionals of tomorrow tick. Follow these three simple steps and your contact centre will be rewarded with a workforce that will want to stay with you, confident they have a well thought-out career path and the ability to make a real difference.
Ben Willmott is a workforce management consultant at Teleopti UK