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How The Gen Z Workforce Is Driving Customer Service Technology Design: Tips to Build (and keep) a Gen Z Workforce

by Brad Snedeker, Director, Product Marketing, Calabrio - September 1, 2020

How the Gen Z Workforce is Driving Customer Service Technology Design: Tips to build (and keep) a Gen Z workforce
Brad Snedeker, Director, Product Marketing, Calabrio

Gen Z, typically defined as those born between 1995 and 2010, now outnumber millennials and make up 40% of the workforce and consumer population. They have a unique perspective on customer service and engagement defined by a desire to be fair to all, to listen and to be heard. 

Gen Z are digital natives — the first generation to grow up immersed in mobile, social and digital media, which means that they expect the digital tools and platforms they use at work to be highly available, intuitive and collaborative. 

HR teams across industries are already trying to decode Gen Z to meet their future needs for work environments (in-person and remote), career development and compensation. But beyond these operational functions, customer service and contact center leaders looking to recruit this up-and-coming generation must evaluate their own systems, technologies and tools to meet changing expectations. 

Know Your Audience

Constant interactions with mobile devices and social media conditioned Gen Z to a world where everything they do can be completed, documented, uploaded and modified quickly and easily. Collaborative technology enabled an unprecedented level of sharing, shaping the way Gen Z makes human connections. 

For employers, this constant sharing as a way of connecting with others is critical to engagement, happiness and job satisfaction. But it also sets the precedent that Gen Z employees will have equal access to other people’s shared information. From a contact center perspective this means building or deploying contact center workforce applications that successfully connect Gen Z to shared data and, through analytics, empowering them to use the data to solve problems, drive innovation and support customers.

Many of our traditional contact center platforms fall short of the highly collaborative, personalized, data-driven applications that Gen Z has come to expect. For contact center leaders looking to attract (and retain) the new generation, here are four considerations for upgrading internal applications to enable a new workforce. 

Use apps as the design foundation

By deploying internal applications that have the look and feel of commonly used mobile, social and consumer apps, contact center leaders can help Gen Z acclimate to workforce technology much quicker than if employees are forced to adjust to older or dated application interfaces.

Gen Z’s ability to be constantly mobile means that they expect cloud-based tools that are accessible anywhere: work, home, on the road. They expect features that facilitate simple communication and collaboration, displayed in a concise, easily consumed format on desktops, tablets and smartphones. 

Carefully selecting workforce applications with these design elements will lead to faster adoption, enabling organizations to onboard Gen Z quickly, improve employee satisfaction with the tools they need to do their job and even reduce agent turnover. 

Adopt a “simplicity by design” philosophy

The best contact center platforms for Gen Z should act like a friendly guide, helping employees not only gain confidence quickly, but reinforcing the message that employees always have a support system. Applications that provide contextual help that pops up as users interact with the app is much more beneficial than software that overwhelms the user by dumping all the information up front or forcing them to leave the app for help. Consider the use of “wizards” to guide users through complex processes, allowing Gen Zers to self-teach as much as they can.

Finally, ensure that your platforms support all your users, from geeks to technophobes. For example, while you want to ‘hand hold’ those who struggle, make it easy for power users to turn this feature off when they’re confident in their own skills. More experienced agents don’t want to feel like they’re being treated the same as new employees. 

Use AI to package up insights and put them at users’ fingertips 

Gen Z are accustomed to personalization. Consider how Amazon’s recommendation engine suggests products to buy Or Netflix suggests content to watch based on a user’s historical behavior. This same desire holds true among the customer service workforce as well. Agents want personalized feedback on performance and goals, and they want it in the moment – not six months later. 

Using AI-enabled tools in the contact center can provide teams with faster insights and action points for elevating the customer experience in the moment. And because it is based off of real conversations and keywords, feedback can be unique to each employee. 

Radial, a BPO contact center uses AI-powered sentiment analysis to assess agent language and interactions so leaders can drive more positive, supportive conversations with customers. While desktop, voice or text analytics are often used as a training tool, collecting positive examples of interactions based on automated analytics and sharing those to reward and elevate exceptional employees can go a long way with Gen Z teams. 

Encourage self-service technology

Look for every opportunity to let tech-savvy Gen Z employees help themselves. Employee self-service, like customer self-service, is a win-win, allowing individuals to complete processes or get help at their own pace while lessening the burden on other employees. Since Gen Z employees will expect access to applications and information using the channel and device of their choice, leaders will need to develop an omnichannel strategy for supporting internal self-service. 

Every generation has unique characteristics and sees the world through different filters. For Gen Z, one of the most important filters is the technology environment they grew up with, which has shaped how they view and interact with the world. A strategy of simplicity and user-friendly interfaces, tools that offer guidance and personalization, and the ability to self-serve in order to advance personal knowledge have all left a lasting impact on Gen Z. These influences will continue to shape how the next generation lives, plays and works. Smart companies looking to create a competitive advantage and attract the best and brightest of Gen Z should be evolving now, to be ready for the next wave of employees. 

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