Four Ways to Lead Millennial Agents to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience

Our world is largely ruled by millennials. That's because they make up a majority of the workforce and will represent 75 percent of the workforce by 2030. This generation marches to the beat of its own drum, and while they can come across as a high-maintenance bunch to some, millennials are impactful workers.

Everyone wants to tap into the potential of the millennial generation, which is why so many studies, surveys, theories, and articles have focused on understanding what makes them tick. When it comes to leveraging this group for customer support roles, there's one key component that will lead to success: collaboration.

A recent study by Harvard Business Review found that contact centers that implement network judgment climates, where reps rely more on advice and guidance from colleagues than company policies and procedures to inform their own decisions, perform 50 percent better than the average contact center. The millennial workforce craves a more hands-on and collaborative approach to work, so it's time for the contact center to adapt to help this generation flourish as agents.

Here are four practices you can implement to make your contact center more millennial-friendly, increase collaboration, and create positive customer engagement.

1. Provide regular communications, objective performance metrics, and feedback.

The millennial generation values self-improvement and personal growth. Millennials tend to crave feedback on their performance. Eighty-seven percent of millennials agree that career development is important in a job, yet only 19 percent of millennials say they receive routine feedback. In addition to this, they look for mentorship to learn how to be better at their jobs. Provide them with regular communications and coaching to not only improve their individual performance as customer service agents but also help align them with corporate goals to drive the overall success of your operations and customer support.

2. Build an inclusive culture that rewards collaborative behavior.

Strong morale is directly correlated to retention and is the key to driving your return on agent investment, which can be up to two-thirds of your contact center's total operational budget. Millennials thrive when they feel like they work in an environment that values the work they do. According to a study by Fidelity, millennials will take a $7,600 pay cut to work at a job that provides a better environment for them. An inclusive culture is key to keeping your people happy and engaged, so implement programs that reward collaborative behavior to encourage your agents to act as part of a team.

3. Encourage new ways of collaboration and learning.

Another component that makes millennials tick is continuing to learn new things. In a report from Gallup, "How Millennials Want to Work and Live", 59 percent of millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job. This ties back to the urge for constant self-improvement and growth. Identify, share, and review positive and problematic customer interactions to provide coaching and learning opportunities to agents. You can also accelerate the agents' training to improve productivity, which is critical to a company's profitability and success.

4. Take a modern approach to millennial agents.

More apparent than any other trait of millennials is their adoption of technology and social media. Contact centers should use social methods with which millennial agents are familiar, such as tagging, annotations, and file sharing, to collaborate. This means collaboration tools will be essential to a productive and successful contact center.

A standard approach to contact centers is to implement programs that minimize risk. As a result, customer support has turned into micro-managed jobs for agents and scripted, inauthentic experiences for customers. The millennial generation is driving a positive and much-needed change, which is improving the overall customer experience to ultimately lead to increased revenue. But to achieve this, organizations will need to adopt practices, like the ones listed above, that will enable the millennial generation to thrive. When in doubt, look to collaboration as your north star.

Tim Richter is director of cloud contact center product marketing at 8x8. He has 15 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, with roles spanning finance, operations, product management, and maintenance support.