Five Generations of Agents Embracing One Technology?

Five Generations of Agents Embracing One Technology

At this moment, there are four generations of agents at work in contact centers: Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials (Gen Y). There will soon be a fifth one joining them: Gen Z. Talk about a diverse workforce. Generational “membership” is consequential. How people view the world in general, and work in particular, is influenced by when they were born and the historical/social environment in which they grew up. Generational identity will help determine how contact center agents learn to do their jobs, use the technology needed to do them, perceive and interact with customers, relate to co-workers, and respond to management.

The Generational Tech Divide
The way in which they approach technology – its purpose and how to use it – is a key differentiator among the generations. The Millennial embrace of technology is legendary. Having spent their entire lives “plugged in,” Millennials are as comfortable with the digital world as Boomers were with wired telephony and 45’ gramophone records. For them, employing the tools required to perform the duties of a customer service representative is easy. (Gen Z is at least as techie as their Gen Y elders.) Gen Xers, though not Millennial-style digital natives, embrace technology, too, and are generally at ease in a digital environment. Where the generational technology divide can become problematic is chiefly among the Boomers and Traditionalists. The Computer Age arrived long after they were adults and adapting to the new reality was, and continues to be, a challenge for some. Digital isn’t second nature to them and the constant change it represents can be overwhelming. Working in a contact center, however, means accepting the challenge, and since a substantial number are employed in that environment, they must be meeting it well enough to persist. Adopting new technology is apparently not an insurmountable impediment, not matter when agents were born.

Five Generations of Agents Embracing One Technology? Seriously?
What the title of this post suggests is a tall order, given the digital divide among the generations. WorkFlex is software, so how can it appeal to every generation at work in the contact center? The answer is that it facilitates something every generation wants.

  • Millennials, the first super-savvy tech gen, get a native mobile app that gives them a broad range of options to balance their work and personal life, which is hugely important to them
  • Gen Xers, the original take-care-of-myself “latchkey kids,” get the independence of managing their own schedules and work-activities on the mobile app
  • Boomers, goal-oriented, competitive and hardworking, get a tool via which they can work extra hours when they wish, monitor their own their team’s performance stats, and earn points through the gamification feature
  • Traditionalists, the most technologically “challenged” of the generations and the one most geared toward in-person communications, get individualized coaching and support from their supervisors, because the WorkFlex supervisor app in Manager Suite enables supervisors to go mobile and remain on the floor with their team. (And who knows, perhaps the ability to manage their schedules on a smartphone or even just in a WorkFlex browser window would ultimately appeal to them?)
  • Gen Z, the first generation who prefer digital to in-person communication, gets a native mobile app that lets them manage their work communications (and schedules) entirely online.

It is true that each of these generational groups would have to learn the WorkFlex Agent Suite interface to use it for schedule self-management, but because it’s designed to be user-friendly, the learning curve should not be too steep for anyone, even the least tech-adroit. Once learned, the rewards reaped should keep them all engaged – an attractive proposition to contact centers where employee engagement remains an often-elusive objective.

-Maya Callahan

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