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Working Succesfully with Gen Y Through Coaching

Attrition is a major frustration of call center managers. Reducing attrition is a common major goal year after year, but the formula to agent retention is complex. Layered on top of all the reasons that people tend to change jobs – a bad boss, pay, commute time, etc. – there are new elements that come into play with the widespread entry of Generation Y into the workforce.

This is the first generation to have grown up within the personal technology era.  They don’t remember a time when people didn’t have cell phones or personal computers at home.  The overwhelming access to technology, and consequently information, impacts how this generation thinks, reacts to their environment and deals with personal interactions.

As a result, companies are working with a generation that is not only willing to accept feedback, but they expect and want it – frequently, and the more the better. This comes from Generation Y obtaining so much feedback from their online interactions, and from the coaching and mentoring they received as they grew up. They don’t mind being told if they aren’t measuring up, and actually will seek this information out.

This desire for feedback generally works well within the contact center world, as most are set up with fairly robust monitoring and coaching processes. Listening to calls and providing feedback is a very common practice. What call centers may not be currently practicing is the one-on-one coaching sessions that Generation Y prefers. It isn’t enough for them to have the feedback provided on a feedback form and handed to them. They want to have a discussion. If they are failing in a certain area, they want a coach to help them know what they could or should be doing better or differently so they can succeed. Without this one-on-one discussion, they become frustrated, as they feel they are genuinely trying to do a good job, but that no one is willing to help them improve.

In addition to this coaching, Generation Y does better if they can view their statistics or their performance score across the day real-time. Almost like a video game, they can see if they are winning or losing at any given time. The ability for the agents to have access to real-time key performance indicators can have a great impact on the call center’s overall performance.

The majority of Generation Y employees are technically savvy – and contact centers should use that ability to their advantage. Call centers often have information that isn’t shared with their agents. Look at the company goals, look at what employees need (tools, skills, information, etc.) to meet those goals, and see what changes can be made to enable agents to help drive their own performance. This can be as simple as taking data such as customer feedback scores that traditionally have been only used for service levels or net promoter purposes, and utilizing it to employ developmental plans all the way down to the agent level.

To achieve continued success, call center organizations should make an effort to learn how to effectively engage with this new generation.  Like generations before, these employees are bright and eager-to-learn high performers, but they are quick to leave if they are dissatisfied.