SOCAP International

Re-imagining Training: How to Engage the Next Generations of Agents

Read the full Fall 2018 issue of CRM Magazine here.


Leveraging the passion and tech savvy nature of Millennial and Gen Z agents will be a boon for your business.

Whether you’re a customer service manager, supervisor or trainer, it’s time to take a fresh look at the agents who make up your team. Chances are, they span as many as five generations—each with different demands and levels of engagement.

This unique team dynamic presents customer service leaders with both challenges and opportunities. As Baby Boomers retire and Millennials take their place, leaders need to align their culture and professional development opportunities to attract, retain and engage this growing population—especially since Millennials are on pace to represent more than 50% of the global workforce by 2020, according to KPMG. The up-and-coming Generation Z workers embody similar characteristics that cannot be ignored. As these two groups quickly become more prominent in the workplace, it’s time for customers service leaders to reimagine training for the next generation of agents.

What Leaders Should Considergen z

Before customer service leaders can design new and effective training programs, it’s important to understand the key qualities and traits of Millennials and Gen Z. Unlike their predecessors, these agents don’t just want to work for a paycheck— they want a purpose. That means working for an organization with a mission and values that the identify with and support. Additionally, Millennial and Gen Z team members want to understand how their day-to-day work fits into the bigger picture before they invest attention and time to a specific task. In short, they want clear meaning.

Nowadays, many companies boast about a “fun” culture, complete with ping pong tables, coffee machines and unlimited snacks. Those might be nice perks, but more often, young, talented workers are pursuing employers that offer professional development. In fact, a study by Deloitte found that 53% of Millennials and 44% of Gen Z believe that on-the-job training and continuous development are the most important qualities of their job and employer.

In their quest for growth, Millennial and Gen Z workers also plan to change roles and employers on a more regular basis. While Millennials typically stay on the job for less than three years, Baby Boomers stay with the same employer for more than 20 years,
according to an article in Fortune. However, 73% of Millennials and Gen Zers would consider staying with the same employer for more than five years if
they provided ongoing training and education. With a heightened ability to network and connect online—and a desire to lead—it’s not surprising that Millennials quickly
become hungry for the next challenge. effect

Building an Effective Training Program

Enticing Millennial and Gen Z agents through the door of a new company is just the beginning—they must feel engaged. In fact, Gallup reports that only 29% of employed Millennials feel engaged at work. To ensure younger agents are motivated and engaged, customer service leaders need to design a training program that addresses their wants and needs. Here are four tips for building a training program for the next generation of workers.

1. Brevity is best. Trying to present lengthy paragraphs of information to generations who consume info in 280 characters (or less) won’t cut it. Instead, deliver job-specific knowledge in bite-sized pieces that have a clear meaning and purpose. A direct correlation between training content and an agent’s role will foster deeper engagement and more regular learning.

2. Goals are great. Millennial and Gen Z workers tend to disengage quickly if they feel stuck in a dead-end job. Managers can keep them motivated and engaged by providing a personalized development plan that clearly defines their career path. Research shows that both Millennials and Gen Z want to feel confident in themselves and their jobs, so outlining attainable goals to work towards promotes hard work and active skill development that is unique to each teammate.

3. Mentoring is a must. A training program fit for Millennials and Gen Z should also include intentional mentoring and coaching from their managers and other senior leaders. While both generations are project-oriented and prepared to run with what they’re given, they want constant feedback and coaching. A culture of coaching helps agents grow, and fosters healthy relationships between them and their managers. Introducing other mentorship opportunities early on also shows that their company is willing to invest time and effort in their development.

4. Online isn’t optional. As “always connected” generations, Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to adopt new technology than earlier generations. They’re used to having information at their fingertips, so access to on-demand knowledge is key for any modern training strategy. Online training programs are perfect for these tech-savvy generations—they’re already multi-taskers who are skilled at switching between different tasks and channels. Online training can also incorporate more engaging elements such as video and quizzes to improve the learning experience and increase
knowledge retention.gen z

Training Drives Retention and Productivity

Designing an effective training program that features online learning, mentoring and coaching, and opportunities for development is an investment in an empowered young workforce. While perfecting a training program that serves different generations is always a work in progress, it reaps plenty of benefits.

Engaged Millennial and Gen Z agents have a heightened degree of commitment and loyalty: They truly want to see their team and company succeed. This deep dedication results in increased productivity and lower risk of employee turnover—meaning morerevenue and less money invested in recruiting and training new employees. When companies make the effort to train new generations, the result is efficient, productive and loyal employees who will push the business onward to long-term success. CRM

Please join SOCAP and Lessonly during “Re-imagine: SOCAP’s 2018 Customer Care
Conference,” Oct. 21-24 in Salt Lake City, Utah, where they are an exhibitor. Learn more at https://reimaginecc.org.


RachelRachel Saltsgaver is the content manager at Lessonly, training software that helps customer service teams learn, practice and do better work. With a blend of both corporate and creative experience, Rachel writes regularly about call center training and support team best practices on Lessonly’s blog. Connect with Rachel and Lessonly at rachel@lessonly.com or on Twitter at @Lessonly.