How to manage millennial contact centre agents' performance


By 2020, millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But do you have a strategy in place for their unique performance needs?

You can't ignore millennial contact center agents, nor can you treat them differently based on whatever stereotypes you may have heard. In this article, we offer three techniques on how to properly motivate and manage millennials in the contact center environment.

Technique 1: Use the best technology you can

Millennials consider "technology use" the defining characteristic of their generation, according to a Nielsen study. Having grown up in the years of major technological advancement, your younger staff members will have not only an affinity for better systems, but a preference for them.

  • Key takeaway: If you're managing a large number of millennial staff, consider updating your systems to better optimize their contact center lives. Try linking their daily workforce management platform with a mobile app like Call Design's ME Mobile so they can check in on the go, on whatever device suits them.

Technique 2: Invest time in personalized coaching and development

Millennials want to be upskilled - to develop their careers, advance in the ranks and earn a better wage. A report on millennials by PwC found that "opportunities for career progression" was the top-most attractive trait of a potential employer, followed by competitive pay and training/development programs.

  • Key takeaway: Performance management can be a highly effective tool for motivating and managing millennial employees. Set your Gen Y agents clear goals and offer them coaching to help reach these, then evaluate their performance so they can upskill, achieve promotions and earn more money.

Technique 3: Offer two-way, clear communication

Numerous call center leaders agree that millennials prefer it when communication channels are open, encouraged, and work both ways. Backing this up, Deloitte's 2017 millennial survey also found that senior millennials rank "communication" as a more important skill than analytics, sales, business knowledge and even academic skills.

  • Key takeaway: You need to talk to your Gen Y agents. If you think other managers aren't effective at this, run communications training programs, and release communication policies that help staff young and old understand when and how they can talk to each other. Note, though, that PwC also found millennials prefer electronic comms over face-to-face, so ensure your new policy allows for a variety of mediums.

With these three techniques, you'll make great strides to better engaging your millennial staff. If you'd like assistance with improving your contact center's technology or implementing performance management plans, Call Design can help. Get in touch with us today to talk to one of our expert consultants.

How to manage sudden absence in an Australian contact centre

Absenteeism costs Australian businesses approximately $578 per employee, per day of absence. This statistic comes from the Australian Industry Group's Absenteeism & Presenteeism Survey Report 2015, which highlights the fact that you absolutely cannot ignore absenteeism within your contact centre business.

However, Australian office leaders aren't stuck dealing with the costs if they know how to prevent absenteeism, and have an action plan to minimise it. So how is a contact centre manager supposed to prevent and manage sudden staff absences?

Make sure staff schedules are updated with sick or annual leave as soon as you become aware of it.

1. Update schedules immediately

Make sure staff schedules are updated with sick or annual leave as soon as you become aware of it. This will help provide everyone with a better insight into the impact that the absence is likely to have, enabling you to optimise breaks, meetings or other activities during the day so that your customers' experience is impacted as little as possible.

If the absence isn't entered until later, other activities might be approved that shouldn't be.

2. Try to understand and empathise

If sudden absence is due to a negative event like illness or bereavement, HR firm KGA recommends that office managers begin all conversations about the required time off with "I'm sorry you're going through this." Managers should then offer their assistance or, at the very least, their ear.

While this won't necessarily help on the day of a sudden absence, it could prevent absenteeism in the future. Forbes explains that a lack of staff motivation can cause absenteeism. And motivation is linked to job satisfaction, which in turn is linked to empathy. The Center for Creative Leadership found in a study that there's a positive relationship between manager empathy and staff job satisfaction levels.

3. Deploy smarter, faster tools

Intelligent workforce management solutions can make a huge difference when office managers are trying to cope with sudden staff losses. Call Center Helper - the worlds's leading contact centre magazine - says that a major cause of agent call avoidance, which often leads to staff absence and attrition, is getting routed calls at the wrong times. For example, a 30-minute troubleshooting call five minutes before the end of a shift.

However, integrating an effective scheduling system like Aspect WFM into your centre will give you greater oversight on staff workloads so you can better manage long-duration call types in the future. Additionally, schedules that can be viewed and modified in real time can help you balance the workload between agents should someone suddenly become absent.

Australian call centre leaders can prevent absenteeism with better scheduling.

4. Offer easier shift-swapping

Call Center Helper also recommends allowing shift swapping between agents to reduce absenteeism. Managers might feel like they need to intricately control shifts and schedules, but in actual fact, most agents will be more than willing - and capable - of swapping between themselves in order to meet the needs of both their personal and work lives.

This is another area where contact centre management software is important. A tool like Aspect WFM or the Call Design ME app allows agents to quickly and easily request leave or swap shifts, without the need for the often slow process of manager intervention

5. Education

Ensure you educate staff on the "The Power of One". The purpose of these sessions is to help staff understand why their attendance and adherence is important.

If you're interested in optimising your workforce with better software or training, contact Call Design today to see what our consultants can do for you.

6 technology trends coming to future Australian contact centres


The future is coming, if it's not here already. Artificial intelligence is everywhere, EY says Generation Z is proving unforgiving of service or technical failures, and Australian contact centres are left scrambling to keep up.

Technology is changing in the local contact centre industry, and we predict that these will be the tech trends to face our industry in 2018 and beyond:

1. Bots supplanting human interaction

Already bots are taking over contact centres, and will likely continue to do so. One example of this is banking group Swedbank's Nuance Nina, an AI-driven virtual assistant that delivers human-like conversational customer service. The bank says Nuance Nina has helped it improve the customer experience, including a 78 per cent first-contact resolution within the initial three months and a hit rate of eight out of ten questions answered.

In the future, if a customer were to contact a call centre with a known problem, an intelligent bot would automatically search through its database for resolutions. In this scenario, the call would only escalate to a human agent if the bot could not resolve the issue alone.

Although it might seem that bots are taking human jobs, it presents an opportunity for contact centre agents to upskill - to become specialists in their field. Common questions will no longer clog the chat lines, meaning agent-customer interactions are faster and more pleasant for everyone involved.

Artificial intelligence is expected to continue improving the call routing process.

2. Improved call routing

On a similar note, artificial intelligence is expected to continue improving the call routing process. IVR menuing has had its day - in the future, we can expect the classic dial tone interaction to be further replaced by voice recognition, as can be found in some Australian contact centres already.

But voice recognition is not the only routing area being improved by AI. Increasingly, contact centres will be able to use text analytics to scan email and chat enquiries for certain keywords or phrases, and automatically direct that customer to the appropriate answer. This AI could also assist chat-bots designed to replace low-level interactions as discussed above.

However it's unlikely that AI will entirely replace humans. Studies have shown that Australians still prefer speaking with a human over a robot.

3. More remote staff

More and more Australians are choosing to work from home, or calling for the option. Currently, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that about a third of employed persons regularly work from home. Additionally, PwC recommends that Australian employers set their millennials free - offering flexible working arrangements to suit the younger generation's varied, connected lifestyles.

Thus, workforce management software that can handle remote workers will be essential in the coming years. This software will need to connect all the data a contact centre needs in real time, as well as offer mobile app options for agents on the move.

4. Biometrics overtaking security questions

Security questions have been a useful tool so far, but it's still too easy for some fraudsters to learn the answers and steal customers' identities. In the coming years, most contact centres in Australia will replace security questions with biometric analysis.

One such technology is voice printing, where a customer's voice pattern is stored in a data base to be used like a security question's answer. Every time that customer interacts with a contact centre, special software checks their voice against the stored version to automatically match the two and verify the customer's ID.

Generation Z has a low tolerance for technical failures and agents not knowing the answer to their questions.

5. Advanced WFO software streamlining business

Considering the low tolerance Generation Z will have for technical failures and, according to EY, agents not having the answers to their questions, Australian contact centres will need to optimise their processes with better software.

With the right tools, contact centre agents will be able to access real-time data relevant to their customers, and office managers could have advanced demand forecasting and workforce scheduling available to ensure the right number of staff are available, any time of year. Advanced WFO tools, such those offered by Call Design, also come built-in with mobile app and cloud support, helping connect workers no matter where they are.

6. Internet of Things talking to contact centres

As we can see with products like Google Home and Nest, the Internet of Things (IoT) is connecting customer's devices, and these devices may soon connect to you as well. IoT-enabled devices are capable of monitoring and storing information about themselves and their user, and can be programmed to detect when there's an issue. Should that issue require support from a contact centre, devices could reach out by themselves to troubleshoot.

This directly links with the idea of chat-bots taking low-level enquiries. If, say, a faulty thermostat reached out to a centre for assistance, an AI could find an appropriate resolution, automatically send that to the thermostat and fix the issue - humans need not be involved.

If you'd like to learn more about optimising your workforce with advanced software, get in touch with Australia's leading WFO consultants at Call Design today.

3 contact centre strategies to adopt for Generation Z customers

Not concerned with Generation Z customers? You should be. Born between 1998 and 2016 (note that sources differ somewhat on the range,) they make up 26% of the US population, says Neilsen, and now that many of them are entering adulthood, the chances of your agents encountering Gen Z customers is high.

So how should a contact centre improve itself to accommodate this 21st century generation? These strategies will help:

1. Focus on immediacy

Gen Z is famously known for its short attention span, so immediacy should be a component of your new contact centre strategy. Agents must be able to deliver fast results if they are to keep these young people engaged, focusing on efficiency and trying to avoid elongated chit-chat, transferring between departments or anything that might delay the conversation.

Immediacy also extends beyond your agents and how they handle customers. Omnichannel communication is more important than ever for tech-savvy young people. McCrindle explains that Gen Z are the most technologically saturated generation ever. To keep up, your centre must embrace social media channels, live chat and other instant avenues of communication.

Young people are not as forgiving of ignorance as older generations.

2. Invest in agent-facing information

Young people are not as forgiving of ignorance as older generations. This is from a study commissioned by eGain that found key pain points of Gen Z to be contact centre agents not knowing the answer to a question, or providing a different answer to another agent.

"The only viable solution to this challenge is smarter knowledge that can guide [agents] quickly and accurately to answers and through processes," said eGain's CEO, Ashu Roy.

Consider investing in workforce optimisation in the new year. By streamlining your processes with the right call centre management software, you'll be providing your agents with the real-time information they need, quickly and efficiently.

Young people value immediacy and efficiency, and tolerate delays less than older generations.Young people value immediacy and efficiency, and tolerate delays less than older generations.

3. Build loyalty, don't ask for it

It's proving much harder to gain the loyalty of Generation Z than generations that came before. EY studied Gen Z and reported that they appreciate relationships built on mutual respect - where agents develop trust, rather than ask for it. Young people also want to be a part of the solution, making it important that each contact centre agent focuses on giving their customers a personalised experience over a scripted one.

If all of this sounds hard, it's because it is. But you're not alone. Call Design is a leading contact centre WFO consultancies, and can help shape your business for Generation Z and whatever else the future holds. To learn more, get in touch with us today.

Recent “WannaCry” Ransomware Attacks & Call Design

In regards to recent reports of ‘one of the largest cyberattacks of its kind’ that impacted healthcare and communications systems in over 100 countries bringing many essential business to a halt, Call Design’s Executive Director and CIO, Mr Peter Salmon has provided some background about what Call Design do to protect our own and our customer’s information.

Call Design has invested significantly in technology and processes proactively to reduce the likelihood of these sorts of attacks impacting ourselves or our customers. We are not immune from these sorts of attacks but we are very vigilant and constantly review our measures to reduce the likelihood of an attack and to have tested measures in place to recover from an attack should it occur.

Call Design and our customers consider details of our network, systems, access and protective measures to be confidential on a need to know basis, they are not widely known to our staff, our partners or we hope the perpetrators of these crimes.

Perimeter Protection

Call Design uses best of breed firewalls at the perimeter of all of our systems to protect network entry and egress points. Individual Servers are similarly protected. Call Design email is filtered and tested for virus and malware before being presented to our Exchange Mail server(s).

Hosted systems are segmented from each other and from our backbone networks completely and treated with the respect that we treat maintenance access to customer systems.

Direct data connections are made through Secure FTP servers configured to lock out attempts to compromise access or via dedicated VPN circuits or FTP with defined end points only being allowed with lockout protection.

Systems, Servers, appliances

Call Design has processes in place to maintain system Software versions with regular patching to maintain system integrity and a focus on updates that address security and known vulnerabilities. We have measures in place to ensure that this is a continued priority.

Call Design systems are almost completely virtualized across multiple sites where possible as well as in data centers. Servers, appliances, databases etc. are backed up and stored off-site with regular scheduled and unscheduled restores performed to ensure the integrity of back-ups.

Laptop, Desktop Workstations

All of our devices are equipped with up to date validated version of appropriate antivirus software and as appropriate malware protection. Business files are automatically backed up to Call Design servers and all of these facilities are managed centrally with alerting in place to detect failures.

Customer System Access

Access to customer systems is to the requirements stipulated by individual customers, documented and managed and further supported by Call Design systems and practices. As with Call Design systems, staff assigned to account support and provided with access under customer management and access is removed in consultation with customers that own those systems.

Call Design System Access

Access to Call Design systems is centrally managed and based on Active Directory with controlled access to resources including systems and files requiring management approval. This access is in line with Board policies and employee job roles and responsibilities in all cases.

Where a customer system has been suspected of being compromised, no connection is made until we have assurances in writing that their systems have been made safe. Following this, we have a process to ensure that our connection with their system cannot impact Call design or other Customer systems. This is carefully facilitated under Call Design management and service center practices.

Processes and Practices

Employees receive initial and ongoing information about Call Design requirement for the use of Call Design and customer information and practices and we formally acknowledge board policies and practices and agree to adopt them in their roles at all times.

The Call Design Service Center has many process and practices in place that very specifically reflect the immense responsibility we have to keep our customer systems safe.

This includes some specific technology as well as practices that involve manual validation of laptop health on each use at the start of each shift including full anti-virus scans with the latest signatures before being allowed to perform Service or Helpdesk operations. Device with suspected issues are removed from networks until cleared for use by management.

Constant Vigilance

Call Design has not been directly impacted by last weekends or similar attacks and has not been responsible for impacting our customer’s systems.

That doesn’t mean that we are complacent, companies with much larger budgets and staff than ours have been compromised. However, we have adopted systems, practices and behaviors to minimize the risks and have things in place to recover from an attack should we be compromised.

This is not an exhaustive list of measures that we adopt to protect us and our customers from Cyber Attacks but should give you some confidence that we are serious in our desire to protect ours and our customer’s businesses at all times.

Peter Salmon
Executive Director/CIO
Call Design

Worldwide Debut of Aspect Via

iSelect, Call Design, and Aspect are excited and proud to announce the worldwide debut of Aspect Via. Yesterday afternoon (28 March 2017 at 1:11pm AEDT) iSelect agents received the first production phone calls onto the new Via platform. The plan now is to ramp up the traffic over the next few months to completely replace the existing legacy platform and to take advantage of some of the unique features of the Via platform to help iSelect continue to be a world leading customer focused organisation.


‘iSelect agents just prior to going live’

About Aspect Via

Aspect Via™ is the only Customer Engagement Centre that rallies the entire enterprise in service of the customer by eliminating barriers that divide departments and fragment work flows. It includes Native Interaction Management (IM), Workforce Optimisation (WFO) and Self-Service capabilities, along with a common user interface (UI) for configuration and administration and shared real-time and historical reporting, comprise a SaaS offering tailor made for the cloud, running in the AWS environment.

For more information on Via  visit



Call Design announces a new relationship with BOS

BOS Global Holdings, A public company listed on the AIM Stock exchange in London, has this week announced its intention to make a significant investment in Call Design, a propriety limited company in Australia. Call Design Managing Director (APAC) Sean Mather believes this is a very exciting announcement for both companies and enhances Call Design's capability in the optimization space by providing a truly enterprise wide workplace automation and productivity suite.

While discussing the new relationship with BOS, Call Design Chairman Peter Salmon said “Call Design is very excited by the opportunities that this brings not only to Call Design, but most especially to our current and potential new customers, and we look forward to sharing more information over the coming weeks and months as this develops”

Call Design has recently been expanding its capability into the enterprise through implementations of back office and retail centric solutions. Mather went on to say “the BOS press release describes the synergy between our two companies and how their hosted products in conjunction with our products and services can really address customer problems. This is a very exciting opportunity for both companies to grow our joint business very significantly". He also went on to say " it is important to note that there is no change in the day to day management of Call Design”

Call Design and BOS have cemented this relationship through an investment by both companies in each other.