I’ve been a movie buff all my life, ever since my Mum took me to our local cinema to see Disney’s ‘Cinderella’ when I was 5.  I loved it.  (I thought they were real people on the screen).  When I was a teenager, my Dad used to take me to Dublin’s Art House Cinema to see legendary movies by all the greats: Fellini, Visconti, Antonioni, Truffaut, Godard, and Bergman.

I’m still a movie buff; the thing is, I haven’t been to the cinema in ages.  The last few times, there were about 10 other people there. And remember video shops?  Or the apocryphal tales about the CEO of Blockbuster refusing to pay $50m for Netflix, which he saw as “very small niche business” …

I can’t see my local Odeon still being there in 5 years’ time.  They don’t even go as far-out as Woody Allen movies, let alone films with subtitles.  End result: my needs as a film fan are not being catered for.  So I’ve gone with the flow … streaming.  Box sets and original series on Netflix, Amazon and All 4 – with the occasional movie thrown in.  I’m finally a happy bunny (sort of); I don’t even look at the cinema listings any more.

How is all this relevant to the Contact Centre industry (or any industry, for that matter) ?

So, what has any of these ramblings got to do with the contact centre industry?  Despite all the warnings from every quarter, most centres I’ve been in over the past few years (with two honourable exceptions) are not ready for the millennials – let alone Generation Z – and their marked preference for non-voice channels.

And that’s before we even start considering Generation Z people as employees … if you’re not fully omni-channel, they’re going to think they’ve wandered into a museum exhibit.  My friend and colleague Julie McCann published a piece here a few weeks ago, written by her 17-year old daughter Elysia.  Here are a few excerpts from Elysia’s article:

“For most companies, the idea of having to adapt their managing styles and environment to prepare for the ever-growing influx of Generation Z employees is a daunting idea, considering most have just gotten used to the Millennials.

Generation Z is anyone from the age of seven to twenty-one, meaning that the older half of this generation, myself included, are just starting to enter the business world. Currently in the States, just over 25% of the workforce is made up of people from this generation and that’s estimated to reach a third in just three years’ time (2020). Research has found a number of qualities prevalent in the majority of Generation Z, from things like their ‘addictions’ to technology to their increased importance being placed on privacy.

The stereotype of this generation constantly being on some sort of device is closer to the truth than most would like to admit, with many teens placing it in the same category as air and water importance-wise.

At first this seems ridiculous; however, this could be turned into a huge economical advantage for businesses across the world.  In 2015, the CMO Survey asked marketers how they show the impact of social media on their business; only 15% cited they have been able to prove the impact quantitatively, proving that most companies are missing the mark when it comes to the new technologies. Surely managers should be using the wave of the Gen Zs?  I am suggesting that instead of criticising the amount of time this generation spends on their devices – surely we should be directing their know-how in a more productive manner.”

What?  Take advice from a 17-year old, who hasn’t even got a job??!!

Well, there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth.  (Elysia, my apologies).  While hindsight is always 20/20, I think it’s a fair question to ask: is your contact centre (in-house or outsourced) Generation Z-ready, both in terms of customers and employees?  Or to ask it another way, will you be the next Blockbuster, or the next Netflix?

And finally, what will happen to all those derelict multiplexes in five years’ time?  They seemed like a great idea … 30 years ago.

You can read the whole of Julie and Elysia’s article by clicking here.