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The Future of Work: Preparing New Zealand’s Contact Centres

What does the future of work look like for New Zealand’s contact centres? Following on from Chandler Macleod and CCiNZ’s industry event with Labour MP, Jacinda Ardern, our very own Fiona Tolich reflects on what was discussed and how employers can prepare for the future.

22 Jun 2017 By Fiona Tolich

The Future of Work: Preparing New Zealand’s Contact Centres

What does the future hold for New Zealand contact centres? That was a question that Chandler Macleod and the Contact Centre Institute of New Zealand (CCiNZ) set out to answer last Friday (16th June) at our industry event with Labour MP and Deputy Leader, Jacinda Ardern.

New Zealand’s contact centres are facing a pivotal crossroads that could shape what the future for the industry could look like. The frightening pace that technology is adapting and a new generation of tech-savvy youngsters steadily reaching the working age are causing jobs to change or disappear entirely. The way leaders react to these changes could either set the industry up for success or failure. Read on for a recap of what was discussed at last week’s industry event, and how New Zealand contact centres can react to the trends we’re seeing today to better prepare themselves for the future.

Why Labour MP, Jacinda Ardern?

After I heard Jacinda Ardern present at a corporate mothers networking event, I knew there was no better person to “headline” our event with CCiNZ. Jacinda is incredibly passionate about youth employability and is focused on the future of work. Her own career experience is an epitome of what our industry is facing. From the youngest sitting MP in 2008 to Deputy Leader nine years’ later, both the Labour Party and Jacinda took a chance that paid off.

What’s Changing for New Zealand’s Contact Centres?

During her presentation, Jacinda highlighted that the frenetic speed of technological change is changing the future of work. Our recent whitepaper and first-ever New Zealand contact centre benchmarking report, also confirmed this after it revealed that nearly half of contact centres think that their current software is not up to scratch and want to heavily invest in new technology.

The problem is that as businesses respond to these changes, a large portion of jobs will change or subsequently disappear. As technology brings new jobs to market, companies will alter what skills and experience they look for when recruiting people for the future. However, most people haven’t managed to acquire those crucial skills or experience yet. So, this approach will in turn leave the most vulnerable in the job market, the unskilled, young or people with skills that have since become redundant, in serious jeopardy.

What Can be Done?

Right now, there is a chance for Contact Centre Managers to be leading the future proofing of their industry. By the time we reach the ‘future of work’, having a skilled, adaptable and resilient workforce will be crucial. The problems of today will not be the same problems of tomorrow, but service will still need to be at the forefront. When you consider what skills and experience your contact centre will need to stay ahead of the curve, think about how you’re going to apply that to the workforce you have today.

Education will play a huge role in preparing your workers for what comes next. Professional development will need to become a core component of work – a ‘learning for life’ approach. As the need for learning grows, candidates with the ability to accept and embrace change, as well as thrive from it, will become highly sought after in the market.

The next priority will be keeping workforce retention high. Our New Zealand Contact Centre Benchmarking Whitepaper found that 87% of contact centres conduct employee engagement surveys annually, proving it is already a top concern for employers. However, as your workforce becomes more skilled, they’ll have far greater options available to them. To keep people within your business, providing a great work/life balance and additional perks, such as gym memberships or generous paid leave allowances, may end up being the norm, and not just a benefit.

In some cases, high employee engagement won’t be enough to keep your top performers around if they feel they have nowhere else to go. With that in mind, clear career paths and secondment programmes will become another top priority. The point of difference here however, is that having these systems in place might not be enough. Many people have often seen contact centres as a stepping stone to other departments and roles, so it’s important that your workforce is well informed of these career development opportunities and what they could mean for them.

What Does This Look Like?

Often organisations will have a list of work experience and skills they’re looking for but, if the future is a blank canvas of innovation, then employers need to broaden that scope and look for those ‘ideas people’. These people might not have expertise, but they have life experience, emotional intelligence and creativity. There are many ways to see these outside of a CV without impacting the overall recruitment process, such as an assessment centre where you can see this evidenced right in front of you.

To drive your business towards the future, you will need to hire people who can bring a fresh approach and new ideas to the table whilst maintaining a solid balance in the team with expertise. I love the saying “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”, but in this instance, it isn’t correct. If you always do what you’ve always done, you could lose customers and set your business back.

I experienced this myself recently when I used webchat for the first time. The option was there, I used it and it resulted in a big purchase for me. I couldn’t find what I was looking for and if the option to use webchat wasn’t there, I would have given up. Our whitepaper showed that only a quarter of New Zealand contact centres currently use webchat but nearly half want to invest in new technology. So, it’s not a matter of if this change will happen, but when.

Following on from the discussion at last week’s event, a few thought-provoking leaders shared what they’re doing to prepare for the future. In one case, a company had partnered with community social development organisation, Lifewise, to provide pathways to employment for the most vulnerable of people. It’s programmes like this that will help to create a sustainable workforce and fulfilling employment for everyone, regardless of what the future has in store.


The world of work is rapidly changing but there’s still plenty you can do today to get ahead. Finding the people with the right traits to embrace change and drive innovation will be critical to creating an adaptable and resilient workforce with the future in mind. On top of that, fostering a ‘learning for life’ approach within your contact centre can also open it up as a fantastic talent pool of skilled and engaged professionals for the rest of your business.

Finding the right people requires having the tools to measure these traits, such as psychometric assessments. With that in mind, it’s worth noting that whether you’re looking for a highly skilled candidate or people with the right soft skills so your business is ready for what may come next, it’ll pay dividends to connect with an experienced recruitment partner.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article. If you’d like a copy of our first-ever New Zealand Contact Centre Benchmarking Whitepaper or to find out how Chandler Macleod can help your recruiting needs, get in touch with me today.
Fiona Tolich

Fiona Tolich

Sales and Service Manager

Fiona has worked in the recruitment industry since 2005, starting her career in a generalist recruitment role and quickly progressing into senior leadership and project management positions. With a particular interest in project recruitment, Fiona has been engaged by large organisations ... Read More