Why the Gig Economy and Customer Service Go Hand in Hand
As published on Customer Service Manager
Roger Beadle, CEO at Limitless explains why agile customer service models are needed and how businesses can take advantage of the gig economy to improve their customer experience.
Companies have a problem which their customers can solve, and I don‚Äôt just mean buying more of their products or subscribing to their services. Businesses are constantly struggling with how to make customer service available to their customers round the clock, yet are still maintaining the same time-restricted customer service offerings.
Meanwhile, customers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the limited communication channels that are provided by the business. Some recent research by Customer Experience Magazine indicated that 80% of Brits are having to contact call centres during their working hours.
In a world where customer service is a major competitive differentiator (think Amazon and Apple), delivering round-the-clock, exemplary service is no longer a nice-to-have. Rather, it has become a strategic must-have for brands in order to stay ahead of the curve.
With rising costs and attrition, fluctuating demand patterns, legacy tech and talent sourcing challenges, traditional brick-and-mortar contact centres are ill-prepared to meet these needs of the "always on" digital savvy, global customer. Agile customer service models are needed, ones which can flex in line with demand and minimise the fixed costs generated by traditional cost-per-head commercials.
Quick, authentic, agile and cost-competitive
This is where businesses can take advantage of the gig economy. Customer service models are changing, particularly with digital marketplaces providing new work opportunities and freedom for people to earn money on their own terms.
When it comes to customer experience, having a gig workforce means you can access on-demand workers who are existing fans of your brand, and if they're interested in working for you, it's most likely that they have some knowledge about your product/service.
But the real key is that, with a gig workforce spread around the world thanks to the internet, you can cover customer requests at any time of the day. Don't forget that a lot of people gig because they want to work outside of traditional times - something that will suit your CX function down to the ground.
The possibilities brought by GigCX (What is GigCX?) go further. Talent pools are easily scalable and businesses can quickly train them to competency if they have pre-existing expertise. They're often paid per task. This pay-per-resolved task model helps businesses drive out wastage otherwise associated with fixed cost operating models, while also embedding agile, on-demand working models within their customer service operations.
In practice, GigCX can help brands mitigate some of the common challenges faced by customer service functions today - scale teams at speed, flex in line with demand, reduce operational costs, provide 24/7 instantaneous support and source talent aligned to company culture.
Recent findings by Gartner's Customer Experience Management Survey showed that more than two-thirds of CX leaders are able to confidently predict budget increases in 2020, with a considerable proportion of this expected to be allocated to gig agents.
The role of AI in driving gig performance
AI underpins many gig platforms, from Uber to Deliveroo. GigCX platforms can leverage AI to build advanced rating and review mechanisms to deliver quality and drive gig user performance.
A great example of this is using AI to handle greater volumes of low-value customer enquiries, allowing the gig workers to focus on enquiries of greater complexity which might require empathy and personalisation. Using AI-based routing in this instance ensures that customer service teams can focus their time and effort on queries that really need the human touch.
With GigCX, AI also has an important role to fulfil in the form of quality control and maximising the gig workers' performance through review, rating and rewarding mechanisms. AI can help intelligent routing of queries to gig workers based on their competency and skill levels.
It can also aid in building demand-based pricing features, so workers get rewarded based on demand or even complexity of the tasks they receive. What is more, AI can even assist in helping gig workers answer faster through in-app suggestions, and also review their completed answers for accuracy.
There's a virtuous feedback cycle in play too, whereby the "best" answers from gig workers in the course of their CX duties are fed back to the AI, which can learn from these and formulate standardised optimal responses to similar queries. A classic case of AI driving the gig, and the gig driving the AI.
Helping drive value through the customer life cycle
There are a number of existing use cases where GigCX is bringing impactful change to modern-day customer service operations. For example, it is taking centre stage in businesses where customers have the tools to deal with product/service enquiries, provide technical support, or assist in refunds/cancellations.
However, GigCX need not just be confined to the areas of customer support. The knowledge and passion of your customers can be leveraged to make an impact on other areas of the customer lifecycle including customer acquisition and retention.
For example, car manufacturers could energise their pre-sales efforts by empowering existing customers to convince prospects to sign up for a test ride. Online marketplaces like eBay could tap into the knowledge of their power sellers to help retain new eBay sellers through personal coaching and guidance. Businesses could also use their customers to provide real-time insight on products/services which can, in turn, inform New Product Development plans.
Your customers are your biggest assets and through the power of the gig economy, brands can now bring their customers into the very heart of their business and reward them for providing on-demand service.
What better way to improve your customer experience than to use your own customers for driving it!
About the Author
Roger Beadle is the CEO and Co-founder at Limitless. Roger is a UK-based entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016.