GigCX: How the gig economy can transform your customer service

The term 'gig economy' was coined during the financial crash of the late noughties as the unemployed turned to part-time and freelance jobs to make ends meet.

GigCX: How the gig economy can transform your customer service

The term ‘gig economy’ was coined during the financial crash of the late noughties as the unemployed turned to part-time and freelance jobs to make ends meet. The business model was welcomed by many businesses around the world, particularly those in the tech sector, and with the rapid rise in popularity of companies such as Uber and Deliveroo, the concept has become an understood and accepted form of modern employment.

Across the customer service industry, gig workers are becoming more commonplace. When managed correctly, GigCX offers a world of potential for customer service: its agile and on-demand offering allows businesses to use expert support at peak times without the high overhead costs of retaining additional staff, and supports those looking for flexible employment and extra income. By 2025, I estimate that 20% of customer service will come under the umbrella of GigCX ‘ a transformation which is likely to only have been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. 

How can GigCX improve customer service?

GigCX works by sourcing customer support agents from AI-driven platforms to perform tasks on a cost-per-serve basis. Businesses can easily employ additional GigCX agents when needed, allowing firms to maintain responsive, high-quality customer service during peak periods. In turn, this improves customer satisfaction and retention: a decade of research from Accenture found that 80% of customers wouldn’t have shifted loyalties if the issue was resolved on first contact and with fewer delays. Successful absorption of spikes in demand is seen in the case of National Express railways, who deployed GigCX workers to provide vital customer support when enquiries increased by 400% after a week of heavy snow.

Using a tech-enabled, on-demand GigCX platform allows businesses to scale up when needed and without wasting resource. This makes it significantly cheaper than traditional customer service: all work is done remotely, minimising overhead costs, and workers are only employed for short periods when they can be used most productively.  In some cases, successful GigCX models have been found to reduce the cost-to-serve of customer service issues by 50%.

The ready availability of gig workers supports full-time agents and overall can benefit employee wellbeing. It’s no secret that customer service is a highly stressful job: over 70% of  call centre agents are at risk of burnout, and across America, customer service turnover sits between 30% and 45% – more than double the average for other sectors. Leveraging the support of GigCX workers can reduce pressure on full-time staff, paying dividends long term with improved engagement and motivation. 

Reclaiming the gig economy

In recent years, the wider gig economy has been at the centre of a legal battle debating whether gig workers should be classed as employees. The most high-profile cases have been seen in California, with Uber and Lyft threatening to suspend services after a new law was introduced requiring companies to classify drivers as employees and provide them with a minimum wage and benefits. Unions supporting gig workers have organised to fight for better wages and working conditions.

To move forward, we cannot view all gig work in this light. GigCX offers a positive step towards reclaiming the sector, with an accessible model that offers well-paid and flexible employment. For the sector to thrive, businesses need to consider the wellbeing of their GigCX workers. Limitless has pioneered a ‘GoodGig‘ model designed to protect GigCX workers, based on three pillars: fair rewards, the flexibility to operate on your own terms without penalty, and protection through localised gig-compliant terms and conditions. These practices positively impact the experiences of gig workers, and by extension the businesses and customers they support. We must encourage companies globally to adopt similar measures when deploying GigCX.

GigCX also fights the misconception that the gig economy is built on low-skilled labour through the increasing options and variety of work platforms can provide. GigCX workers are more likely to have a genuine interest in the products and services they support, making them well-placed to navigate customer enquiries. 96% of workers surveyed by Limitless believe customer experience is improved when support is provided by a service user who has first-hand experience of the business, and 60% of CX leaders stated their top reason for leveraging a gig pool as the need to source talent aligned to company values and culture. Gig worker advocacy and passion for your business can drive consumer-to-consumer engagement, building transparency, trust and authenticity with your customers.

GigCX and coronavirus 

The coronavirus pandemic has seen many sectors facing massive disruption, dealing with an increased number of customer queries whilst navigating the transition to home working. Harvard Business Review found companies dealing with more than double the number of customer service calls scored ‘difficult’ over a two-week period at the start of March. Unable to cope, some businesses faced criticism for their customer service response, such as budget airline Ryanair which left consumers in limbo for months awaiting flight refunds.

Leveraging the power of GigCX can help with business continuity during a time of crisis. The on-demand availability of additional agents offers a lifeline for many businesses during the pandemic. When faced with stress and disruption, customers are often looking for a human touch; with human interactions limited due to coronavirus, this connection is more important for businesses than ever.

A study by McKinsey found since the coronavirus outbreak, people globally face lower levels of income, savings, and spending ‘ placing them under additional pressure. The report notes the challenge for businesses to balance customer support with preserving long-term shareholder value. GigCX can help to maintain this balance by adding a personal level of service compatible with a home working setup, ensuring your customers can get the support they need.

When deployed correctly, GigCX can allow businesses to reduce costs whilst increasing customer satisfaction and engagement. The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in customer service, and gig offerings have been at the forefront of this growth ‘ a trend that is only set to continue. We must look to the gig economy to understand what the future of customer service looks like and ensure the wellbeing of GigCX workers remains a priority for the sector to thrive.

Aileen Allkins
Aileen Allkins

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