Vivian Gomes, Chief Marketing Officer at Movate.
The future of work arrived yesterday.
Even before the global pandemic disrupted set models of work, work as we know it had been quietly shifting. And nothing has highlighted that shift more than the rapid emergence of the gig economy.
The gig economy is not new. It has been here for a while—longer than you may imagine—because the word “gig” was first coined by jazz musicians back in the early 1900s. But the modern gig economy really took off with the growth of internet-backed platforms that facilitated easy access to gig work. Being hyper-connected with the growth of social networks has fueled new technology-enabled ways of working. And the key word for me is “technology.”
Gartner predicts that gig work will make up about 35% to 40% of the workforce by 2025.
So, while gig work is not new, what has changed is that technology-enabled organizations are now using gig platforms at scale to reach a large talent base across the globe. Now, many organizations are focusing on building a maximally adaptive workforce: one that is flexible and agile. As the chief marketing officer at a company that provides on-demand workforce augmentation, I saw many companies and departments in the CX space embrace the gig workforce during the pandemic when the limitations of a traditional contact center environment were brought to the fore. I believe gig support models have gained popularity for their flexibility and scalability.
Yet, traditional gig support models present certain challenges of their own.
Businesses have to significantly invest in training their gig workforce to meet their quality standards. But that training is often limited to providing competence in handling their customers well, not necessarily creating experts who know their business products or services. The result is sometimes poor CX.
Add to this the challenges of availability, the onboarding of gig talent, and IT security concerns, and the traditional gig support model begins to creak at the hinges.
Rebuilding The Gig Customer Experience Ecosystem
As we go forward, I believe organizations will realize more and more that gig engagements shouldn’t be random: They should be part of the long-term strategy and be cohesive, agile and integrated. I am talking about rebuilding the entire gig customer experience ecosystem—one that has the flexibility to manage surges in demand, achieves tangible cost savings, ensures enterprise privacy and security, is agile in deployment, and offers a deeper and more empathetic experience to customers.
And one of the ways we can do that is by creating a gig-enabled support model that complements full-time agents with gig experts (people with domain and product experience) while leveraging technology solutions that drive higher efficiency and automation through the resolution process. When you do this, the possibilities are immense. Think of the gaming industry, for example. I’ve found that gaming is often affected by disruptions in demand, especially during the holiday season, which causes a surge in customer requests. To manage these surges and fluctuations, companies should develop an on-demand, gig-enabled support model that not only scales up and down effortlessly but also delivers empathetic customer support along with traditional support.
The model should bring gig experts’ native skills and real-life knowledge of the product to the problem the customer is facing. Gig experts should not just be skilled workers but also the actual product or service end users. With this model, companies could drastically reduce their training requirements.
The gig-enabled support model can not only transform the customer experience but also enable organizations to bring down their operating costs by leveraging a pay-per-resolution approach. The idea is to create a consumption-based model for the organizations and charge them only for resolutions.
Impressive as those potential benefits are, there’s more. I have also always believed in building a personal level of service. People connect to the experience a brand offers, and they connect to its humanity. An on-demand, gig-enabled support model could provide exactly that personalized human connection because it provides a struggling customer with contextual and relevant advice.
Building A Successful On-Demand Support System
To start off, clearly map out the processes against the resource type for efficient routing. Gig-based peer experts are best for product-specific queries. Account-specific requests that require access to the CRM can go to traditional support teams. As your gig ecosystem matures, the balance may shift from traditional to on-demand support.
Where you source your gig talent from can sometimes be a deal breaker for your support quality. Though there are several gig portals available today, they do not necessarily all do thorough background checks that can ensure you work with high-quality talent. You can leverage your product alpha users or community forums to source gig peer experts. It is easy to identify such product practitioners through digital channels, and they can be quickly assessed at the hiring stage to ensure faster onboarding of skilled gig talent with minimal or no training. Also, you can incentivize your gig workforce to perform well. For instance, you could provide workers with high CSAT scores and peer reviews with financial rewards.
I believe another key to success is technology. Consider how you can leverage automation in processes like onboarding, QA and payments to help you integrate your gig workers into traditional models. Think about how to use technology to make it easier to blend the gig ecosystem with traditional delivery models to achieve the stability of the traditional model with the scalability of gig.
Convert Your Best Customers Into Brand Ambassadors
It’s the human connection that drives me to believe that this is not just the future of work but the tomorrow of customer experience. When you use your best customers to provide support to other customers and deliver exceptional service, you are also building brand ambassadors.
Traditionally, customer service has always been seen as a cost center. But with this model, I think it’s time to see customer service as a value-adding center. The time is ripe for faster adoption of empathetic, expert-driven gig support. Are you tapping into it?