It is no secret that Gig Customer Service, or GigCX, a term used for deploying gig-based people to provide customer service, is attracting quite a lot of attention. The 2020 Gig, Customer Service report makes an exciting read — it says that GigCX is being used by mainstream brands like National Express, Sage and Unilever. The report describes the range of activities that GigCX offers, from brand enthusiast crowd-sourced communities to far more transactional home-based, paid by the query models.
We search for a place to stay on Airbnb, flag a ride using Uber, or order lunch using a meal delivery service such as Careem Now, Talabat or EatEasy. We have become accustomed to having these services at our fingertips, so it will be surprising to think that the gig economy was almost unheard of five years ago. If you check Google Trends to see how likely people have searched for this term, someone first searched this term in July 2015. The business model is adopted by businesses around the world, particularly those in the tech sector.
As enterprises struggle with how to offer customer service around the clock while maintaining the same time-restricted service offerings, customers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the limited communication channels provided by the business. Customer Experience Magazine reported that 80 per cent of Brits have to contact call centres during working hours.
Offering exemplary customer service round-the-clock is no longer a nice-to-have in a world where customer service is a significant competitive differentiator (for instance, think about Amazon and Apple). To remain competitive, it’s a must-have for brands.
Traditional brick-and-mortar contact centres are ill-prepared to meet the demands of the “always-on”, digitally savvy customer due to rising costs and attrition, fluctuating demand patterns, and legacy technology challenges. Customer service models must be agile, flexing in line with demand and minimise fixed costs generated by traditional cost-per-head marketing.
Cost-effective, Real-time, and Quick
Gig economy businesses can benefit from this. Customer service models are changing. Digital marketplaces, in particular, provide people with new work opportunities and the freedom to make money on their terms. If you have a gig workforce, you have access to on-demand workers who are already fans of your brand, and if they’re interested in working for you, it’s likely they know something about your product/service. With a gig workforce spread around the world, you can cover customer requests at any time since the internet makes it easy. It’s important to remember that many people gig so they can work outside of traditional hours — something that will perfectly suit your CX function.
GigCX opens up even more possibilities. If already proficient, businesses can quickly train talent pools to competency. They’re often paid per task. Pay-per-task models can help companies drive out wastage associated with fixed-cost operating models while embedding agile, on-demand working models into their customer service operations.
Also, GigCX helps brands mitigate some of the common challenges facing customer service functions — scaling teams at speed, adapting to demand, reducing operational costs, providing 24/7 customer support and hiring talent aligned to company culture. According to Gartner’s Customer Experience Management Survey, more than two-thirds of CX leaders predicted budget increases in 2020, part of which were to be allocated to gig agents.
AI in GigCX
From Uber to Deliveroo, AI is at the core of many gig platforms. GigCX platforms can leverage AI to build advanced ratings and review mechanisms to drive quality and performance. It is possible to use AI to handle more low-value customer enquiries while customer service teams deal with more complex queries that may require empathy and personalisation. The AI-based routing also allows the customer service teams to focus on questions that need a human touch.
Through GigCX, AI also has a vital role in quality control and enhancing gig workers’ performance through reviews, ratings and reward mechanisms. AI can be used to intelligently route queries based on gig workers’ competency and skill levels.
It can also be used to build demand-based pricing, so workers get rewarded based on the amount of work they receive or even the complexity of the tasks. Moreover, AI can also aid gig workers by providing in-app suggestions and reviewing their responses for accuracy.
Gig workers can feed their “best” answers from their customer service duties back into the AI, which they can use to create standardised responses to similar questions.
Adding Value Throughout the Customer Lifecycle
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.
GigCX need not just be confined to the areas of customer support. The knowledge of your customers can be leveraged to impact other areas of the customer lifecycle, including customer acquisition and retention. For instance, 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.
For businesses, customers are the most significant asset. 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.