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By: Roger Beadle – CEO, Limitless
In the technology adoption lifecycle popularized in Crossing the Chasm, even Geoffrey A. Moore would have to agree that Gig Customer Service (GigCX) has long since stopped being the domain of just innovators and early adopters, with the early majority arriving faster than anyone imagined. It’s here to stay, and GigCX is scaling fast, in both volume and scope.
Since the beginning of the year, we’ve been speaking to a number of CX leaders across the US, UK and Europe as we’ve compiled our 2021 GigCX report, while also conducting research amongst our GigCX brand experts. The top trends we’ve identified here are certainly not an exhaustive list of what’s new in this dynamic customer service experience resource, but we think they illustrate the power of human connection in business at its best.
The pandemic has really illustrated the depth of the flexibility of GigCX in order to meet fluctuation in demand levels, and as we spoke to CX leaders, time and time again they flagged the virtues of flexibility, accessibility and availability. COVID perhaps accelerated it, but speed of movement has really made companies realize the art of the possible. It has also shown companies the most important thing is having access to the expertise — with our survey revealing it to be the biggest priority for the majority of CX leaders over quality and cost.
For many companies, the decision to implement GigCX did not start with customers that needed an address change or help with billing or with other repetitive things. It was for customers that required empathy. During the pandemic in particular, we’ve seen just how much empathy matters in a customer experience situation, where Experts may be speaking to people who have experienced life changing circumstances. Empathy matters more now than ever in a time where connectedness is so important.
Simply put, people, more often than not, want advice and answers from people who have hands-on experience. People who have been loyal customers, and who have used products and services for years. Of course, there are some great customer service agents working in traditional settings, but they have to work hard to generate that intimacy and knowledge without the benefit of product and brand advocacy.
Our experts agreed that traditional customer service KPIs surrounding quality and cost were still crucial, but there are new KPIs being introduced as companies look to establish new customer journeys.
In Customer Lifetime Value, what really counts is the personal connection and relationship on offer. After all, determining customer lifetime value is all about estimating an entire future relationship with a customer — ‘relationship’ being the
Customer Success is another new KPI, but not as you know it. It now means redesigning the CX journey so that customers see value at every step. It’s about proactively engaging with the customer before they need help, and making that engagement opportunity continual, so that it doesn’t just happen when it’s time to submit a customer service query.
Most people assume that the ability to make money is the top benefit and reward for any service, but if you ask a GigCX Expert what they really value, flexibility is bound to top the list.
As our research found, the GigCX crowd working time preferences span the entire 24-hour period, indicating that the standard 9-5 day is unfavorable to many. COVID is also playing a role here: our survey of Experts revealed that 97% believed COVID has driven the need for more organizations to allow for work from home models and that flexibility with working times is the biggest benefit of GigCX.
Having a ‘portfolio career’ with multiple sources of income has been turbocharged by COVID where even the most reluctant people have realized the importance of spreading their financial risk over multiple sources of income — 96% of our experts believed it is now more critical than ever.
What our research has found is that GigCX is an excellent way to tap into highly skilled people who want to work more flexibly and would love the extra income to supplement their expendable income and give them peace of mind.
A more specific trend in the digital shift we’ve observed over the past year which is also driving demand for GigCX is the area of asynchronous messaging. 40% of our CX leaders said they saw an increase in customer service demand coming for async messaging tools, with many citing the flexibility they may be able to provide for GigCX Experts themselves — which is conducive for a higher quality conversation.
For all the bad that it’s done, COVID has actually forced a wave of digital transformation and companies have been forced to explore innovation that there’s no way they would have done otherwise. However, there’s also an acceleration of planned digital transformation, where companies that already had, for example, a sort of three-year vision of where they wanted to go, and this is now being accelerated. GigCX is definitely part of this in many instances.
People are also looking at customer service and contact centres very differently now, and they are expecting digital experiences because they have become more digitally savvy.
From online marketplace seller setup questions, to subscription customer service queries, to like-minded peers putting their heads together to deliver honest answers surrounding products and services, it’s safe to say that our CX experts found that GigCX is becoming an integral mainstream customer experience resource pool faster than we ever thought possible.
By connecting customers with other customers whether pre- or post-purchase, GigCX can clearly leverage this trend by allowing customers to communicate with people they trust more than the standard faceless brand. By making it clear they are talking with another customer who has first-hand knowledge of the brand but is not employed directly by the brand, GigCX Experts are inspiring peer-to-peer, community-based trust.
Until recent years, people operating within the gig economy have always been separated from standard employment regulations. However, the dramatic rise of gig over the last few years, driven by changing worker and customer profile and expectations, has rightfully brought the treatment of gig workers under the microscope both from the customers being served by the gig workers and the governments responsible for protecting them.
This has driven a demand from national governments to promote the idea of
‘GoodGig’ practices and the protection of those active in the sector, from exploitation and circumvention of labor laws. California and the UK have already offered greater clarity on regulations in relation to gig in the form of ‘Prop 22’ and the UK’s Supreme Court Ruling in March 2021 which has propelled change in the way gig-based companies manage their workers with other Governmental bodies considering similar regulations themselves.
For companies that can no longer tolerate stagnating customer service quality and rising costs, need to address increasing complexity, volatile demand, increased attrition, and the need for diversity, GigCX is emerging as a viable option.
GigCX is also helping mental health and helping people with new skills. The GigCX Expert survey revealed that 85% feel that GigCX has helped improve their mental wellbeing, 76% felt that GigCX has introduced them to new skills that will help them in their career such as communication, problem solving, and time management, and 86% believing that GigCX is seen more positively compared to other gig providers.
One of our experts pointed out that with COVID, driving a new work from home culture and that security may no longer be the issue companies originally made it out to be: “If you were speaking to prospects in 2019, one of the issues with GigCX may have been data security, and companies being wary about customer information going into people’s homes. In 2020, everyone in CX began working from home — including all traditional contact center employees – and they are clearly proving that you can have a disparate network of Experts that not only meets performance objectives, but surpasses them.”
Beyond these trends, what was also fascinating were the descriptors the leaders and GigCX Experts used in describing GigCX and the evolving human connection we’re seeing today. ‘Enjoyability’, ‘enthusiasm’, and ‘grace’ were words heard throughout the conversations with CX leaders who’d deployed or been involved in some way with GigCX.
If you’d like to learn more about our expert’s experiences with GigCX, as well as the untapped potential of this dynamic channel, please download a copy of this year’s report.
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact center industry, Beadle co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition, and access to new talent.
Limitless is a gig customer service (GigCX) platform, helping businesses connect with their most engaged customers and reward them for providing on demand customer service to help address their biggest customer service challenges. Learn More at: limitlesstech.com
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