I have published another book! This is the third book I have written with Terry Rybolt and Brian Pritchard since 2020. Our first one explored the simple question ‘What is GigCX?’ Then we developed the discussion further by exploring the developing role of gig workers in CX. Now we have just released ‘GigCX: The Benefits Of A Flexible Workforce.’
What’s the new angle?
I think that in the first book we were really just defining GigCX. How do you take traditional contact centre processes and blend them with the gig economy so that instead of having an army of agents sitting in a contact centre all paid by the hour, you have a virtual group of people all working from home, choosing their own hours, choosing which brands to service, and getting paid each time they help a customer.
Gartner said that GigCX went mainstream in 2021. However, it’s difficult to always believe in analyst predictions and statements. At the end of 2020, Gartner published their predictions for technology and CX in 2021 and they suggested that by 2025, 75% of customer service issues would be handled by freelance agents.
Despite GigCX becoming a mainstream subject for discussion in CX and BPO circles, I don’t think anyone inside the industry is claiming that three-quarters of all customer service issues are handled by freelance, or GigCX, agents.
Our second book addressed the general fear of the gig economy. The way Gartner presented their numbers made many business process outsourcing (BPO) executives fear that the gig economy was about to take over. We wrote ‘Don’t Fear The Gig Worker’ to answer some of these doubts and uncertainties.
The way the gig economy has been blending with CX is extremely interesting. I personally don’t like to see worker rights being eroded. I see the food delivery riders working really hard out on the streets and getting paid as little as possible by the apps they service. I personally always try to tip the rider at least 20% of the cost of my food when I order from one of these services.
But GigCX isn’t about creating precarious work where the rates are constantly forced down. The focus is on finding people who actively want to work more flexible hours and would never really want to work long shifts in a contact centre. If you love gaming then wouldn’t it be a great idea to earn cash working flexible hours helping other gamers?
This is how the GigCX model is evolving. Find people who relate to the brands that need to be supported. This reduces the onboarding cost. This reduces the cost of attrition – because they are working for brands they are already interested in so they will churn much less. Add in the option to work from home, when you choose, and this is a whole new type of customer service role.
The new book explores GigCX in the context of how work itself is changing. The Covid pandemic forced many companies to send all their office-based employees home. People started adapting to a more flexible way of working that didn’t always require a solid 8-hour shift from 9am. Why not take a 3-hour break in the middle of the day if you work a little later?
People got used to this flexibility and as the pandemic restrictions receded it wasn’t just hard to get people back into the office, it was hard to get people to accept that they would be in trouble if they were not at their desk by 9am. Some commentators are now calling Generation Z lazy, simply because they want to change the accepted culture of an employer and employee relationship, but I think the criticism is misguided.
When a job is focused on output then why is it still paid by the hour? When employees put in extra effort each day why don’t they see any extra payment in their standard monthly salary? So many traditional conditions of work culture have needed questioning for such a long time – the pandemic just provided a catalyst for younger workers to say they want something different.
Look at the contrast between a traditional customer service job and the potential that GigCX offers. Commuting to a contact centre, long fixed shifts, hourly pay that barely exceeds the legal minimum wage, no choice over which company you are supporting, no real career guidance or culture of advancement – since when have these jobs been aspirational?
GigCX offers people the opportunity to choose which brands they work with, where and when they work, and they get paid each time they help a customer. If you know about the products being supported then you can start racking up much more than any traditional hourly-paid job. It’s common for some GigCX agents to just work 15-20 hours a week because they earn what they would get from a traditional full-time job. Some will fit those hours around another job.
GigCX doesn’t work for everyone. Some people want and need the security of knowing what they will be paid each month and banks are still very traditional about lending – so you need a good track record in work like this to be able to prove your income.
However, for anyone who is interested in working with brands they love and is good at communicating with other people, this is a completely new type of customer service role where you get to be seen by everyone as an expert – an administrator. Not just an agent.
AI is rapidly improving and answering so many more customer enquiries. How long can companies designing customer service solutions keep paying the people that need to be experts something close to minimum wage?
Work itself is changing and in the CX environment GigCX is a very good example of how people are not just quitting jobs to work in another hourly-paid job in a different cubicle. They want a new opportunity, a chance to be properly rewarded for using the skills they have.