The gig economy has transformed many industries globally. Nobody stands in the rain waiting for a taxi today, thanks to Uber, and I often stay in houses rather than hotel rooms when I travel thanks to Airbnb. But the gig economy, has only recently started making an impact in customer experience (CX). GigCX has been one of the most-discussed trends of 2020 – apart from the more obvious changes driven by Covid-19 – and the most recent guest on the CX Files podcast was completely focused on how his company is enabling GigCX for every company that wants to try it out.
Terry Rybolt is the Chief Revenue Officer of LiveXchange. The company is headquartered in Canada, but Terry is based in Boston, MA. LiveXchange has been around for close to two decades now and their current range of services includes a cloud-based virtual contact centre. In effect, all of the physical infrastructure in a traditional contact centre can be replaced by software – with all the agents based at home.
The agents are all gig workers, paid for each customer interaction, not for time spent on calls or time on a shift. Peter Ryan interviewed Terry on the most recent episode of CX Files and Terry explained some of the other differences between a traditional contact centre and a GigCX solution:
“LiveXchange positions itself as a platform, we are simply providing the software and systems to companies that want to run a contact centre – we are not in direct competition with the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies that typically run traditional contact centres. However, we do have a fully managed service where we can staff and run a contact centre for clients that don’t want to take on the management of the processes or people.”
Terry explained that GigCX is focused more on offering options to those managing their customer service in-house – it’s not an attempt to replace what the BPO companies are already doing. He repeated: “We are not a BPO. We’re a technology platform. In no way shape or form, are we trying to replace the BPOs or replace the in-house contact centers that are in place today. We’re simply here to say we can offer an on-demand virtual workforce that you can plug in whenever and wherever you need them. So it’s truly a compliment to the in-house and the BPOs. It’s not a competitor.”
This was an interesting point, because it sounds like Terry is focusing more on offering existing in-house or BPO solutions the added capacity and flexibility of gig resource – especially for seasonal problems like Black Friday. He explained: “Your core clients suffer because you have your entire onboarding force focused on recruiting these massive numbers of people for short periods of time. When what happens, you have high attrition, high absenteeism, and at the end of the day, there is no bottom line contribution being made to the organization. It’s truly a top-line revenue deal – you went through all this work and all these headaches for no real gain at the end. With a gig model, you can ramp up very quickly. The staff already exist so you don’t necessarily need to go and find them. BPOs can tap into that resource.”
Peter asked Terry about the new book focused on GigCX. I was also a co-author of this book, but I wasn’t involved in this interview so Terry explained: “The beauty of the book is to really talk about the benefits of GigCX. For example, agility and the ability to quickly scale. Transparency, where we’re not trying to control anything because we’re giving full control back to the client.” He added: “This is all part of the educational process.”
I’d certainly agree with Terry on that. There are many misconceptions and suspicions about the gig economy, not least that it forces wages and worker autonomy down. In the CX environment it is taking place quite differently and the role of a contact centre agent – which is typically not well paid or respected – is transforming into that of an expert.
Experts are looked after by the brands that appreciate how they are helping customers. They are not subjected to downward pressure on rates and boring, repetitive tasks. GigCX has very little in common with the gig companies that deliver your restaurant takeaway for example. I think it will be an important trend in 2021, but let me know what you think by leaving a comment on this article or feel free to get in touch via my LinkedIn.
- To hear the complete CX Files episode featuring Terry Rybolt please click here.
- To find more details about the book ‘Gig CX: Customer Service In The Twenty-First Century’ please click here.