Many are also seeing it as an alternative to making permanent appointments in a volatile and uncertain economy.
In fact, as the gig economy becomes more of an element in the Global Business Services (GBS) working world, the use of gig platforms (73%) — a shift away from fulltime 9-to-5 jobs (61%) and collaborative workspaces (55%) — will be the top trends impacting South Africa's gig economy within GBS going forward.
This is according to the South Africa National GBS Quantification & Investment Report.
Notably, GBS operators facing skills shortages will use gig workers to tap into different skills anywhere in the world (55%). But it also holds tremendous risk and the potential for reputational damage and lost business due to the disjoin that comes with managing and delivering CX — and all its many complex cultural and technical components — as a 'gig'.
In its essence, 'gig' work is an inherently solo pursuit. It has experienced individuals offering their skills and services on a temporary basis — and in many instances, such as in the case with contact centre agents, from far-flung locations across the globe.
Typically, gig economy workers want to be masters of their own time and the terms that they are willing to work on. For many businesses, these raise challenges in recruiting freelance workers who are reliable and fully committed to the task of delivering great CX — an inherently challenging and competitive field.
No one is disputing that with the click of a button and cloud technology, gig workers from all over the globe can meet, work and collaborate on a gig platform that would have been impossible a decade ago.
It may seem quite feasible to manage a handful of gig customer service pros to work on a temporary project or seasonal sales spike. However, it becomes an imminently more complex task when the demand is for 50 or a few hundred outsourced CX agents to handle peak season demands, at pace, at volume and high quality and compliance levels.
Consider the prospect of having to recruit, screen, onboard, train, manage and pay a few hundred gig workers across disparate geographies, cultures and time zones to take on your peak season sales. This is when the window of opportunity to get it right is razor slim, and the potential to get it horribly wrong is a gaping chasm.
Where and how do you even begin assessing whether there is the right culture fit for your business and customers in a gig CX scenario where everyone operates as an inherently individual solopreneur?
BPX: Making the gig workforce work for CX outsourcing
When it comes to your most treasured business asset — customer relationships — it simply isn't that simple to manage CX on a 'gig' basis.
Maintaining quality and consistency from a distance — and managing talent across multiple locations and time zones, cultures and operating environments, as well as compliance of engagements — can be massively
Pulling all that talent together in one concerted, focussed and highly managed effort, is a job best handled by CX outsourcing specialists with:
- solid BPO operations
- tech infrastructure
- management skills and quality, and
- compliance controls.
The solution lies in bringing the best of gig workforce flexibility together in a fully managed CX outsourcing solution — what iContact BPO refers to as BPX.
When building a BPX model for your business, there needs to be a strategy and roadmap that underpin how this process unfolds and how the stated objectives translate into operational excellence.
And it goes beyond the singular focus on human capital.
BPX is premised on three fundamentals:
- people, and
- customer experience.
It's about providing access to:
- better and newer technology
- process enhancements
- quality management
- workforce flexibility
- access to specialised people skills
- cost savings
- operational efficiencies
- multichannel customer service channels, and
- all the makings needed to deliver superior customer experiences.
That Gig CX agent is just one
factor in a complex and holistic CX outsourcing solution.
Navigating the complexities of outsourced CX through BPX
In making the decision to outsource CX, there are several serious challenges that every business needs to be aware of. These include:
Loss of control
Cultural and language differences
When CX is outsourced, the company may have less direct control over customer interactions. Managing a remote gig-based workforce in many locations is very different from managing a team of agents in a contact center.
BPX addresses this by establishing and maintaining consistent messaging, quality and brand representation through ongoing training and quality control measures at a centralised and expertly managed level. Your BPX team becomes an intrinsic part of your business and internal team.
Outsourcing, especially to offshore locations, can result in cultural and language barriers.
These differences may affect:
- understanding of customer needs, and
- the ability to deliver a personalised experience.
Cultural alignment with your outsourcing partner is at the heart of success — regardless of how effective your outsourcing strategy may be.
Cultural alignment transcends fluency in your company's language or familiarity with your local culture — the outsource partner should be seen as a natural extension of your workforce.
In other words, people your company would want to hire and work with.
Data security and privacy concerns
Customer interactions often involve sensitive information.
Outsourcing CX requires careful consideration of data security and privacy to ensure that customer information is handled responsibly and in compliance with relevant regulations.
This is virtually impossible in a GIG CX scenario where each individual is likely to operate on a 'bring your own device' (BYOD) basis. The potential for catastrophic cyber and information breaches is significant in such scenarios.
Integration with in-house systems and tech
Seamless integration of outsourced CX with in-house systems is essential. Challenges in integrating technologies and processes can result in inefficiencies and communication gaps.
A professional BPX partner will have agnostic technology integration that supports your CX objectives at its core.
Quality and regulatory compliance
Different countries have varying regulations regarding customer data, privacy and communication.
Ensuring that the outsourcing partner complies with all relevant regulations is crucial to avoid legal issues and reputational damage.
With a large pool of distributed gig workers, how do you maintain and monitor service quality and compliance using traditional metrics, oversight and performance management standards?
The EX in CX
Training and knowledge transfer
Ensuring that outsourced agents are adequately trained and have a deep understanding of the company's products, services and values is crucial
It is vital to have a solid understanding of the sophistication, experience and commitment of the management team that will be running your outsourced CX operations.
- Who are the people who will be providing the service and support?
- What is the level of training competence and quality assurance?
- What is the level of experience and commitment of the supervisory and operations teams?
Turnover and employee engagement
High turnover rates among outsourced customer service agents can be a challenge — and even more so among freelancers and gig workers.
Constantly changing agents can result in a lack of continuity, making it difficult to build strong customer-agent relationships. It is crucial to bring together your:
- customer value proposition, and
- role competencies.
This should be foundational to how your CX outsourcing partner:
- develops, and
- coaches high-performance CX agents.
BPX delivers a future-proof strategy that brings together the best of:
- the gig economy
- CX talent
- flexibility and scalability
- technology, and
- customer service delivery.
This is in a world that is increasingly experiencing more demand variability than stability. Agility, adaptiveness and responsiveness have never been more critical in an environment where the CX stakes are more competitive than ever.
For more information, visit www.icontactbpo.com
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. *Image courtesy of contributor