Sometimes I wonder if Gig CX is the right name for the kind of flexibility that we see when applying the gig economy to customer service processes. The gig economy is generally seen as a very flexible way to design and manage labor, but most of the time this is seen negatively because risk is pushed from the organization to the individual gig worker.
Ridesharing is a classic example. If it’s a quiet night then a driver has no guarantee of any income, so a lot of gig work is seen as precarious and lower value than a traditional Monday to Friday job.
But there is a bigger picture. First, we are sometimes not even comparing apples with apples. Most regular taxi drivers earn more when they are busier – they get more fares and tips so that’s only logical. It’s not only an effect of the gig economy.
Second, there are many individuals who don’t even want a Monday to Friday job. It is the workers themselves that want more flexibility. They are not being exploited, they are matching the hours they want to work to when companies need them. For the customer service roles that the LiveXchange platform manages, companies offer available hours in 30-min chunks and people can select which ones they want to work.
Some people hate the idea of working different hours each week, but there are now many people who want their work to match up to other commitments in their life – they don’t want to feel bad about leaving the office at 4pm on Tuesday because they need to attend an event at their kid’s school.
In many ways this demands a kind of mindset change. We need to think less about the hours worked and more about what is actually delivered. In some industries this has been normal for years. Look at journalism. Sure, there are some who get a monthly salary, but most journalists these days are paid for what they produce, not how many hours they spend sitting at a desk searching for inspiration.
A book published last year really goes into this mindset change in a lot more detail than I can here. It’s called Gig Mindset and is written by Paul Estes.
Paul’s book looks at the gig economy from the perspective of both the companies that are exploring how to work with more gig workers in a way that is positive for both. What Paul is saying is that we may need to revise how jobs work and even how our own life is organized.
If individuals start expecting their work to be organized around tasks and deliverables then where does that leave the companies still offering a 40-hour week and the same pay each month? Americans are already leaving jobs in their millions because they are not flexible enough – often driven by the flexibility needed for childcare.
The gig mindset could be a large part of the answer. Forget the 8-hour shift and start focusing on what people do and what they can deliver. Gig CX is already changing how customer service processes can be delivered, but this mindset change needs to go further if the expectations of workers and employers are going to match up in the 2020s.