As events in the past year has shown, the need to rapidly adapt has broken conventional silos that have long been the backdrop for the customer service industry. What is desperately needed is a step-change in customer service. This is where a gig customer experience, also known as ‘GigCX’ comes into play. GigCX is the term used for the pool of gig expert talent, mainly made up of the brand’s own expert customers or fans, that can provide on-demand customer service. But how can this model meet the new demands of today’s digital consumer?
Coping with complexity
The pandemic has catapulted us into a world where digital is central to every interaction. A world in which agile ways of working are a prerequisite to meeting daily changes to customer behaviour. Products and services are becoming much more complex, are interoperable with other products, and regularly enhanced with entirely new features. Just think about today’s operating systems silently reporting impending performance issues, triggering a remote fix before the user even realises there may be a problem. Modern products are indeed advanced, but not all products can have this level of autonomy – especially if they’re locally downloaded rather than cloud-based. Even the ones that do are likely to encounter inevitable glitches. When this happens, or if you simply need a personal ‘how to’ guide, you’ll want a friendly face at the other end who knows the product well.
Although the traditional contact centre works for many brands who have relatively straightforward queries it can often struggle with more complex ones. Someone equipped with merely a script, and who isn’t passionate about the brand they serve, may lead to a disconnect between an agent and customer. A study from PwC found that 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions. In today’s competitive market, CX teams need to provide that ‘wow’ factor to ensure customer loyalty, so having a lack of detailed product knowledge isn’t going to hit the mark.
To help solve some of these issues, the GigCX model enables customers to speak directly with a product expert, who is available anywhere in the world, at any time. Providing that ‘wow’ factor – both in their conviction and passion for a brand is natural as they are brand advocates and customers of the product or service themselves. Having previous experience immediately ensures they have the knowledge and are highly motivated to answer intricate questions for the brands they know and love, leading to a more empathetic experience for the customer. With 71% of customers saying that businesses who show empathy during a customer service experience will earn their loyalty – a GigCX expert may be the answer to many customers’ prayers.
Over the years, customer service has been viewed less as a touchpoint to enhance customer relationships and instead as a cost centre. While most are now convinced by the bigger picture, it cannot be denied that some forms of CX come with a hefty price tag. The traditional contact centre, for example, can be extremely expensive to operate with staffing variabilities around time to become productive, unused occupancy, attrition costs and building costs being the highest contributors.
At the other end of the spectrum, brands are adopting automation, namely AI chatbots to reduce overall costs and increase agility. Yet what many brands tend to forget is that AI should be considered aids for the customer journey, as opposed to a replacement technology that only serves to alienate a customer. Data from CGS even revealed that 86% of consumers prefer humans agents to chatbots. Of course, when we consider how both context and understanding are essential for a genuine and useful exchange, it’s no wonder that automation can come at the mercy of customer satisfaction. Today, customers are no longer swayed by loyalty discounts or special offers alone but want to feel heard by customer service teams who are empathetic with their responses – something that only a human rather than a virtual agent can offer.
Considering the critical role customer service plays as a most vulnerable touchpoint, businesses can no longer afford to not invest in human-centred experiences, relationships, and ultimately lifetime value. Yet what is needed is to find that delicate balance between offering exceptional CX at a reasonable price. Looking at the GigCX model, can this offer the best of both worlds?
GigCX experts work on an on-demand basis from their homes, or anywhere, for that matter. Therefore the model benefits from a dramatic reduction of cost-to-serve by removing the need for the physical brick-and-mortar buildings and virtual bricks-and-mortar brought on by fixed resourcing models. Not only does this mean the GigCX model operates at a significantly reduced cost per head, but these economic savings can then be then reinvested in their people. It’s a win-win situation after all.
According to a recent survey by SuperOffice, 88% of customers expect a response from a business within an hour. While this may seem straightforward enough, a sudden influx of inquiries could easily come out of the blue. Think about when the first lockdown was announced, online retailers had to suddenly grapple with a flood of customer enquiries. In spite of this, research from Salesforce has revealed that 59% of customers say that the pandemic has raised their standards for customer service. Peak or no peak – customers now expect to be served as and when is convenient for them.
When considering the traditional customer service models that are available – such as the contact centre – volatile demand is often a logistical nightmare. Restricted by a fixed recourse model, including a fixed headcount and rigid timed schedules, a sudden peak can often prove a difficult task. To avoid customers left waiting (impatiently) to be spoken to, companies need to adopt a different kind of service – one that empowers the customer by offering the flexibility they now expect.
GigCX agents, who operate on a 24/7 basis can provide customers with this level of autonomy and freedom as they will work when they want, within the boundaries of when the brand needs extra help. So since the crowd of experts grows and shrinks in line with supply and demand, brands can enjoy enormous resilience in the case of an unexpected event. But most importantly, this means the customer is always put first. Today, brands should be waiting for the customer, long gone are the days of it being the other way round.