The term “GigCX” has been exciting members of the customer experience industry recently, and rightly so—any potential disruption to our industry deserves attention.
Unfortunately, the benefits of GigCX are getting all the press, to the point where some companies are pegging it as the industry’s inevitable future. All the while, its disadvantages remain safely hidden away behind this wall of hype.
Don’t get me wrong, GigCX has its place in our industry—which I’ll get into in a moment—but from our perspective, it’s certainly not a full-blown replacement to dedicated work-at-home teams, as some of the hype might suggest.
What is GigCX?
I suppose I should preface this piece with a quick primer on GigCX.
GigCX—aka crowd-sourced CX or on-demand CX—is a customer experience delivery model centered on paying freelance contractors for individual tasks, such as customer service tickets or technical support queries.
These contractors are approved by brands based on their existing knowledge of a product or service, so it’s like paying customers to help other customers.
It’s pretty easy to see the benefits of this model instantly: no full-time employment contracts, less supervisory responsibilities, lower costs, customers trust other customers, agents can supplement their income easily, and companies have immediate access to a larger pool of potential CX talent.
So what are the fallbacks?
Recruitment, Coaching, and Development—or Lack Thereof
GigCX workers are crowdsourced through partner networks using gig technology platforms, not through traditional recruitment channels. Contractors are approved to become GigCX workers based on their performance in online questionnaires or tests. If candidates pass these tests they gain access to the tools they need to begin working.
Customer experience is all about human interaction, which is why successful recruitment practices are centered on face-to-face conversations, either in person or over video. If brands are relying on people they’ve never met, how can they fully trust their ability to provide a good experience?
Then there’s coaching and career development. GigCX workers value their time, flexibility, and self-management, but they are highly likely to lose interest in their work because they have no one to guide them, mentor them, and help them grow.
GigCX workers may already have an affinity with a brand and knowledge of a product, but what happens when that affinity fades and there’s no one around to re-establish it? Without a continued focus on worker engagement, their CX delivery will inevitably suffer, leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
As we’ve seen, motivation is easy to maintain in a SmartVirtual™ work-from-home model, even improving productivity in a lot of cases. Technology allows us to deliver training effectively, and Ambassadors are more engaged with their virtual roles due to the benefits of a company community, an attractive work-life balance, and a real sense of value within their team.
Regulatory Hurdles Surrounding Contractors
In the United States, the entire gig economy could be under threat as regulators across a growing number of states are cracking down on businesses using contractors for extended assignments.
GigCX workers are not exempt from this crackdown.
For example, companies must take the ABC Test in some states to determine three factors when hiring gig workers. Firstly, the hiring entity must relinquish all control over the worker. Secondly, the worker cannot perform work that the business could do itself. And thirdly, the worker must be “customarily employed” in the same type of work that the employer does.
Brands that ignore these new rules as they emerge face serious issues.
Following the controversy behind various ride-share companies’ refusal to classify their workers as employees, these companies were able to avoid paying payroll taxes and employee benefits for years. The news hurt the brands’ reputations substantially, but they’re large enough to weather that storm. For smaller companies that intend to use GigCX as a tax loophole, a similar storm could be devastating, especially as more and more employees require security in times of crisis.
Glorified FAQ System
Several GigCX platforms operate by sending tickets to “approved” experts that either use their own knowledge or type their queries into an existing knowledge base provided by the company.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds to me like an online product forum with extra steps.
If you’ve ever used an FAQ or product forum before, you’ll know that these are often unreliable, over-complicated, or don’t tell the full story. If customers are interacting with GigCX workers with bare-bones knowledge from an already accessible knowledge base, why not direct them to the FAQs in the first place? You can then connect them with high-value customer experience agents if their questions remain unanswered.
In my opinion, increasing a customer’s time spent in chat or on the phone is the exact opposite of good CX.
GigCX and its Place in the Industry
GigCX has the potential to be highly disruptive for a lot of huge brands, but it’s certainly not an instant solution to every issue, as the hype might have you believe.
Huge online companies like Amazon and eBay have identified it as a strong element of their CX, mainly because they get several thousands of minor queries and customer issues each day—there simply isn’t enough people-power to cover every single issue quickly and effectively, unless they crowdsource CX.
For these companies, it makes sense to blend GigCX workers with dedicated agents who can deal with more complicated, higher-value tasks. When we’re talking about the average business, GigCX is not well-suited to anything that doesn’t already have thousands of existing customers who know the brand, who know its products, and—most importantly—want to work as a GigCX agent.
We’re excited to see where GigCX goes and how it impacts the industry over time, but, as you can see from this post, all that glitters is not gold. Like anything, we recommend doing your due diligence and testing out pilots before jumping headfirst onto the hype train.