Magazine article CRM Magazine

Gig Economy Has Contact Center Potential: Customer Communities Can Be a Fruitful Source of Freelance Customer Service Workers

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Gig Economy Has Contact Center Potential: Customer Communities Can Be a Fruitful Source of Freelance Customer Service Workers

Article excerpt

Noting that contact centers often struggle to deliver exceptional customer service while cutting costs, Forrester Research suggests that a gig economy labor model can help companies achieve both goals.

The gig economy can include people who have full-time jobs but pick up on-demand jobs on the side to earn extra income or those for whom on-demand jobs are the primary source of income. This labor market has been increasing dramatically since 1995, when just 7 percent of Americans worked freelance or part-time. By contrast, 35 percent did so last year, and these types of employees are expected to make up 43 percent of the population by 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Contact centers filling slots with these kinds of workers can tap into peer-to-peer communities to identify people who might be interested in taking on freelance customer service work, according to a recent Forrester report.

These communities, whether company-owned, such as Apple's Support Communities, or independent, such as FlyerTalk, consist of consumers who ask each other questions about companies' products or services. Many of these forums have identifiable experts who answer a lot of questions and do so very well.

"The big key here is that you're actually choosing people who are experts in the product or service you're offering, and that leads to numerous advantages in terms of customer service experience," says Ian Jacobs, a principal analyst at Forrester and primary author of the report.

Recruiting such experts for freelance work can yield three major benefits, the report says. Outside experts are viewed as more authentic, they have experiential understanding, and they have chosen the specific piece of work.

Contact center agents get paid the same no matter how many customer problems they solve. Gig economy experts, on the other hand, are only paid when they solve problems. …

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