Companies have been continuing to increase their interest and adoption of the gig model for their workforce. Like many things about remote working, the pandemic has accelerated this adoption. Now, a significant number of roles beyond agent jobs are embracing the gig model. The gig model in call centers has the potential of being a way to serve customers better.
In my CX Quick Tips Interview, I spoke with Kate Brouse on The New Gig For Contact Center Agents.
The rise of the Gig Model in contact centers has significant benefits for high-performing agents as they get to choose the companies to work for. They also get to choose their working times.
In this article, I talk about the points that Kate elaborated in our discussion. Here is what you need to know about the gig model in contact centers.
What Does “Gig” In Contact Center Agent Jobs Mean?
According to Stephanie Leffler, “the gig economy is a new composition of how people are making money and structuring their employment.”
A lot of people still only associate the term gig with music. However, the term gig has been used since 2009 as someone who chooses the hours they want to work.
It has increasingly been used in digital platforms and digital ways of communication and logging on. For many gig workers, they can use their devices to decide what company they want to work for and when.
For example, Uber and other foodservice delivery companies are all gig model workers. You choose when you want to work, and you do it at your own schedule.
And employee engagement is higher; 64% of gig workers say they are doing their preferred type of work. (Gallup)
How To Use The Gig Model In Contact Center Agent Jobs
According to (Intuit), 80% of large US companies plan to switch to a flexible workforce. When you hire gig workers, you hire someone who is already a brand ambassador but not just being paid yet.
John McAfee said, “a gig economy is empowerment. This new business model empowers individuals to shape their own destiny better and leverage their existing assets to their benefit.”
For companies, you can recruit and train people who already love your products or service. It’s like that in the gig model as well, you find those people who are passionate about working for your brand because it’s their choice.
Also, as you get agents who are experienced at what they do, you then can have them take your two to three calls, and you can escalate those and monetize them on a per-call basis.
As a result of the Gallup engagement research, you also find the attrition level in the gig economy tends to lower because you contract with somebody who has a higher skill set.
Contact Center Agent Jobs: Hiring and Sourcing
75% of executives cite the importance of gig workers in sourcing hard-to-find skills. (SAP Fieldglass)
There are many ways to leverage the Gig model for your contact center. You can even hire an outsourcer or hire your own.
There is an increasing number of outsourcers who are specializing in the gig model. Therefore, you can go to an outsourcer to remove learning curve failures; they can walk you through it.
For those who have in-house call centers, you might consider converting your already existing contact center staff. An easy way to start your gig model is to offer it up to the agents you have.
In my Fast Leader Show, I also interviewed Matt Beckwith, a contact center expert on operations and interactions. My interview with Kate reminded me of Matt saying he almost quit his contact center job because he felt bogged down by the things he didn’t like about the job. One of those things being the stiffness in the way of working.
But now, things have become more flexible in the contact center industry; the Gig Model is another example.
You can give your top agents the ability to choose what shift they want to work. You can have micro shifts available. The possibilities are numerous. The ability to be adaptive is key to your success. If you have a rigid, reserved, and control-minded organizational structure, the outsourcer route might be your best option.
Once you figure that out, you can manage your service level and understand what you might need to put in place if you want to have gig workers.
Conditions Necessary For The Gig Model To Flourish.
78% of gig workers say they are happier than those working traditional jobs, while 68% say they are healthier. (McKinsey)
To make this work, you probably don’t want to be running just a small contact center with 30 to 300 seats only. Be aware, this thinking is changing too.
The gig model works really well when your customers or clients expect you to be available 24/7, sometimes even globally.
This, therefore, expands your base to handle even the amount of calls and the volume of calls. Kate feels, if you are currently running a spreadsheet to schedule your staff, you probably don’t need a gig model. I think she was considering the size of the contact center when she mentioned this. As mentioned, this is evolving and your situation might be unique enough for it to work.
Your workforce management system is not always a determining factor in deciding to implement a gig model or not.
On the contrary, you can offer micro shifts to workers that would be wonderful for small contact centers. Who knows, this could be a starting point for you.
The size thing is opportunistic for some, but it may not be prohibitive either. Basically, there are all kinds of interactions. You have to figure out what works for you.
According to Small Business Stats and Facts, If the gig economy keeps growing at its current rate, more than 50% of the US workforce will participate in it by 2027.
Contact Center Agent Jobs: Working As A Gig
Some outsourcers only allow a gig worker to work on one contract at a time. Others allow their agents to train on many different contracts at the same time.
Therefore, an agent can answer calls for a retailer during the day and schedule doctors’ appointments at night.
The best way to be a gig worker is to really research what works for you.
Jason Hartman said, “flexible working conditions are just one of the perks afforded by the opportunistic gig economy.”
You Need Better Supervisors to Be Successful with Gig Workers
One of the most significant opportunities in the contact center industry is to improve the skills of your supervisors and frontline leaders. Adding gig workers to your workforce increases the need for higher supervisor skills. Retaining gig workers is more difficult than retaining remote or in-house agents. Only your best supervisors should supervise your gig workers.
As you percentage of gig workers increases, you need to increase the skill level of your entire supervisor staff.
Employee engagement and retention is a core element in the Call Center Coach Online Leadership Academy. Develop high-performing call center leaders takes time and effort, but the return is significant. As more high-performing agents have greater choices for employment, supervisor leadership development must be a key factor in your planning process.
The gig economy is less about service itself, even though it’s important. It’s more about the future of where we are going to find top talent.
It’s something to really consider because there’s an increasing demand for talent to choose their employers and working hours.
The book Free Agent Nation: The Future Of Working For Yourself is a must-read on this subject.
Watch My Interview With Kate Brouse
- What are the benefits of using gigs in contact centers?
- What are the advantages of being a gig worker?
- Are there any dangers associated with the gig model?
Jim Rembach is the Editor in Chief of the Customer Service Weekly and it’s Podcast host. He is President of CX Global Media and the creator of the Call Center Coach Virtual Leaders Academy. As the host of the Fast Leader Show Podcast, he has interviewed hundreds of experts, authors, academics, researchers, and practitioners on various angles, viewpoints, and perspectives for improving the customer experience. He has held positions in retail operations, contact centers, customer support, customer success, sales, and measured the customer experience. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, Employee Retention Specialist, and recipient of numerous industry awards.