Employees are only productive when they have their body in a seat, at a desk, in an office. This is probably one of the most outdated and destructive concepts in modern management and yet it has persisted right up until the forced period of work-from-home (WFH) activity because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
When managers were forced to try a new type of people management they found that it works. One of the largest companies in the world, Siemens, has now announced that they are completely reframing their global management strategy around this recent experience. Not only will they focus the activities of the entire company on permanent WFH, but they will also focus management attention on output and delivery – discarding the idea that more time at the desk must equal more productivity.
Siemens get it. The world has changed. People want more flexibility from their work. They want work that can fit around their own life. This might mean that they have caring responsibilities, or they are semi-retired and just want to work for a few hours each day. Every individual is different and companies must finally recognize this.
Globally there are millions of people employed in customer service roles. Most of them were sent home by their employer during the crisis. WFH was proven to work and customer service agents even became more productive at home – freed from long commutes and office interruptions. Most of these people don’t want to return to the office 100% of the time.
Research by 5th Talent in Canada on over 4,000 agents in 7 countries found that most agents appreciate the flexibility they get when working from home – in particular how their managers judge them more on what they achieve than on hours worked. It’s what you deliver, not who you know, that counts when everyone is working from home.
Blending a gig economy approach, that everyone knows from brands such as Uber and Airbnb, with customer experience (CX) leads to what analysts are now calling GigCX. This promises to create an entirely new type of CX that is better for the agents, better for the customers, and better for the company requiring a customer service team.
Why is GigCX so impressive? I’m going to explain everything at a high level in my next four blog posts. I will focus on four key areas where I believe managers with a customer service responsibility need to appreciate the value of GigCX.
- Cost: compare the cost of a chauffeur driven car taking you anywhere you want to go with the Uber app on your phone. Do you really need to pay huge upfront costs for a vehicle and then ongoing fixed costs for the car and driver or would you prefer to just pay for a car service when you need to use it? Why isn’t CX like this? Why don’t companies just pay for agent utilization when the agents are actually working for them? By only paying for productive agent time it’s possible to dramatically reduce your total customer service cost, but also to improve the reward to agents by paying them for delivery – not just a fixed amount for an 8-hour shift.
- Agility: GigCX allows customer service operations to easily manage business seasonality without the need for panic or stress. Black Friday strikes fear into the heart of many retailers because it’s difficult to expand contact center operations temporarily. A GigCX approach makes this simple – and the ramp down is also simple.
- Flexibility: modern customer service must be resilient. You need to mitigate risk by delivering service from multiple locations, away from a single office, preferably across several geographic regions – or even countries. Building this flexible resilience is simple to organize with a GigCX solution. The equivalent solution with a Business Process Outsourcer (BPO) would require a network of contact centers in multiple countries.
- Transparency: take control over your customer service processes. If you can directly manage a virtual contact center in the cloud with your remote agents all plugging into the service as and when needed, then why outsource these processes to a customer service provider or BPO? Everything you need can be delivered in a single, simple platform. You can take back control.
As the management of Siemens observed, managing a remote distributed workforce is very different to the processes used to manage a team inside an office. The team member spending longest at their desk is not necessarily the most productive, and may even be the least productive. Covid-19 was like shock therapy for many companies because they realized that they can be more productive by giving their employees the flexibility to work from home without managing their hours.
Modern management measures output – not hours at the desk – and GigCX adopts these principles completely. Clients working with GigCX agents only pay for productive customer engagement – nothing else. No contact centers, and no shifts where the agents are idle.
I’m on a mission to inform every customer service executive globally that GigCX has arrived. GigCX can offer dramatic improvements to your CX strategy by improving cost, agility, flexibility, and transparency. Over my next four blogs I’ll drill further into each point in turn.