This paper surveys the benefits derived thus far from gig work. Crucially, it points to how improved platforms can help surmount the problems in the original gig model by offering a vision of how companies and workers can excel in the new era of remote work—Gig 2.0. In so doing, it also highlights how the right outsourcing partners can help enterprises realize these benefits.
Gig 2.0, as the moniker implies, delivers improvements to this model. Based on improved software, the gig model can be more fully applied to CX. In so doing, gig work can expand beyond local markets to provide global solutions. This promises customer service in an array of languages, round-the-clock customer service, and the classic benefit of offshore service delivery: cost savings that are derived from wage arbitrage.
Enterprises seeking CX solutions can more easily tap into the gig workforce. Contact centers can design a staffing mix that “leverages gig to augment in-house and outsourced teams,” explains Michael Cole, co-founder of Agents Only, a gig platform for CX professionals. In this respect, many enterprises see gig agents as a way to fill in gaps within their existing customer service workforce.
Naturally, gig teams can address seasonal and short-notice volume spikes. “Q4 spikes in e-commerce and retail are common,” says Cole, “but addressing this by simply overstaffing to cover these volume peaks and tails is a costly misallocation of resources.” Gig teams allow enterprises to meet volume spikes without overspending, he points out.All this adds up to a business horizon where gig CX can step in and fill short-term demands without draining operational expenditures. Instead of being forced into hasty decisions of AI or sacrificing tech priorities to satisfy short-term volume peaks, enterprises can utilize gig workers to meet rising contact volumes, accommodate spikes in contacts, and preserve their budgetary priorities.
At the forefront of Gig 2.0 is Canada-based Agents Only. In mid-2022, the firm launched a software platform that is tailored toward gig workers in customer service. The Agents Only platform connects call center operators, both in-house and 3rd party enterprises, with a dispersed team of freelance agents across the United States, Philippines, Canada and Mexico. (Already it has regulatory approval and pre-screened candidates to expand into Colombia, India and Greece.)
Rather than large upfront commitments, Agents Only offers clients and agents flexible scheduling. Agent shifts are scheduled in 30-minute segments, an approach that avoids perennial problems in customer service, such as front-line worker fatigue and understaffing or overstaffing.
First and foremost, agents like the platform because the transparency it offers takes the guesswork out of their salaries. They know on an hourly basis how much they are making, and they receive pay daily through a secure wallet. They can also be their own boss, taking time off when they wish, working from any number of countries, or studying how to improve customer service.
By vesting agents with these tools, Agents Only has managed to attract highly skilled and experienced agents. As of mid-2023, more than 80% of the firm’s agents boasted five-plus years of experience in customer support. They speak English and Spanish in scalable volumes, and a growing number also speak French. Moreover, attrition is virtually nil because of the flexibility bestowed with half-hour shifts, the quality-of-life benefits that come along with improved workplace transparency, and the experience of the agents. To date, Agent Only campaigns typically record attrition of less than 1%
From the agent side of the portal, workers view a dashboard that quickly orients them to jobs on offer, noting base pay (indexed to the prevailing wages in the home market) as well as premium tiers for overtime, short-notice jobs, and bonus tiers for excellence in handling calls. The client side of the portal offers easy monitoring and changes. Enterprise clients enjoy full control of the number of agents they want, when they want to schedule them, and how their work is invoiced.
So, unlike earlier platforms that offered gig CX with limited oversight of agents and control of performance once a campaign was underway, the Agents Only platform vests clients with complete control. Clients can launch projects of any size on-demand, monitoring and incentivizing agents from start to finish. Through these functions, the Agent Only platform enables clients to design their own contact center as a service. “Traditional BPOs and captives will use their core team to monitor the progress of the gig staff,” says Tyler Ashby, COO at Agents Only.
The net result is a workforce augmentation tool that constantly calibrates the right number of agents based on contact volumes, saving money while delivering world-class CX results. In one case, a pizza chain saved a million work hours in 2022, lowering its expenses by nearly $5.5 million, simply by shifting pre-scheduled agents to the contact-demand meet agent-supply system offered through Agents Only.6 A hotel client boosted conversion rates by 50%, while a fast-growing startup managed to accurately track high double-digit annual growth, despite gyrations, through Agents Only.
Gig 2.0 resolves a host of challenges laid bare during the first era of gig work. It does so through a seamless solution that optimizes headcounts while enabling skilled talent to work when they want—for the wage they deserve. And, while this trend is still in its early days, specialists have already taken the lead by pointing the way to the future. With more than 13 million contacts in 2022, Agents Only has emerged as a partner that maximizes the benefits of gig work with unprecedented transparency.
Ryan Strategic Advisory offers market intelligence, strategies for brand growth, and practical information to assist organizations operating within the customer experience services sector. With 20 years of expertise, Ryan Strategic Advisory assists outsourcing firms, technology suppliers, industry groups, and agencies focused on economic development.
Download the report to find out the new era of gig work complements the underlying shift in labor markets, and how Agents Only is pioneering Gig 2.0