Co-authored by:Ashwin Anand Padmanabhan
COVID-19 has disrupted the status quo for most businesses across industries worldwide and forced them to think different and innovate key functions of their CX (customer experience) strategy. Investments in digital and a focus on next-gen technologies for areas such as CRM , digital marketing, and contact centers to facilitate seamless experiences for customers has been core to the enterprise turnaround strategy. Contact centers have had to face a double whammy - engaging more with remote customers and ensuring seamless, continued service with a diversified agent workforce who were working remotely across the globe. With customer experience emerging as the true differentiator in the pandemic, ensuring trained, skilled, motivated agents to handle the interactions is more important than ever.
Introduction to Gig Services
Temporary workers, freelancers, contractual workers, and project-based workers engaged in specific projects or activities are all examples of gig workers. Gig workers are usually employed by businesses for short-term assignments and paid on a contractual basis (hourly or per day). Typically, gig workers are those who prefer to stay out of routine, out of long work hours, but still want to leverage their best skills by engaging themselves in gig activities. This gig economy helps them constantly change their daily work routine and keeps them busy with a broad set of activities which is otherwise difficult to achieve.
Why are Gig Workers Important for Contact Centers?
There have been many unprecedented frequent socio-economic situations across the globe in recent years, ranging from global recessions to pandemics, and weather aberrations such as wildfires and snow storms to name a few. In each of these situations, we saw that the customers were getting restless and wanted to speak to their banking, telecom, energy, or healthcare partners to get specific information, or answer questions pertaining to eligibility, coverage, billing etc. for mostly re-assurance. Such enquiries are not yearlong and are mostly seasonal or situation driven, hence do not necessitate additional agent deployment. Though digital assistants such as chatbots can self-serve most of these use cases, they cannot give the same trust and warmth that a human can give. Few examples of such simplistic conversations that we all do with the agents are: -
Customer - “When will my electricity connection be restored?”
Gig Agent (Looks up information based on Zip code) - “At 6 PM sir.”
Customer - “Where is the nearest Covid-19 vaccination center?”
Gig Agent - (Looks up information based on Zip code) “124, Brookfield Avenue.”
Customer - “I think my insurance does not cover COVID-19”
Gig Agent - (Looks up information based Member ID) “Yes, it does sir. I can confirm that”
Now, these are circumstances where contact centers can embrace gig-based services from a group of enthusiastic, skillful, and like-minded folks who can be “the face” and help the enterprise provide a predictable, consistent customer experience, and uplift customer sentiments by not putting customers through long wait times.
When enabled for contact centers, the gig economy will help in on-boarding best talents with right skills across the globe with a very short runway. It also justifies the business case, as long hours spent on training, upskilling, and onboarding new agents for a short span to answer very basic or low complexity customer enquiries is saved.
How Can Digital Facilitate Gig Services?
Technology will play a big part in enabling gig services and ensuring seamless operations and customer experiences. Here are a few use cases on how digital will equip agents in a gig economy:
- Platforms for “Day 0 Enablement”
Gig agents will need to be enabled on platforms which are asset-light, easy-to-configure, and zero-hardware-dependent. CCaaS platforms (contact center as-a-service) such as Amazon Connect, Twilio, and Vonage can enable anytime, anywhere global access and interaction handling capability for agents with onboarding and offboarding in minutes. Our Agent.X offering is focused on offering exactly these capabilities to our clients.
- Language Translation for a Global Workforce
As we know, language is a fundamental skill required in contact centers for call handling. Gone are the days when businesses need to hire agents on the basis of language proficiency. AI has matured to an extent where it can present real-time translation of voice and chat transcripts and email content inside the agent’s desktop their language of choice. Agents with even low language proficiency can continue to understand and respond to customer conversations in their own language and assist without any adverse customer impact. Our FluidCCI solution provides real-time AI insights and assistance to agents and is an ideal solution for enterprises looking to embrace this capability.
- Empathetic Service for “Experience Personalization”
How about customer sentiments? One may argue that the real power of agents lies in understanding customer sentiments and providing empathetic service. AI/ML services have evolved a lot in the last few years and can now map customer sentiments based on real-time dialogue and present the same to the agent to intelligently navigate next best actions and convert every call into a satisfactory interaction. Check out our Sentiment.Quant framework to understand how this works in a contact center setup.
- Innovative Pricing to Support Flexible Operations
Gig agents stay for days or hours, not for months. Platform usage costs must be economical to support a flexible operations model, and this is why modern platforms need to be built on APIs and available on “pay-per-use” pricing. Businesses need to only pay for the services consumed and don’t need to stack up licenses anticipating a peak for the future. Our Fluid Contact Center framework helps leverage the right platform for clients that suits the relevant business case and requirements.
HCL’s Fluid Contact Center practice can enable superior CX for our clients leveraging industry-leading technologies and capabilities to transform their traditional contact center operations into world-class experience centers supporting gig services and providing vital competitive digital differentiation. To know more about our services, solutions, and offerings, please reach out to us to Contact.FluidCC@hcl.com.