Customer service leaders turn to gig economy to combat Great Resignationby
New study finds many customer service and CX leaders are struggling with staffing issues and are looking to alternatives such as the gig economy for resolutions.
The Great Resignation is causing innumerable staffing challenges for customer service and CX leaders, according to a new study from Limitless.
Despite it being widely reported that one in four workers are still planning to quit their jobs through the course of 2022, until now it has largely been unclear as to the exact impact the Great Resignation has had on those heading up customer service teams.
However, the Limitless research study, which surveyed 400 customer service managers in the UK and US, found that 44% of respondents felt hiring employees is harder now than it was pre-pandemic. Over a third think staff resignations have increased when compared to pre-pandemic levels and 62% say they have had to increase recruitment spend in order to meet staffing minimums.
Many are suffering as a result of their organisation’s unclear or unsatisfactory requests for returning to the office. Despite the pandemic pushing almost 75% of all contact centre workers into remote working environments during much of 2020 and 2021, 40% of customer service managers say a work from home (WFH) model is too difficult to operate long-term.
Over half of customer service employees are now being encouraged to return to the office, while one in four customer service managers won’t allow staff to work remotely at all.
As a result, attrition is up and with recruitment harder than before, 72% of customer service managers have plans to turn to gig employment to help resolve these staffing issues within the next two years.
The gig economy has become widespread in certain sectors in recent years, but customer service has not often been regarded as the right fit. However, Megan Neale, co-founder of Limitless, a ‘GigCX’ platform, believes this has changed as a result of demands in the sector for more flexible work opportunities:
“The pandemic has triggered a tremendous pause, whereby many people began to re-evaluate their employment and work environment options,” she says.
“Many decided they wanted to work less, travel more, or move away from the traditional 9-5 business day model.
“For the customer service industry, this has accelerated a shift in the labour market. To attract and retain call centre agents, for instance, employers now need to think about how they engage people differently and offer flexibility to work on their own terms.”
According to Limitless’ research, the “demand for flexible working” is the number one concern regarding staffing in 2022 (23.5%), followed by sickness absence due to the pandemic (22%) and reluctance of staff to come back to work in contact centres, offices or physical spaces (21%).
A key concern for service leaders looking to the gig economy for support is the growing expectations of customers, which is leading to a new level of complexity when it comes to calls into contact centres, creating a demand for heightened expertise in service staff as a result.
According to a ContactBabel study, the average call length handled by UK contact centres is now 6 minutes 33 seconds, a rise of 79% since 2004. That coupled with the stats that approximately 75% of customers will stop doing business with a company after they’ve had a negative experience with them. Nine out of 10 consumers expect a contact query to be resolved during their first interaction.
Neale, whose own ‘GigCX’ platform works through crowdsourcing and employing brand ambassadors, says the gig economy can help fill gaps in expertise for those service leaders struggling with staffing:
“Today, the power has permanently transferred from brands to consumers. Consumers now have almost unlimited access to information and products, which makes loyalty hard to earn and retain.
“GigCX enables customers to speak directly with a product expert, available anywhere in the world, at any time.
“Having previous experience immediately ensures GigCX experts have hands-on knowledge and are highly motivated to answer intricate questions for the brands they know and love, leading to a more empathetic experience for the customer. Service agents who are trained is one thing - but truly knowing and loving the brand leads to a whole new level of customer experience and human connection.”
Chris is Editor of MyCustomer. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News. He joined MyCustomer in 2014.