Gig CX vs BPX | Navigating the complexities of CX outsourcing in a gig economy

Opinion by Clinton Cohen, CEO of iContact BPO

In the customer service realm, ‘GigCX’ has been touted as a go-to solution for businesses looking to stay competitive by upscaling and diversifying their customer experience skills to meet fluctuating market and seasonal demands.  Many are also seeing it as an alternative to making permanent appointments in a volatile and uncertain economy.

In fact, according to the South Africa National GBS Quantification & Investment Report, as the gig economy becomes more of an element in the Global Business Services (GBS) working world, the use of gig platforms (73%), a shift away from fulltime 9 to 5 jobs (61%) and collaborative workspaces (55%) will be the top trends impacting South Africa’s gig economy within GBS going forward. Notably, GBS operators facing skills shortages will use gig workers to tap into different skills anywhere in the world (55%).

But it also holds tremendous risk and the potential for reputational damage and lost business due to the disjoin that comes with managing and delivering CX - and all its many complex cultural and technical components – as a ‘gig’.

Here’s why.

In its essence, ‘gig’ work is an inherently solo pursuit, with experienced individuals offering their skills and services, on a temporary basis, and in many instances, such as in the case with contact centre agents, from far-flung locations across the globe.  Typically, gig economy workers want to be master of their own time and the terms that they are willing to work on, which for many businesses, raises challenges in recruiting freelance workers who are reliable and fully committed to the task of delivery great CX – an inherently challenging and competitive field.

No one is disputing that with the click of a button and cloud technology, gig workers from all over the globe can meet, work and collaborate on a gig platform that would have been impossible a decade ago.  But, while it may seem quite feasible to manage a handful of gig customer service pros to work on a temporary project or seasonal sales spike, it becomes an imminently more complex task when the demand is for 50 or a few hundred outsourced CX agents to handle peak season demands, at pace, at volume and at high quality and compliance levels.

Consider the prospect of having to recruit, screen, onboard, train, manage and pay a few hundred gig workers, across disparate geographies, cultures and time zones, to take on your peak season sales, when the window of opportunity to get it right is razor slim, and the potential to get it horribly wrong is a gaping chasm.  Where and how do you even begin assessing whether there is the right culture-fit for your business and customers in a gig CX scenario where everyone operates as an inherently individual, solopreneur?

BPX: Making the gig workforce work for CX outsourcing

When it comes to your most treasured business asset – customer relationships - it simply isn’t that simple to manage CX on a ‘gig’ basis. Maintaining quality and consistency from a distance, as well as managing talent across multiple locations and time zones, cultures and operating environments, as well as compliance of engagements can be massively challenging.   Pulling all that talent together, in one concerted, focused and highly managed effort is a job best handled by CX outsourcing specialists with solid BPO operations, tech infrastructure, management skills and quality and compliance controls. The solution lies in bringing the best of gig workforce flexibility together in a fully managed CX outsourcing solution – what iContact BPO refers to as BPX.

When building a BPX model for your business, there needs to be a strategy and roadmap that underpins how this process unfolds, and how the stated objectives translate into operational excellence. And it goes beyond the singular focus on human capital.

BPX is premised in three fundamentals –

  • Brand
  • People and
  • Customer Xperience.

It’s about providing access to better and newer technology, process enhancements, quality management, workforce flexibility, access to specialized people skills, cost savings, operational efficiencies, multichannel customer service channels and all the makings needed to deliver on superior customer experiences. That Gig CX agent is just one factor in a complex and holistic CX outsourcing solution.

Navigating the complexities of outsourced CX through BPX

In making the decision to outsource CX, there are several serious challenges that every business needs to be aware of. These include:

1. Loss of Control: When CX is outsourced, the company may have less direct control over the customer interactions. Managing a remote gig-based workforce in many locations is very different to managing a team of agents in a contact center. BPX addresses this by establishing and maintaining consistent messaging, quality, and brand representation through ongoing training and quality control measures at a centralised and expertly managed level. Your BPX team becomes an intrinsic part of your business and internal team.

2. Cultural and Language Differences: Outsourcing, especially to offshore locations, can result in cultural and language barriers. These differences may affect communication, understanding of customer needs, and the ability to deliver a personalized experience. Cultural alignment with your outsource partner is at the heart of success regardless of how effective your outsourcing strategy may be. Cultural alignment transcends fluency in your company’s language or familiarity with your local culture – the outsource partner should be seen as a natural extension of your workforce – in other words, people your company would want to hire and work with!

3. Data Security and Privacy Concerns: Customer interactions often involve sensitive information. Outsourcing CX requires careful consideration of data security and privacy to ensure that customer information is handled responsibly and in compliance with relevant regulations. This is virtually impossible in a GIG CX scenario where each individual is likely to operate on a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) basis. The potential for catastrophic cyber and information breaches is significant in such scenarios.

4. Integration with In-House Systems and Tech: Seamless integration of outsourced CX with in-house systems is essential. Challenges in integrating technologies and processes can result in inefficiencies and communication gaps. A professional BPX partner will have agnostic technology integration that supports your CX objectives at its core.

5. Quality and Regulatory Compliance: Different countries have varying regulations regarding customer data, privacy, and communication. Ensuring that the outsourcing partner complies with all relevant regulations is crucial to avoid legal issues and reputational damage. With a large pool of distributed gig workers, how do you maintain and monitor service quality and compliance using traditional metrics, oversight, and performance management standards?

The EX in CX

4. Training and Knowledge Transfer: Ensuring that outsourced agents are adequately trained and have a deep understanding of the company's products, services, and values is crucial. And it is vital to have a solid understanding of the sophistication, experience and commitment of the management team that will be running your outsourced CX operations. Who are the people that will be providing the service and support, what is the level of training competence and quality assurance, what is the level of experience and commitment of the supervisory and operations teams?

5. Turnover and Employee Engagement: High turnover rates among outsourced customer service agents can be a challenge and even more so among freelancers and gig workers. Constantly changing agents can result in a lack of continuity, making it difficult to build strong customer-agent relationships. It is crucial to bring together your Culture, Customer Value Proposition, and role Competencies and this should be foundational to how your CX outsourcing partner sources, assesses, develops, and coaches high-performance CX agents.

BPX delivers a future-proof strategy that brings together the best of the gig economy, CX talent, flexibility and scalability, technology and customer service delivery in a world that is increasingly experiencing more demand variability than stability. Agility, adaptiveness and responsiveness have never been more critical in an environment where the CX stakes are more competitive than ever.


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