What do companies like SAP, Microsoft, Airbnb, LinkedIn, Autodesk, and Republic Wireless all have in common? These companies — all customer experience leaders — have fully embraced the experience economy to differentiate their brand.
There’s no one size fits all strategy for delivering innovative customer service that stands out from the competition. However, given the growing need for scale and flexibility within existing support models, many CX leaders have turned to an on-demand freelance model.
Augmenting customer support teams with on-demand experts to deliver technical and product-related support has proven to increase customer satisfaction, reduce wait times, and significantly improve business flexibility.
As you consider implementing a more flexible, alternative workforce, there are a few core principles that are important to review to understand the model and how it works.
How does an on-demand freelance model deliver world-class care?
There are four core principles that are critical to a successful on-demand freelance model:
Accessibility – You want on-demand experts who, collectively, can be available to provide support 24 hours a day, with response times significantly faster than agent SLAs.
Competency – Your experts should be just that — experts on your product or service, with knowledge of and experience with your product or service that is deep enough to address the full gamut of customer queries, from basic to advanced. According to an expert survey conducted earlier this year, more than 60% of Directly experts have over five years of hands-on experience using the products and services they support and 80% have more than three years of first-hand experience.
Scalability and flexibility – A combined support workforce made up of full-time customer service agents and on-demand experts offers unprecedented scalability and flexibility. During an unplanned surge of customer support requests, you may not be able to train more contact center agents to respond fast enough. But you can activate a pre-vetted expert network in a matter of hours. In many ways, it’s a simpler task to ensure your on-demand experts have the appropriate people skills than it is to train customer service agents to become power users.
Trust – Experts are ambassadors for your brand. As such, experts must treat customers with the same professional courtesy and respect as your agents would, which we ensure with extensive skills testing and training. As fans of your product to begin with, experts’ natural enthusiasm for it will be obvious— and even contagious — in their interactions with customers. Additionally, there’s a level of trust that a customer has when engaging with another customer – knowing it’s someone who has experienced the same issue and frustration. The security of your customers’ data should also be at the forefront — which is why at Directly, we go to great lengths to mitigate risk and ensure customer data remains secure.
How does an on-demand freelance model ensure equity and fairness for experts?
In addition to the previous core principles, it is also critical that the on-demand model operates in a way that is mutually beneficial for the organization and the experts. There are a few important expert principles that must be in place for the model to be successful:
Diversity and inclusion – It is vital to treat all experts fairly and respectfully and offer everyone equal access to opportunities and resources. Every expert is welcome, judged off merit, and rewarded based on their performance.
Fairness and equity – Access to opportunities are fair and equitable, based on question type and expert skill set, and are available to all qualified experts.
Fair compensation – Experts need to feel that the work they are doing is rewarded fairly and appropriately when they successfully answer a question and leave a positive impression on a customer. There should be a set task-based reward system in place so that it’s clearly outlined how expert earnings are calculated.
Flexibility and control – Experts appreciate having flexibility and control over when and where they work, free of rigid schedules, commitments or minimum requirements. Additionally, experts should have the flexibility to preview tasks before accepting them and, if necessary or preferred, leave them for other experts to complete and share the reward.
How do you measure success?
The core principles described above form the basis of a successful on-demand expert network. Success of the network can be determined using many of the same metrics you use to assess other CX efforts: such as higher CSAT scores, reduced response times (or time to first response), higher net promoter score (NPS), and customer lifetime value (CLV).
An equally important metric to monitor the success of the network is workforce retention. Among BPO agents, industry estimates for turnover rates are 30-45% annually. But on-demand experts report higher job satisfaction and have a true passion for the brands they represent and, as a result, stay active on the Directly platform longer than most customer service agents stay on with a company or BPO. In fact, in our recent survey, 95% of Directly experts said they would like to continue working with us for at least the next year.
Directly delivers world-class customer service for leading Fortune 500 brands. Captive and outsourced contact center models increasingly can’t keep up with customer service demands, while self-service is only effective at deflecting simple contacts. With Directly, we help you troubleshoot a wide range of technical issues using on-demand experts and best-in-class AI technology. Customers like Microsoft, Samsung, and Airbnb partner with Directly to reduce contact center volume up to 40%, boost CSAT up to 20%, and save millions per year. Contact us to set up a demo today.