My sister recently decided to upgrade her iPhone 5 to an iPhone X. “You are moving from a car phone to a rocket ship,” the expert delivering her phone stated.
This wasn’t a typical delivery person, or a typical salesperson. It was someone who had been specifically trained on activating and setting up phones for AT&T. Instead of going directly into a store, my sister found the iPhone she wanted online, then selected between two new delivery options that AT&T was offering:
- Today, not two-day: Customers can get their device as soon as the day they order it.
- Delivery with activation help & setup: Consumers can have their device delivered, set up, and activated the same day by a device expert, who supplies all the help needed with their device.
AT&T partnered with a startup company, Enjoy to have experts deliver and set up mobile devices right at the customer’s door. Enjoy also partners with companies such as Google and SONOS to offer similar delivery and set up options to their customers.
Enjoy and its partnership with the affiliated companies is an example of how more and more businesses are relying on the power of contractors, freelancers, and “gig” workers to deliver a service. Approximately 150 million workers in North America and Europe now work as independent contractors, freelancers or “giggers.” These workers are typically on these “gigs” for short-term or seasonal contracts, and often are “on demand” workers without set schedules.
Much of the growth of these workers are the after-effect of the emergence of on demand service platforms, such as Airbnb and Uber. As a consumer, we can see the benefits of gig workers for b2c services like delivery of tech: more availability of services that we like, less wait times, frequent updates such as time to arrival, the power to leave instant, visible feedback, to name a few.
The benefits for the gig worker are typically a flexible lifestyle, the ability to work remotely, the opportunity to pick up extra hours or shifts in a second job, and no long-term obligation.
But what are some of the true benefits for businesses to enter and invest in the gig economy?
The best boost: Better customer engagements
In a recent article by Shep Hyken, Hyken shares how gig workers are usually more motivated to resolve customer problems for at least two reasons: They are compensated by how many problems they resolve (or jobs they take on), and customer ratings impact their future gig.
Because of this, many gig workers do not have that “corporate reputation.” They are experts on products and services because they are consumers of those same products and services. They speak to customers more as peers who are actual users for a product or service, and less as salesmen or service providers.
When my sister was getting her iPhone set up, the gig worker followed the script on the things that she was supposed to try to up-sell my sister on. Yet, unlike commissioned fueled workers, she wasn’t overly pushy about the additional products. She spoke honestly on the accessories she found useful and the ones that were not as useful.
She built trust between her customer by speaking as a user. This created an authentic experience and encouraged my sister to leave a positive review for the worker and for her overall AT&T experience. Gig workers have the ability to provide more authentic experiences and in turn better customer engagements.
Knock, knock: Gain access to new markets with the gig economy
One of the key benefits of the gig economy is flexibility. Since these gig workers typically work remotely and rely on mobile devices, they can be located and scaled anywhere.In addition, since they are not confined to an office or territory, many are willing to drive distances to where a customer is located to deliver a service.
This gives businesses the opportunity to expand their customer base and access markets that they could not reach before. Leveraging mobile devices, companies can also provide customers real-time updates so the customer knows when they need to be available and who they should be expecting. It minimizes the anxiety and frustration of wait times and grants your gig workers realistic travel times to get to their next location.
Move over, Goliath: Leveling the playing field
One of the biggest benefits for smaller businesses or startups is that the gig economy provides them the opportunity to operate like a large enterprise, without the overhead. There has been a common equation that the best employees can only be retained in the long term, with high salaries. Yet, most small to midsize businesses cannot afford full time employees who earn over six figures.
The gig economy now gives the opportunity for companies to try out skilled workers on a temporary basis, without the full time salary, benefits and office overhead. For many companies, gig workers are also tax deductible as they are considered a normal business expense. It also gives companies the opportunity to compare talent and retain those employees that are high performing, for full-time gigs, if desired.
There have been many articles written over the last two years on the pros and cons of entering into the gig economy. Is it sustainable? What does it mean for the full time workforce? How will the face of companies continue to change?
The question that should be answered by companies today is: Do gig workers make sense for my brand?