Supporting the Gig Worker and Facilitating a Positive Customer Experience

When you're running customer service operations for an established organization such as a retailer, financial institution, or airline, there are many established best practices for providing an excellent customer experience. However, that's not the case for a subset of fast-growing companies in the ride sharing and food delivery spaces. These companies embrace a vastly different business model that credits success to their drivers. They must think differently about their customer experience strategies and customer service operations given the complexities and nuances at hand. In addition to providing exceptional service to their end customers, their strategies need to cater to the unique needs of drivers. 

The emergence of companies in the ride sharing and food delivery space has given rise to gig workers who work multiple jobs where they can set their own hours and be their own bosses. According to recent statistics, there are 57 million gig workers in the United States, accounting for 36 percent of all U.S. workers. Companies must address drivers’ needs, understand their motivations, and leverage the right processes and technology to establish a positive driver experience.

Here are five considerations for companies to keep top of mind: 

  • Provide endless flexibility: The beauty of the gig economy is the flexibility it provides. Individuals wanting to set their own hours and be their own bosses need the ability to onboard and log-in to the app quickly and effortlessly. They want to start driving and making money as soon as possible. On a rainy day they might quickly decide to drive passengers for a few hours, knowing there will be many riders looking to escape the weather. Companies need to embrace this desired flexibility and ensure their platform is up to par. 
  • Differentiate your service: Gig workers have numerous options for employment. Throughout the pandemic, we saw consumers rely on groceries and takeout arriving at their doorsteps in a matter of minutes. Due to the level of convenience, that behavior shift is likely to become permanent, leading to an emergence of many new players. Food and beverage delivery apps need to stand out from the crowd as the employer of choice by offering competitive wages and benefits, easy onboarding and training, and a desirable culture where drivers are motivated to provide excellent service.
  • Anticipate common questions: Through our work with clients in this space, we know that the most common driver inquiry has to do with payments. Customer service teams need to be adept at answering money-related inquiries, including payment delays, cancellation fees, and price reviews. Smart customer service teams can anticipate many of these common questions and proactively share answers in the form of an FAQ for drivers. Furthermore, customer service associates should be trained to answer the more complicated inquiries related to payments and know the proper escalation channels for a resolution.
  • Consider geographical differences: Ambitious ride sharing companies looking to expand globally need to consider how geographical preferences impact driver operations. An important factor is the payment method. In the United States, credit cards are the only payment accepted for many major ride sharing platforms. However, the landscape is vastly different in Latin America and the Carribean, where only 18.8 percent of individuals possess credit cards. It's important that customer service teams grasp these cultural and geographic differences and prepare accordingly for questions and concerns from drivers. 
  • Prioritize safety: Ensuring the safety of drivers and riders needs to be a top concern for all ride sharing companies. Customer service teams need to be able to quickly distinguish inquiries ranging from "my ride is late" or "I need to dispute a charge" to "I'm in danger." Establishing the right queue process for emergencies is the best way to achieve this. When the right processes and technologies are in place, serious inquiries can be routed to an available agent immediately. An important consideration to guarantee agent availability is understanding your staffing structure and anticipating volume fluctuations. When teams are staffed appropriately, customer and driver emergencies can be tackled promptly.  

Businesses should ensure they have the right processes and technologies in place to understand and address their drivers' inquiries, preferences, and motivations. With the gig economy showing no signs of slowing down, it's more important than ever for businesses to support their gig employees. After all, these individuals have the influence to make or break a positive customer experience and determine company success.

 Fara Haron is the regional CEO for North America, Ireland, South East Asia, United Kingdom, Kenya, and India for Majorel.