Crowd Service Blog Series Part 4
The trend towards a new kind of labor market is inevitable. The next generation of employable experts is looking for the kind of autonomy and flexibility that a full-time job can’t offer them. The result is a new gig economy , and it requires a new business model, like a crowd service, that can accommodate a freelance workforce. But what are the risks of relying on freelance employees, and are they outweighed by any benefits?
Onboarding vs. Sustainability
Companies who work with freelancers know how important it is to provide as much insight into the company and corporate culture as possible. This is especially the case for freelancers who are representing the company for clients. However, providing all this knowledge to a large number of contingent workers is time consuming. For that reason, companies often feel more inclined to work with full-time employees who are already familiar with all the ins and outs of the business.
Soon, though, this model will no longer be sustainable. This is especially the case in the field service sector where real-time demands and predictive maintenance are changing the way customers demand service. Field service providers hoping to remain competitive will need a much larger workforce to respond to client needs. Yet hiring enough full-time employees to fulfill this need is a near impossibility. Not only because of the enormous overhead costs, but also because there is a limited number of skilled service technicians and new talent is opting for more flexible labor models.
The crowd service offers the perfect solution. It allows for a pool of skilled workers consisting of employees, partners, subcontractors and freelancers. That means there is always a service technician available. It also facilitates the process of determing which service technician has the skill set that is most beneficial to getting the job done. And although this might require some investment in onboarding, it will ensure that burgeoning customer demands and expectations for quick fixes in real-time can be met. In addition, many freelance workers are accustomed to transitioning between different business sectors. Therefore, they can often learn new skills quickly and process information easily. All in all, customer satisfaction is almost a guarantee!
Company Loyalty vs. outside perspective
Another concern companies have is the question of company loyalty. An employee is vested in the success of the company. If the company succeeds, the employee has guaranteed security. Freelancers, on the other hand, do not rely on one single company for security and a paycheck. However, it would be a mistake to think this would diminish the quality of their work and commitment to their clients’ success.
Like any field service provider, a freelancer’s livelihood depends on customer satisfaction. If customers are not happy, they go elsewhere. In addition, freelancers often rely on word-of-mouth referrals for new acquisitions. A satisfied customer is more likely to recommend a freelancer to business acquaintances.
Furthermore, having an outside perspective can be a real advantage, especially given the volatility of the digital age. Technology, business models, customer demands, solutions are changing rapidly every day. Fresh insight can help avoid the blind spots that result from being too wrapped up in the company viewpoint. In addition, freelancers contribute an ample pool of knowledge and experience that spreads across various business sectors. They might see an answer that someone too close to the problem would otherwise miss.
Availabilty vs. accessibility
A common and unfounded concern about freelancers is their availability. Having a person in the office from 9 to 5 feels more reliable than having to contact a freelancer who may or may not be available to attend to a task. Yet, an employee who is on the job from 9 to 5 might not be available for a customer emergency. And that same employee might also spend hours a week with no customer requests. This kind of mismanaged time can cost companies customer trust and wasted funds.
Instead of having one expert available from 9 to 5, it is substantially more reliable to have a number of experts with a broad set of skills accessible 24/7. Today’s constant flow of information demands constant digital connectivity. This is easily managed via apps and using field service management platforms. By also integrating a crowd service platform like the one offered by Coresystems, it is simple to maintain constant access to a pool of potential experts. Even if one is not available, having a crowd means that there are always more trusted people you can rely on. And the best part of it all is that your customers never have to wait for top notch service.
Regardless of any cost benefit analysis that you might calculate for your company, the fact remains that you will soon have to reconsider your workforce model. Digital transformation is reshaping how we live and work. Companies that choose not to prepare themselves for these changes, run the risk of widening the talent gap and diminishing customer satisfaction. Choosing to work with freelancers is opting to embrace the future of the workforce.
For more information and deep understanding of the Crowd Service concept we suggest to read the following white paper: Understanding Crowd Service Solutions: The Evolution Of Field Service
Author: Manuel Grenacher, CEO Coresystems