Zappos, the online retail giant, is already well known for their exemplary customer service, answering 80% of queries within 20 seconds. Recently, they built on that reputation with the implementation of Open Market, an online scheduler for their customer service employees that allows them to schedule their own hours and get compensated based on the customer demand during those hours.
This system is loosely based off of the payment system used by Uber, the private driving agency that’s made many headlines this year. Uber uses “surge pricing” during peak hours to ensure reliability for both drivers and passengers. When demand is high, users will be notified that surge pricing is in effect, and that their ride will cost more than during “off hours.”
Zappos has taken this model and applied it to its customer service department, meaning that employees who choose to work peak hours are paid more. The Open Market system also allows more flexibility in hours – employees received at least 10% flexible time, so a full time employee would have 4 hours every week where they decided their own schedule. They could choose not to work, to stick them at the beginning or end of an existing shift, or use them on a scheduled day off.
So far, the reaction from employees has been positive. Customer service representatives appreciate having wiggle room in their schedules, using flex hours for emergencies and making the hours up later on.
Meanwhile, Zappos has not seen a decrease in customer service efficiency, and has plans to begin introducing Open Market to other departments so that all of their employees will have the opportunity to take the lead of their own time.
Does this system represent a great leap forward for employees of large companies? We’d like to think so. Call centers often have high turnover rates. If adopted by other companies, this new surge pay system could signify a shift toward longer careers.
Zappos has shown that being dedicated to your employees’ wellbeing yields great results, both in the efficiency of your business and in the happiness of your workers. What to watch out for, however, is how Zappos and others manage the system to avoid pitfalls whereby employees are unjustly shut out of higher wage opportunities. Stay tuned.
Greenville Attorney for Employee Rights
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