Building Customer Loyalty: Lessons from the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy revolves around the customer experience, whether the customer is renting an apartment through Airbnb or hiring help to fix their kitchen sink through TaskRabbit. A major benefit these companies gain for the strong focus on perfecting the customer experience is the high customer loyalty rates. Ninety-one percent of customers recommend sharing economy companies after an experience, according to Vision Critical. The sharing economy is currently a $15 billion market, reports PWC, and it's projected to grow rapidly. So what is the sharing economy doing right when it comes to customer loyalty?

Putting Feedback Into Action

The sharing economy places a strong emphasis on customer and employee feedback, with many companies incorporating it as a standard part of the process. Airbnb prompts guests to provide feedback after every stay, which is split between public feedback for the host and private feedback for Airbnb, as well as a rating system.

Airbnb uses customer feedback to improve the customer experience. If customers have issues with a host, the customer support team reaches out to the host to address concerns and review hospitality standards. The company also adjusts processes based on customer input, such as the feedback system. Originally, both host and guest had 30 days to review each other, with the reviews posting instantly. Tech Hive found guests and hosts were hesitant to give fully honest reviews, or negative ones, because of fear of retaliation. Without user transparency, Airbnb couldn't address customer experience issues. The company changed the system, giving guests and hosts 14 days to review each other. Once each party wrote a review, both reviews went public. If only one party wrote a review, the review went up after the review period ended.

Data-Driven Customer Relationship Building

Sharing economy companies also lean heavily on data to find areas where they can improve the customer experience and increase loyalty. Zipcar uses data-driven initiatives throughout its organization, particularly for personalizing the customer experience. This data helps the company find optimal car placement in high-demand areas, develop customized messaging and identify services customers may not be aware of. The company is also working on creating environmental impact reports using its data sets. These reports help customers feel good about their decision to use a car-sharing service instead of driving their own vehicle.

Enabling Emotional Customer Support

Customer support for customer experience-driven sharing economy companies revolves heavily around how the customer feels. Higher emotional engagement with the company helps drive customer loyalty, and some sharing economy companies go above and beyond accommodating this need. DogVacay's customer service hiring strategy focuses on dog lovers first, regardless of their customer service experience. The company's stance is customer service skills can be taught, but a passion for animals is the most important aspect of the job. DogVacay's company culture strongly influences all areas of the company. Dog owners using the service find the customer support department as passionate about pets as they are.

It's difficult to attract customer attention in a world filled with customer options. The sharing economy's focus on building customer loyalty provides many valuable insights for improving your company's customer experience. Gathering and using feedback, putting your data to work and tying in your company culture with customer support are applicable across many industries.

Contact us to learn more about how TaskUs can help you provide exceptional customer experiences.

Sources:

  • http://tms.visioncritical.com/sites/default/files/pdf/sharing-new-buying-collaborative-economy-report.pdf
  • https://www.pwc.com/us/en/technology/publications/assets/pwc-consumer-intelligence-series-the-sharing-economy.pdf
  • http://www.techhive.com/article/2452750/airbnb-revamps-reviews-to-encourage-more-honesty.html
  • http://blog.airbnb.com/hospitality-15-cities-5-key-lessons/
  • http://searchcio.techtarget.com/news/2240204410/Zipcar-CMO-taps-data-driven-marketing-to-personalize-the-business
  • http://www.forbes.com/sites/deniselyohn/2015/03/04/what-you-can-learn-about-customer-experience-from-sharing-economy-companies/

Michael Buenaventura

January 14, 2016