Growth and Scale in the Sharing Economy

The Importance of Customer Service for Growth and Scale in the Sharing Economy

The sharing economy is transforming the world we live in. New technologies have made it possible for the public to hire out their own belongings - their cars, their homes, their talents and more - in a way that has never been done before. This big change is largely due to the availability of more data about people and what they have, want and need. Before the Internet was so omnipotent, you could rent items from others, but it was usually a hassle. These days, websites like Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit and dozens of others make it simple to match up renters and owners.

Of course, these huge changes must also come with a change in customer experience (CX) expectations and operational procedures. So how are companies in this sharing economy ensuring they are able to grow and scale accordingly, even as they're redefining these experiences?

Active Listening

One of the biggest differences in customer service in the sharing economy is that companies are listening to their customers in a way that didn't really happen before. Airbnb, for example, asks for feedback through every step of the process. They make their customer service reps available for help with booking, during the stay and then immediately request both guests and hosts give public feedback after their stay. The company also asks customers to share travel stories and pictures in order to drive further engagement.

Recommendation Engines

Recommendation engines are tools that help companies predict what users like and don't like. They use algorithms to improve the customer experience by enabling companies to focus on what their customers are excited about. It's another way of putting big data to use in order to ramp up customer service. Recommendation engines are powerful because they help a company continue to scale and grow along with the size of their customer base. For example, think about how LinkedIn uses the "people you may know" engine in order to recommend only a few members out of their entire database.

Creating an Authentic Experience

Customers have plenty of choices these days, and companies need to separate themselves by providing a superior customer experience. CX is at the core of the business strategy for companies like Airbnb and Uber, which are constantly thinking of new ways to become more authentic. It's important to look at ways to create the kind of experience your particular customers want and to forge an emotional connection between them and your core team. Uber does this by giving users a profile of their drivers before the pick-up occurs, and offering polite, consistent and reliable service in a fleet of cars that is luxurious and comfortable. The company wants to make sure their customers have only excellent experiences, unlike taxi cab rides, which can be a bit more volatile. This kind of attention to detail allows a company to remain agile and deliver stellar customer service as it grows.

The sharing economy is only going to continue to grow and expand. Keeping CX at the core of your business strategy is the best way to scale and grow along with your customer base. Keeping up with changes in technology that help you offer the best possible customer service and experience will ensure your customers stay happy and loyal.

Sources

  • http://www.taskus.com/how-sharing-economy-companies-redefine-customer-experience/
  • http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21573104-internet-everything-hire-rise-sharing-economy
  • http://www.techrepublic.com/article/we-commerce-the-sharing-economys-uncertain-path-to-changing-the-world/
  • http://www.forbes.com/sites/lutzfinger/2014/09/02/recommendation-engines-the-reason-why-we-love-big-data/

Michael Buenaventura

December 15, 2015