How Sharing Economy Companies Redefine Customer Experience

The sharing economy is characterized by organizations such as Uber, Lyft, Rent the Runway and Airbnb. The customer experience (CX) isn't a part of what they do -- it's their core competency. These disruptive companies are changing the dialogue in their respective industries by changing the fundamentals of expected CX, resulting in a strong and favorable response from customers dissatisfied with traditional business models.

The Differences in CX for Sharing Companies

Sharing economy organizations look at the CX from start to finish, taking care of every detail required to turn a good experience into an amazing one. They want to build customer loyalty and love by creating a process that emphasizes excellent customer service. To the sharing economy, the CX isn't something to consider after they developed their products and services -- it's the first consideration that colors the entire company. ClickZ points out that there is zero barrier to entry for consumers using a service. In fact, sharing economy companies such as Uber and Lyft provide incentives to encourage customer sign-ups.

Active Listening and Engagement

The biggest take away from the sharing economy is the amount they listen to customers. They focus on getting feedback at every step of the process, providing open and welcoming channels for customers to discuss concerns, send praise and otherwise talk to the company. Sharing economy companies use this feedback to improve the process, whether these companies need to adjust an app feature or they address concerns if a contractor is not adhering to the company's core values. Vision Critical found 71% of people using sharing economy services were satisfied with their customer experience.

Sharing economy companies also drive active conversations within the community. This is readily apparent through Airbnb. Customers are encouraged to share their experiences with hosts through online reviews and ratings. A program called Create Airbnb combines feedback with brand awareness by motivating customers to create travel stories with pictures featuring a hand-created Airbnb logo.

CX Strategies Sharing Economy Companies Use

You might not be able to rebuild your entire company around a CX core, but you can incorporate effective strategies from the sharing economy.

  • Utilize customer feedback to shape their experience. You gather a lot of data on customers throughout the sales life cycle - put it to good use by improving their experience with the data they give. Recommendation engines work particularly well for this, as they look at customer feedback and activity to recommend products and services relevant to their needs.
  • Provide passion through customer service. Focus on creating customer service agents who are passionate about your core business values and allow that to color the entire CX. Providing the team with the tools they need to get their jobs done quickly and efficiently, as well as giving them hands-on time with products and services, helps to add that passion. If it's possible, encourage customer service agents to actively use the company's products on a day to day basis.
  • Create an authentic experience. Don't go along with the crowd when you're delivering your products or services. Look at ways to create an experience customers aren't going to forget. You may want to encourage connection between your core team and customers, or look at innovative and fun ways to demonstrate your products.

The sharing economy continues to grow, and for good reason. Customers these days are spoiled for choice, and the only thing separating many companies is the customer experience. These companies use CX as the core of their business strategy, helping to develop a loyal customer base who is more than happy to shout their praises from the rooftops. Utilizing these strategies within your own organization helps you improve your overall CX and increase customer retention and loyalty.

 

References:

http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2387167/the-extra-mile-customer-service-and-the-sharing-economy

http://www.forbes.com/sites/deniselyohn/2015/03/04/what-you-can-learn-about-customer-experience-from-sharing-economy-companies/

http://insights.wired.com/profiles/blogs/the-sharing-economy-and-customer-service#axzz3ZYQLvVbr

http://tms.visioncritical.com/sites/default/files/pdf/sharing-new-buying-collaborative-economy-report.pdf

Michael Buenaventura

July 31, 2015