By Nicholas Watson, Co-Founder & CEO of Udrive
The savviest businesses, from retailers to service providers, recognize that today’s consumers have infinite options for where they spend their money. Delivering stellar customer service is one of the most impactful and cost-effective ways to distinguish a brand from the competition. People remember good service when they receive it, tell their friends about it, and honor it with repeat business. The same is true when poor service is provided, where people quickly abandon ship when it goes wrong.
According to a Brookings report, the sharing economy is poised to reach $335 billion by 2025. With the sharing economy expanding into nearly every industry, providing the best customer service becomes essential. Businesses operating a sharing economy business model have become so ubiquitous that they now rival large, traditional, and established enterprises in multiple sectors. Brands in the sharing economy not just offer cost-effective, easy, convenient, and emotionally fulfilling services, but primarily what fuels their growth is their relentless focus on customer experience.
In addition to the sharing economy, on-demand service is also causing waves to the traditional business model, driven by instant gratification and rewards from the customer’s perspective. Moreover, the commodification of the on-demand delivery app and the expansion of e-commerce during the pandemic have made it possible for customers to request a service or product in real time in a few simple steps.
Mobile applications are the foundation of building efficient on-demand services. Businesses operating in this space must map each step of the customer experience to recognize touch points that cause friction. While restaurants have been part of this economy for several years, the on-demand bug has spread to other industries, including groceries, retail, and even car rentals. Delivering a stellar customer experience is the key to success in the sharing and on-demand economy, and this holds especially true with transactions taking place through a mobile application with minimal to no human interaction.
When it comes to car rentals, more consumers are motivated to try new mobile apps and new services that emerge in the space. Careem and Udrive, among others, combine the need for on-demand with the need to not own. A recent report on the sharing and collaborative economy states that more than 90% of its customers would recommend a service they have used most recently to a friend if they had a positive experience.
Self-service options are important
Making it as easy as possible for customers to find answers and resolve issues themselves is paramount. This means customers should be able to access a comprehensive, well-organized, and easily searchable knowledge base or support site or app, rather than having to contact customer service directly.
Businesses need to research the target audience, define customer needs, and understand why the market’s current players aren’t fulfilling them. For instance, Udrive has simplified the backend complex technical stack by providing customers with an easy booking experience using a mobile app. The company also built a full-stack parking system that allows its cars to determine the location automatically, map it against the parking zone and allow for automated RTA payment, removing the burden from customers.
Implement a suitable business model and establish trust through crowdsourcing
We live in a world where every customer has a choice, and they are just a few clicks away from a competitor. Delivering the right customer experience is paramount to building loyalty and for them to keep coming back. For instance, Udrive provides an opt-in model rather than an opt-out. This is important for businesses operating in car rentals where many industry players attempt to pressure or force customers through fear into adopting opt-out policies on ancillary spendings, such as collision damage waivers, damage reporting, and excess KM packages.
Online reviews are also at the heart of the sharing and on-demand economy. Before anyone agrees to use an Uber driver, rent an Airbnb room, or hire a car, they check out what others who’ve used the service have to say. And companies facilitate this through easy-to-use technology and easy-to-understand rating systems.
Personalized engagement is key
Quite often, customers view sharing economy companies as faceless organizations. It is necessary right from the beginning to build a brand that recognizes and rewards customer loyalty and behavior.
Sharing economies are changing the way businesses operate, but they need to compete with well-established giants, and the only way to succeed is by maintaining a consistent reputation paired with excellent customer service. For instance, Udrive tracks fuel levels and rewards customers who refuel cars, by adding credits at the end of their trip.
Data-driven analysis can help companies in the sharing economy understand what needs to be developed to reach out to untapped markets. The opportunity, therefore, lies in the ability to extract value from the amount of data generated in real-time continuous streams from multiple sources.
Before developing an on-demand app, consider what features it will have and what problems those will solve. For instance, while the rental industry is primarily engineered to dissuade bad behavior with penalties and hidden charges, Udrive focuses on rewarding good behavior. Every on-demand service should strive to simplify the customer journey, which is the goal of building a phenomenal customer experience.