The popularity of the sharing economy continues to grow, with consumers more willing than ever to try new mobile apps and new services that emerge in the peer-to-peer (P2P) space.
Uber, Airbnb, JustPark, Zipcar, and many others have contributed to a flourishing sharing economy. In 2021, the industry attracted 86.5 million customers in the US alone and is projected to hit global annual revenue of US$40.2 billion in 2022.
However, with such a vast range of options available, customer loyalty has become a massive challenge for P2P companies. In addition, most brands don’t have complete control over the end-to-end customer experience, making it tough to deliver quality service on the front lines.
Here are a handful of ways P2Ps can overcome the loyalty challenge and retain customers for the long term.
Build a Community Around Your Service
Customers and hosts are the most valuable tool for P2P companies to boost loyalty, so it’s vital to keep them happy with the brand and happy with each other.
One way to do this is to provide online community platforms or channels where users can interact, support each other, and discuss the services on offer. Social media platforms like Facebook, Reddit, and Discord are great places to build those communities and engage with users first-hand.
Studies indicate that a sense of community enhances trust between users, making it critical to value creation. In addition, when customers feel like part of a group, they gain a sense of pride in the community they’re participating in, helping them stick around for the long run.
Approach Customers on a Personal Level
With hyper-personalization touching almost every industry, customers have become accustomed to brands that know their purchasing preferences and specific likes or dislikes.
Digital-native P2P companies have the capabilities to store and analyze masses of customer data. When combined with a targeted customer experience strategy, this data is a powerful tool for personal interactions and trust-building.
For instance, a customer support agent at Airbnb could ask a returning customer how their previous stay went, striking up a conversation about the location’s pros and cons and noting their positive and negative feedback for future recommendations.
Focusing on personalized CX makes it easier to approach customers, discuss their queries, show how important they are to your brand, and keep them coming back for more. Satisfied customers naturally want to share their positive experiences, so, with this approach, you’re also investing in free PR wherever they go.
Introduce Loyalty Programs
One of the main difficulties in providing a digital P2P service is the lack of control over the transaction in the real world. For example, if an Airbnb is full of cockroaches or an Uber driver drives like Mr. Bean, customers will inevitably turn to an alternative service if there is no sense of loyalty.
With a loyalty program for customers and hosts alike, P2Ps can incentivize the behaviors they want to see on both sides. For instance, Airbnb hosts will fumigate their property if promised an extra layer of recognition for their efforts (like a Superhost badge), while Uber Rewards offers customers the chance to earn credits towards future rides, helping them decide to return even after a bad experience.
Ask for Feedback and Adapt
P2P brands must understand what they are doing right or wrong to adapt for the future and boost loyalty. And what is the best source of this information? The customer.
Customers usually interact with contractors more than company employees in the sharing economy, so they primarily direct their reviews at the contractors. Even so, brands should educate contractors on upholding the company’s values (while keeping them loyal, of course) because positive word-of-mouth is critical for success in the sharing economy, especially for new entrants.
Overall, online customer reviews and one-to-one interactions between CX agents and customers are vital for improving service and providing the best possible experience. Therefore, establishing a reliable, accessible customer experience delivery team that can address feedback quickly and positively is an essential part of any loyalty-boosting strategy.