On a beach holiday in Goa, the last person you want to deal is a Hawker. They are pushy, unreasonable and aggressive. However, this is not unique to Goa or to even tourism as a sector. But why do holiday hawkers treat you so different from your regular neighborhood shopkeeper? Because he has no hope of ever doing business with you again and wants to maximize profit now – whatever it takes. In other words, he has no interest in your “customer satisfaction” and does not expect to see you again.
Many businesses have a strong non-repeat character – tourism, public taxi, used car sale, real estate. None particularly known for customer service. Operators in these businesses are typically hunters focussed on the ‘kill’, rather then farmers who want to ‘cultivate’ customer relationships.
Moving from being a hunter to a farmer was a major evolutionary milestone for the mankind. It allowed for development of civilizations, trade and much more. Today bulk of the major sectors have already moved to being farmers – every time you hear Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) its about ‘cultivating’ relationships.
However, some sectors are stuck with hunters – real estate is one big example. Getting a house is a rare but one of the biggest expenses in your life. Unfortunately you are at the mercy of hunters looking for revenue maximization for themselves. Mis-selling is the norm, irrespective of its implications for the buyer/renter.
With technology (esp. mobile) this can be fixed now. In the last decade, there are two business models that have evolved to bring non-repeat/low-repeat businesses to superior customer service – both technology driven, obviously!
- The Public Ratings Model (ex. TripAdvisor)
Leisure customers rarely stay at the same place again. And hotels know that too! Beyond the few branded chains, stand alone hotels have limited incentive to invest in customer service. But that changed with travel forums like TripAdvisor. Past customers shared there experience online, influencing future customers & business. That forced low repeat businesses to graduate from hunting to farming. Same impact came from businesses like Yelp, Zomato in other sectors.
- The Market Network Model (ex. Uber)
The Public Ratings model had little impact for sectors where the service providers themselves had little to no brand identity! You can rate a hotel but not taxi drivers. In this case, the businesses not only depend on ratings but also take ownership of the service delivery & hence the experience. For service providers, business from network is repeat & high frequency. Businesses like Uber have used mobile technology to integrate service delivery with their larger discovery & ratings platform. Uber, uses its driver mobile app to track his performance & allow him to serve better (ex. giving directions etc.). However, the biggest value Market Networks add is to bring predictability in income for its participants. Helping transform them from Hunters to Farmers.
At FastFox.com we are building a Market Network for Home Rentals, which transforms the customer experience by taking complete ownership of their experience. FastFox uses mobile technology to help Agents dedicated to our network to close more than twice of those operating in the open market. Each of the actions from inventory sourcing, clicking pics, makes them money. Hence, it makes their payouts predictable and not dependent on that ‘Big Deal’. It changes their behavior and they value customer feedback that determines their own future business. Real Estate Agents are not traditionally recognized for their customer service – time to make that big leap. From hunting to farming.
Author: Pallav Pandey
Passionate about building tech-enabled businesses in emerging markets. Excited to work with young companies in their journey from 0 to 1.