Through social media and e-commerce, we are more connected than ever before. However, there is an undercurrent of distrust, taking a significant toll on consumer loyalty. Business experts stress the importance of social media marketing and working with algorithms and SEO to get the most attention for their business. But, many small business owners stress that transparency and authenticity do far more to strengthen ties and create loyalty.
Jonathan Wicks is the founder of Well & Good Property Services, solving the problem of a shortage of genuine, transparent service in the short-term rental industry.
“Our world has quickly become a distrustful one,” says Wicks, “Society and business seem to be constantly working behind algorithms, fine print, and less than forthcoming information to reach their intended outcome, and that takes a toll on our trust and loyalty. I believe that companies, especially service companies, can work to change this narrative.”
Wicks changed this narrative by offering a high level of full-scale property servicing and consistently over-delivering and exceeding expectations.
“Never before has servicing been more needed, and it happens with humanity first,” says Wicks.
The “human” side of the service industry is often diluted behind the pursuit of the almighty dollar and too much focus on getting the work, not servicing the customer well.
Transparency Leads to Trust
Consumers will be fiercely loyal to brands and companies that go out of their way to build trust. According to a Vivendi survey , up to 77% of brands could disappear, and no one would care. This cutthroat approach by consumers shows the loyalty to a few select brands and businesses that people have. The particular nature of consumers makes breaking into an industry as a new business and earning the trust and loyalty of new customers an uphill battle.
Per another survey by Acquia, nearly 50% of consumers feel that brands generally do not meet their expectations. This failure to meet expectations also affects a new business’s ability to build allegiance with customers. Suppose consumers are going into a transaction wary of the legitimacy of a brand’s claim or expecting to be disappointed. In that case, this puts the business at a disadvantage from the get-go.
To Wicks, simplifying the approach to the consumer transaction is a pathway to earning loyalty.
“The fact is that a business needs to make money to be in business, and the customer needs to be benefiting from the business to continue to use it,” says Wicks, “Those two things create a major synergy if they follow the simple mindset of both not taking advantage of the other.”
In Wicks’ business, his focus is solidly on doing things better than expected and creating win/win situations. Loyalty is built by consistently placing the customer’s satisfaction on par with the company’s desire to succeed.
Setting Expectations in the Short Term Rental Industry
Currently, 23,000 short-term/vacation rental companies operate in the United States. Most of those are small businesses.
“The short-term rental industry is one with tremendous upsides, but the downsides can be very real as well,” says Wicks.
Downsides present themselves when customer expectations are not met, eventually leading to a loss in profitability for the short-term rental owner. The ripple effect then impacts the teammates and professionals and often results in frustrated workforces and guests.
Transparency is much needed in many industries, and the short-term rental industry is no exception. All transparency begins with honesty. Honestly outlining what guests can expect from your rental, or what rental owners can expect from the business that serves them, such as Well & Good, sets expectations and allows them to be met.
The old adage of “underpromise and overdeliver” serves businesses well. If a company overpromises and is unable to meet that promise, the loyalty from the customer will be almost impossible to retain.
Businesses, overall, would instead retain customers than try to build a new customer base. Staying professional, overdelivering on promised service, and creating win-win situations are surefire ways of keeping happy customers.
There are other ways of being transparent and retaining customers. These include sourcing feedback and acting on that feedback, even if it’s negative. Being consistently reachable is also essential to many consumers. Lastly, providing top-notch service is the best way to retain customer loyalty and make your business one of the few that stick in consumers’ minds and remain relevant year after year.
Starting a business and keeping that business afloat is challenging. Gaining and retaining customers is one of the most challenging parts of running a business. But, if one can establish a consistent record of excellent service and transparency, loyalty will be sure to follow.