6 Ways to gain your customers’ trust in a collaborative economy

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The collaborative economy is booming as we slowly realise that individualism may not be the only way to do business. A number of companies are prospering in this marketplace where participants share access to products or services, including eBay, Airbnb or Zipcar.

Being successful in the collaborative economy is far from an easy task. Indeed, it requires something we are usually reluctant to give that easily – our trust.
Trust is what you need to create real collaboration, but how do you gain the trust of people that you have never met? How can you virtually encourage people to share rides and meals, or rent cars and flats with complete strangers?

Don’t worry, there are solutions! These six rules, directly inspired by the ‘D.R.E.A.M.S’ model BlaBlaCar used to grow their business, will teach you how to create trust between your customers in no time!

1. Authenticate your users

The first step to helping your customers get to know each other is to require them to give basic information about themselves: name, surname, age, plus any extra piece of information you might find relevant to add for your service (allergies or diets for those who share dinners, etc.).

2. Employ a rating system

If your product/service requires your customers to get along, you’d better implement a rating policy which will allow them to distinguish the good users from the bad. A rating serves two objectives: first, it will automatically create the trust you need for your customers to make the most of your product. Reading good reviews about someone will help others trade/share more easily with that person. Second, no one likes a bad review, and your users will consequently do their best to build their own reputation. This might explain why Airbnb has suffered so little trouble with their customers renting flats.

3. Offer secure transactions

The best way to ensure that a transaction is going to go well is to implement features that will guarantee its good processing; allowing your customers to pay in advance for their ride share or the rent of a flat will provide a safety net that will help your users to feel comfortable with your product. Make sure you have a secure payment process in place, such as using a third party service e.g. eBay with PayPal.

4. Let your users be active

Knowing the basics about one user is not enough to know whether he is a good member. Giving data about your users’ activity is crucial to appreciating their trustworthiness: how long one user takes to answer a question, he’s been asked, how many times he connects on your website, and so on, are good pieces of information which other users will analyse before closing a deal.

5. Moderate your users’ information

You get to decide what’s going to be on your website. You don’t want false accounts to be created. Moderate your website and database so that people can be sure that they are dealing with the right person. There are various ways to do so: checking telephone numbers or emails are a simple but efficient way to ensure the good quality of your service.

6. Be social

People love to interact. We all have a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account (if not, create one right away, it’s 2014 !). Linking your users’ profile with their own social networks will allow them to have a voice, interact directly with your service and in turn, will create a mutual trust.

These simple rules are key to implementing a real climate of trust and friendliness amongst your customers. In a survey carried out by BlaBlaCar, the level of trust their users gave to each other reached 4.2 out of 5; the same users gave their own relatives 4.7, and their colleagues only 3.8!

For more information, you can watch BlaBlaCar’s CEO Frederic Mazzella present the D.R.E.A.M.S model at LeWeb.