It’s safe to say that the sharing economy thrived in 2017. In the last year, we have moved toward a new model of decentralization. Think about it, Uber is the world’s largest taxi service but owns no vehicles. Airbnb is the world’s largest accommodation provider, yet owns no real estate. These large sharing economy platforms have quickly become the biggest economic powerhouses in the matter of a year. These major companies all depend on one common thing – trust.
Let’s talk about hitchhiking for example. The act of hitchhiking solely depends on trust. Although commonly looked upon as dangerous and old-fashioned, hitchhiking has now made a comeback in the digital age. BlaBlaCar is a long-distance ridesharing platform that connects drivers and passengers willing to share the cost of the trip.
BlaBlaCar conducted a survey of 18,289 of their members across 11 countries in Europe and found that 88% of respondents highly trusted a member with a full digital profile. This percentage was higher than people’s trust in colleagues or neighbors.
So, why are people trusting strangers over people they actually know?
Platforms have come up with ways for users to feel comfortable with doing business with strangers. Here are a few ways to create trust among your users:
- Create a rating and review system – when both buyers and sellers rate one another and these ratings are public to other users, it helps the user decide if they would like to continue business with the seller/host. Going beyond star-ratings and adding a written review also helps the user attain much more information on who they are dealing with.
- Being human – no one likes having to deal with a brand that is robotic, they want to interact with real people. Since sharing platforms are powered by people, a sense of community is crucial. Attentive customer service that asks the user why they may have rated a driver 2 stars is a great way to make the transaction more humanizing.
- Trust in the brand – if the user has trust in the brand, they will be much more active on the platform. One way to create trust in the brand is with a guarantee. For example, Airbnb covers up to US$1 million for each transaction. This guarantee eliminates the risky feeling a user may have when renting out their apartment.
With this new model of decentralization where platforms are fueled on users doing business with one another, the survival of the platform depends on their ability to ensure trust.