Trust is the cornerstone of the collaborative economy. Without the ability of consumers to believe they can trust one another and act on that trust, peer-to-peer marketplaces like Uber, Airbnb, and Mila couldn’t exist.
But what we’ve learned is that trust doesn’t simply happen. In fact, in a recent report on the sharing economy, PWC found that 69% of Americans do not trust sharing economy companies unless they have been recommended by word of mouth. Moreover, it’s not just about trusting the brand. Eighty-nine percent of PWC’s survey respondents also said that the trust lay between the providers on the platform and the consumers using them.
So, how do you create that trust between providers and consumers? It comes down to ensuring the quality and safety of the service providers. Consumers basically want to feel secure that the person who they are asking to do a service, and who may enter their home to complete it, will do the job to a high standard, and will do it safely without harming them.
Here are the main ways that we’ve found to ensure the quality of the crowdsourced services on Mila:
One of the fastest ways to ensure quality is to curate providers. At Mila, we’ve worked with several corporate partners to establish crowdsourced marketplaces to provide an extra level of customer service. Some of our partners will invite customers whom they’ve identified as super customers, or who are already active on their online customer help forums. Some invite retired employees who are already knowledgeable about products. Other partners have also tested the knowledge of their potential providers before they are allowed to begin delivering services.
Rating System with True Identities
Having a rating system is a standard feature of any online marketplace, whether it is peer-to-peer or not. Rating systems let consumers rate both the products on offer, the platform through which the products are sold, and the sellers on the platform. Most rating systems, especially for business to consumer platforms, are anonymous. It’s assumed that it’s unnecessary to use real identities, as consumers put their faith in the brand, rather than in an individual person. One example is eBay, which also uses an anonymous feedback system. But eBay buyers and sellers trade physical goods, and not services, and it’s not a necessity to ever meet in “real life”. Where services are the main product, it’s absolutely necessary to show the real names of the providers if consumers are to feel safe and to trust them. Providers, too, are much more motivated to deliver a high quality experience, as their reputation is on the line. What we’ve also discovered is that using real identities also ensures that consumers aren’t so cavalier about their feedback and that they give more considered comments.
Social Media and Background Checks
Social media checks were one of the original ways that collaborative economy companies tried to ensure that both providers and consumers were trustworthy. Often, providers and consumers had to provide their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to sign up to provide or book services. These checks are still in place, and have proved adequate for a number of platforms. But as the collaborative economy evolves and the more adventurous early adopters give way to more mainstream users, more companies are conducting background checks on their providers. This is true with Uber, for example. Corporate partners, too, are running checks that verify a person is who they say they are.
Building a Community Around Your Crowd
One unique way that partners are ensuring the quality of their crowdsourced services and to reward providers — who are essentially uber brand advocates — is to build a provider community. Some of our partners are ensuring they are sharing with this community the latest products or tech that consumers might then request services around, and even throwing community parties where provider / brand advocates can meet one another and share tips and ideas on delivering a better service.