Trust along the Sharing Economy Customer Journey

02.06.2017 Natalya Walker

Trust is key for sharing economy platforms to drive adoption, growth and transactions. In 2016 and 2017 PwC reports pointed out “the biggest challenge for sharing economy organisations if this space is to fully mature: how can they build trust between individuals who may never have met each other before”.

When talking about trust, it is natural to first think about the actual transactions such as payments and committing to a rental. However, fostering trust early in the customer journey is also crucial to get to the transaction stage itself to create confidence in the community. We identify four main trust points in the customer journey in the sharing economy.


Trust Point 1: Initial interaction with the brand

If we map out the customer journey for a sharing economy platform, the first client interaction typically happens when they land on the platform itself or on one of their social media channels. We think that at this stage the company needs to be authentic and needs to tell the users what they stand for, how their value proposition is unique and how they’ll be interacting with the users. Delivering a consistent message will foster trust.

Trust Point 2: Digital reputation

This is a key trust point. Boats are typically a high-value asset and boat owners want to know as much information as possible about the potential renter. On the other side of the transaction, the renter wants to know that the boat owner and the vessel they see exist and that the vessel is in the condition as described in the listing. Users are more inclined to start communicating if they feel they know a little more about who they are interacting with. Fostering trust at this stage is crucial as it will enable the transaction to take place.

This is where reviews and user verification tools come into play. Users are more likely to trust each other and to engage if they can see reviews about the other person along with their social media presence. If a user has good ratings and reviews on Airbnb and has profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn for example, the digital reputation is increased and therefore a user is more likely to be trusted.

As the sharing economy grows and the issue of trust becomes paramount, new companies have emerged that offer verification and review tools by pulling together online data for a user in one single score. One notable company is deemly from Copenhagen. They work with peer to peer platforms to digitise trust. Other methods, such as additional email and phone verification and creation of user profiles, which can be the viewed by users before transaction takes place create and enhance online trust. At boataffair we use both technology and human touch in verifying our users. 

Trust point 3: Payment process

Payment infrastructure is evolving fast to cater for sharing economy platforms. Mangopay, Stripe and PayPal, among others, offer secure solutions that are tailored to the needs of the sharing economy. A strong payment system partner can play an important role in how the customer will trust the platform. This is especially true if things go slightly off course and refunds or cancellations are required. Choosing the right payment system can be key in offering a smooth journey.

Trust point 4: Delivery

On the actual day of the transaction, working together with your stakeholders is key to ensure that the delivery of your product and service is safe and lives up to everybody’s expectation. This will include parties that may assist on the day – in case of a boating platforms it is crucial to include marinas and ports for the handover of the vessel as well as the insurance partner.  The right insurance partner with a customised solution will offer additional peace of mind and increases trust.

It was our goal to point out the main trust points during the sharing economy customer journey, bearing in mind that the combination of initial brand interaction, user verification, digital reputation, a secure payment process together with a strong insurance partner will enable users to trust each other more at different steps of their engagement.


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