Rachel Botsman - 23.05.2012
Part two of Rachel Botsman's blog on building successful Collaborative Consumption platforms. The first blog, Critical mass and scale, can be read here.
Sticky user experience
Design and user experience are absolutely critical in building a successful and distinctive Collaborative Consumption platform and strong community of early-ambassadors, yet it is often overlooked in favour of optimum functionality or speed-to-market.
Here are my key takeaways (and insights shared by Jonathan Simmons from www.publiczone.co.uk on the topic) in figuring out what users want, and designing the right experience around it:
Case study: Airbnb founders, Brian, Nate and Joe, spent a lot of time in the early days staying with hosts to understand what they liked and disliked about the service. One of the key insights they uncovered was that people wanted their spaces to look really good on the site but that taking photos was often not their forte. The insight led to the company introducing free professional photography which immediately improved booking rates. The quality of images has also become integral to their user experience - their site feels like flicking through a beautiful travel magazine.
Without a doubt, the number one question I am asked is,"what is the most important ingredient in making Collaborative Consumption work? It all comes down to trust. There are actually three levels of trust organizations need to build.
1. Trust in the idea itself: Many Collaborative Consumption ideas are new to people and often require a change in behaviour. Figuring out how to lower the perceived 'risk' and transparently dealing with people's fears is critical.
2. Trust in the organization. Peer-to-peer marketplaces typically enable exchanges directly between parties but the trust of the middleman still matters. Users need a clear understanding of the service you offer and what you will do if things go wrong. As an organisation, be upfront and transparent about the all the "what happens if?" scenarios and deal with incidents proactively.
3. Trust between users: One of the key reasons why Collaborative Consumption is taking off now is because social, mobile and location based technologies create the social glue for exchanges to take place between relative strangers. Here are a few things to consider when addressing peer-trust:
Case study: Whipcar
In 2008, when neighbour-to-neighbour car sharing leader Whipcar first came up with the idea for their venture, the initial reaction was similar to something I hear often "that's a crazy idea!" What happens if someone crashes my car? What happens if they steal it? After extensive user research founders Vinay and Tom realized that the most important piece of reputation information for users was "would drivers would rent from this owner again?" and the flipside "would owners rent their car to this borrower again?" so they designed their rating system around this golden rule. To increase trust in the idea and Whipcar the company, they also created of a custom insurance policy for members with Lloyds TSB, an established brand that lent them credibility.
Read part one of this blog: Critical mass and scale