Sharing Economy

A Foundation of Trust Is How the Sharing Economy Thrives

Trust is built on transparency and confidence. If you don't have it, your brand will be hurt.
A Foundation of Trust Is How the Sharing Economy Thrives
Image credit: kieferpix | Getty Images
Guest Writer
CEO of InfoMart
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Like many of you, I absolutely love the sharing economy. Just today I used an Uber lift-riding service, booked an Airbnb house in Cape Town and hired some temporary workers through Wonolo. I trust that my 20-something kids will take Uber or Lyft when they have been celebrating with drinks at night. I trust that the Airbnb house in Cape Town will be clean and safe. I trust that the workers we hired will meet our expectations. 

How did we get to this state of the sharing economy, and how did it become so successful so quickly? It is about convenience, cost and trust in the service. Of those three, I believe that trust is what truly makes the sharing economy -- and any successful business -- hum. 

Related: 3 Ways to Harness the 'New Power' That Let Airbnb, Kickstarter and Other Companies Climb to the Top

Among sharing economy companies, trust is the very core of their business model. It is not limited to a risk-mitigation line item expense. Trust is about being sure that the very best people are fulfilling the promise of your brand service. These trusted folks are the face of your sharing economy brand.

Strategic vetting can bring motivated, qualified and competent workers who burnish your brand. Fail to vet accurately or get it wrong, and you’re likely to get bad publicity and dissatisfied customers who take their business elsewhere and trash your brand on social media.

The following eight tips for an effective screening program come from our work with dozens of executives at sharing economy companies who detailed their requirements, their challenges and their processes. 

1. Accuracy.

This is the core of a vetting service. The results must be accurate or huge mistakes will cost you. Imagine missing a person’s sexual offender record or DUI conviction, and then having that person drive your 8-year-old son or daughter to school. Imagine allowing a known terrorist to be a visiting professor at your college. Unfortunately, these scenarios have occurred, resulting in victims who have suffered tremendously. Trust is built on transparency and confidence. If you don’t have it, your brand will be hurt.

2. Applicant user experience.

In order to grow, companies need supply-side and demand-side participants. Some companies only vet the supply side, while others vet both supply-side and demand-side participants. If you want supply-side people to provide your brand service, such as drivers, grocery delivery and gig workers, the ability to join quickly and seamlessly is critical. The user experience of onboarding must be as frictionless as possible, and this includes information required for screening. Solutions such as mobile onboarding and entering just a few pieces of personally identifiable information can become a core brand issue.

3. Fast turnaround.

In these times of low unemployment, the onboarding of service people must be as quick as possible. There are screening searches that are immediate, such as searching against sexual-offender or multi-state criminal databases, but there are also manual processes required for checking criminal records in various states or in various countries. Look for screening services that can respond with immediate initial results, then quick follow-ups after validation. Our customers increasingly demand immediate results of database searches, followed by a complete report in fewer than two days.

Related: How Well Do You Know Your Job Applicants? A Four-Stage Approach To The Recruitment Process

4. Customized packages.

Each sharing economy company is a little different, with differing screening requirements. Hiring a driver for a ride-sharing service should include identity, sexual offender, multi-state criminal record, negative watch list, motor vehicle and insurance verifications. Matching a gig economy engineer with a company should include verification of degrees and prior work experience. The requirements are different, and each type of sharing economy company should follow or establish best practices for their requirements. Work with your screening provider to match your requirements to the appropriate screening solutions.

5. Unobtrusive monitoring.

Once you have vetted and hired a participant in the delivery of your brand services, there continues to be a need to protect your brand and mitigate customer risk. Will a driver get a DUI and have their license suspended and their insurance canceled? Will an Airbnb host get convicted for sexual assault? These are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed on a constant basis. Understand your brand. Understand why customers love you, and protect those customers constantly with a monitoring program based on an incident or a calendar schedule.

6. Global trust.

Even if companies aren’t global (yet), they likely are hiring people who have work histories in other countries. Your screening company needs to work globally, too. As sharing economy companies strategize for global growth country-by-country, they need a single platform for the trusted screening of candidates for every country. This platform needs to be automated and ensure that data privacy and best practices by country are built on the single platform.

7. Ideal use of technology.

Accurate results. Applicant user experiences. Speed. Customized packages. Continuous monitoring. Efficient global vetting. It is critical to determine whether your screening provider can deliver all of the above. This includes RESTful API integration with whatever systems are used internally by a sharing economy company. From these basics, scale up in terms of automated rules-based platforms, the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in combination with your own internal data. The most-effective screening programs use multiple data inputs to ensure high-quality, accurate results.

8. Compliance and experience.

There are still no precedents for some areas of screening in this new trust economy, and regulatory battles rage on state-by-state and country-by-country with regards to data privacy rules. In this case, take a conservative approach to protect all parties in the vetting process. Be sure your screening company adheres to such established frameworks as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Make sure that rules are not bent or overlooked by engaging with reputable screening companies, regulatory attorneys and your own in-house counsel.

Related: How Small Businesses Can Survive in the Age of GDPR

As a consumer of sharing economy services and an experienced global expert of vetting people and companies, I am a strong advocate of transparency and trust. I believe in a global trust economy because of its numerous advantages to create employment opportunities and provide greater convenience to consumers, often at a lower cost.

The underlying foundation of this global sharing economy is trust. Screening companies play a small yet vital role in building this foundation of trust.

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