In the On-Demand Economy, Training Is Key to Moving Users through the Onboarding Funnel

May 17, 2016

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Businesses typically analyze conversion rates by calculating the number of potential buyers who sign contracts and then become repeat customers. Everything about the company’s marketing aims to convert leads into loyal clients by guiding them through a sales funnel.

Sharing or collaborative economy model enterprises like Uber and Airbnb measure customer conversion rates in much the same way. Yet given the importance these companies place on partnering with external providers that actually perform the service, that same funnel model can be applied to attracting and retaining a competent and brand-worthy contractor workforce.

Make no mistake: sharing economy platforms are in a desperate fight for contractor talent. So steering potential providers through the contractor-hiring channel determines the success of your sharing economy enterprise.

At every stage of the funnel, the platform performs a series of training sequences based upon where the provider is. The aim is to have providers progress through the funnel effortlessly and quickly, so they can start earning for themselves and for the platform. At no point should the lack of training or ineffective training mean they exit the process.

Related reading: Why Sharing Economy Companies Require On-Demand Training Solutions

Here are the six stages of the contractor training funnel — from onboarding and application to training and retention — as your prospective providers encounter it.

Stage 1 — Awareness: “Tell me about your platform.”

Raising awareness of the brand starts with targeting potential contractor talent through social media campaigns and other marketing tactics. That’s the first step in pushing these prospects to visit the platform.

Once potential providers log on, they’ll want to know more about the platform’s brand values, how it works on a daily basis, and most important, the skills and duties expected of a contractor.

High-level and inspirational training is involved here. You want to inspire people to join the platform by showcasing the benefits of coming aboard, such as the freedom to set their own schedule and the earning potential. Instruct them, either through short videos or bits of text, on how to use the platform to better their lives.

They’ll also want to know how to deal with any potential pitfalls — what to do with an unruly consumer, for example. Using training to reassure potential contractors about those questions at this stage not only gives them the necessary foundation for success but also underscores your commitment to education and supporting them on the platform.

Stage 2 — Application: “Yes, I’d like to apply.”

Use the application stage to do more than just have the contractor fill out forms (although that’s necessary). Undertake an initial pre-screening to see if this individual is a good fit. Because the the background check phase can be drawn out and expensive, platforms can manage their investment here. Some light training or quizzes can be an effective way to pre-qualify the provider. The answers will tell whether this person would be an appropriate brand ambassador or not.

Stage 3— Activation: “I want to get started.”

Once the application and screening process is complete, the contractor’s next step is to start using the platform to provide services and, of course, earn money. The activation stage is where the training becomes more detailed, because you don’t want providers to get confused about their role and bounce from your platform now.

As they get closer to providing the service, they have more practical concerns that you need to address before moving forward, such as the logistics of sharing an asset with someone else.

The goal of the activation stage is to ensure that providers feel comfortable enough providing the service. If applicable, the provider needs to know how to craft a compelling profile or listing to attract consumers. At this stage you also want to ensure that the provider knows the best way to interact with consumers to provide a consistent brand experience.

Stage 4 — Retention: “I’ve done my first job! How can I grow?”

After that first successful interaction, the provider is hungry for more knowledge. They want to know how to grow that first assignment into the next 100. At this point in the cycle, they need insight about best practices so they can ensure a consistent brand experience on every job.

Remember, training in the sharing economy model is voluntary. So motivating providers to undertake instruction means the learning must be engaging and have a direct impact on their bottom line. During a recent business trip to San Francisco, I spoke to a Lyft driver who told me his earnings had increased after extra training. Demonstrating to providers how training boosts their earnings is one way to motivate contractors to take the instruction.

Utilize training as a retention tool as well. Keep them on the platform by constantly offering more and more instruction.

Related reading: Why the On-Demand Economy Treats Provider Training As Mission Critical

Stage 5 — Remediation: “I got a bad review. How can I improve?”

Even the best performing contractors stumble at times, which can be especially harmful to a sharing economy business that relies on contractors to serve as the face of the platform. One bad experience can sour consumers on the brand. So if a provider receives too many bad reviews, your platform can strongly suggest the provider take remedial instruction — or be temporarily disbanded from the platform.

Continually signing up new contractors when current ones falter is unsustainable. The turnover costs are too high. Yet it must be made clear how what they are doing is detrimental to the brand values and what they need to do to ensure a consistent and pleasant consumer experience.

The goal here is to help providers return to the platform and to earning money. I liken this remediation phase to contacting customers who may have fallen out of the sales funnel to get them up to speed again.

Stage 6 — Mentorship: “I want to help others.”

Experienced and successful platform partners are a valuable training resource for new providers. They can encourage and guide prospective providers through the application and activation stages and impart their real-life knowledge and skills to those new to the platform.

These top providers need training as well on how to be a mentor. So connect them with new providers either directly, through social media or by having them post how-to videos. Reward them for their mentorship by highlighting their exceptional skills on the platform, which, in turn, brings more business to them.

Facilitating this provider funnel is a learning solution integrated within the entire sharing economy platform. Onboarding and training are deeply embedded within the platform, not separate from one another. For that reason, sharing economy enterprises require a learning platform easily incorporated into all of the platform’s functions, everything from marketing to HR.

The learning solution provides an easy-to-use, frictionless experience for the provider at every stage. The applicant or the contractor must always feel they are within the platform's brand experience and have seamless access points. It’s at the provider’s fingertips 24/7, just as it is for the consumer.

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