RelayRides Consolidates Data, Drives 60 Percent Increase in Approval Rates

The car-sharing company uses data analytics to improve the customer experience.
Customer Experience

When companies can make sense of their customer data, they can drive critical business decisions. RelayRides, a peer-to-peer car-sharing network, grew fast and needed help analyzing and optimizing its data to help make crucial choices regarding its customers' needs.

RelayRides is a car-sharing marketplace that allows car owners to rent out their vehicles via an online platform and takes a cut of the profits. Car owners set their own prices and renters can search a catalog of cars by city or airport and contact the owner directly. RelayRides launched in Boston in 2010 and has since expanded to more than 2,300 cities and 300 airports with thousands of vehicles in its catalog.

As the company quickly grew, it struggled to understand its customer data, which was spread across multiple locations and systems. "We needed to get smarter about the data we collect," notes Andrew Mok, RelayRides' director of business intelligence. "We collect disparate data points like weather-related information and mobile app data to get a full picture of users, but we needed a better way to understand how they interact with RelayRides."

The company turned to business intelligence software provider Domo for help in August 2012. Using the vendor's executive management platform, RelayRides consolidated its marketing, product, and customer data, making it easier for employees to make informed decisions.

One of the metrics the car-sharing company optimized was its request for approval rate. When a renter makes a request, the owner can approve or decline the request. RelayRides noticed last year that the approval rate was not growing and looked into the factors that may have been preventing car owners from approving the requests.

"We did some research and asked car owners why they were declining requests," Mok says. "The number one reason was that their cars were unavailable [at the requested times] and so we worked on improving our availability calendar to make sure renters were able to access the full set of cars that fit their requirements."

The company also analyzed its data to understand how car owners respond to requests. The company found that the owners are more likely to respond to a request when they can do so through multiple channels, such as on mobile devices and desktop sites. RelayRides therefore encouraged car owners to download its app and to accept push notifications so that they could be alerted in real time about incoming requests.

Within a few weeks after implementing these changes, the request for approval rate shot up 60 percent, according to Mok. "We pride ourselves on being a data-driven company and being able to integrate our data sources [e.g., car rentals, app data, desktop information] into one table [i.e., platform] has been a huge help for finding areas that can be improved," he says.

Mok declined to provide the company's total number of users, but noted that RelayRides recently raised a new round of funding, bringing its total to $35 million. RelayRides is using part of that money to better understand its customers.

One of the areas that the company is working on is strengthening its website recommendation engine based on browsing behavior. "You can learn a lot about the type of car people are looking for based on their browsing behavior," Mok notes. "We can use it to recommend cars to other customers like them."