‘Understanding what makes our customers happy is key’

November 25, 2013 9:40 am The UK Domain

“Spareroom.co.uk was launched in 2004. What started as an online notice board listing rooms for rent became the UK’s busiest flat share website.

It was the brainchild of my friend Rupert Hunt. Rupert believed a website would be the ideal tool for finding house shares. At the time, we were flatmates struggling to find somewhere to live; painstakingly searching magazine adverts and hand-written notes in shop windows.

Choosing where to live is such an important decision in life, so trust is a huge part of what we deliver to our users. Our .co.uk website is relevant to the fact that we are working in the UK property industry, and helps establish us as a trusted British business – everything on the site is designed for people either advertising or looking for a house share in the UK.

The rental market has changed significantly since we started and we now have more than 500 new rooms posted every day. But what hasn’t changed is our responsibility to our users. Understanding what makes our customers happy and making sure they feel safe is down to us, and we think its imperative to consider these four key things:

1. Who are our customers?

With more than 1 million unique visitors a month, there is a danger that people become types rather than individuals. We ensure every visitor is treated as an individual – whether they are advertising a room or looking for one. Each has a unique story as to why they need our website and the more of these stories we hear the better.

2. Where are they?

Our advanced local knowledge gives us an edge. We know half our traffic comes from London so we have localised pages and tools, like displaying rooms by nearest Underground station. We’re a UK company serving the UK market and it’s important for us to be [and to be seen to be] an integral part of that. It’s one of the main reasons we chose a .co.uk domain: we want everyone to know we’re proud to be based in Britain.

3. What do they need?

The three most important things to our users when searching for and advertising a room are safety, trust and removing the stress out of searching. Our online adverts allow customers to compare room details easily by viewing photos, videos and local maps. We use a combination of complex filters and human diligence to keep our users – both landlords and tenants – safe, and we have people in the UK available to answer customer calls and emails everyday. We’ve also seen a huge rise in people taking in lodgers, so we provide a wealth of information on our website and in our newsletters for first-time landlords.

4. When do they need us?

We work really hard to keep listings up to date for those searching for rooms and it’s important our renting information is always current so landlords know where they stand. We also want our users to be able to connect whenever and wherever they want – at home, work or on their mobiles. That’s why we decided to develop a free mobile app. Since its launch it has been the top grossing app download in its category more than once.”

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