1 Hour Response Time…

kostlover
kostlover Posts: 6
edited August 26 in Inspiration

I am an Organizer. I am blessed with the Leads and referrals that I receive from Thumbtack, and I work 5-6 days per week. Lately, I have worked many 12 hour days. As an Organizer, (and I am sure other Pros in similar fields can relate) we work side-by-side with our customers. When I receive a lead request, I immediately need to pause what I am doing, and respond as quickly as possible. My responses are tailored to the type of request that I receive. Each request is different when it comes to organizing. Thumbtack has made more changes related to fees, leads, what we can request a refund for, direct deposits, targeting, payment systems for the customer, and finally the Rewards System then a Pro can possibly keep up with. I have been with Thumbtack since its’ inception into the L.A. area. The response time was always within 4 hrs until someone thought of the 1 hr response time (75% of the time) in order for us to reach the Platinum level. Several fellow Organizers that I know, left almost immediately after that. We have had to adapt to change-after-change, but by far, a 1 hour response time in order for me to reach Platinum, maintain the 1 hr response rate 75% of the time (so we can speak with a support specialist) was the single most frustrating request of all. Has anyone had the experience of having to tell a customer that they are working with, that they need to stop for a few minutes to respond to a Lead request, or they will not meet the percentages set by Thumbtack for the response time? I have had several who are not happy at all, with being told that I have to interrupt my work with them, in order to respond to the request. I can’t use a canned request system from Thumbtack or any other service because they are tailored to the request. Does anyone else go through this? I am so appreciative for the leads, but Thumbtack’s reward system cannot be maintained by Pro’s who work one-on-one with clients like me. I also work in very remote areas where I don’t have reception (customers have not set up their WiFi yet) until I get close to a cell tower. I don’t receive the lead requests for hours because of this. Just wondering if anyone is going through similar experiences and how you are handling this.

Thank you!…🙏🏻😊

Comments

  • WDodson
    WDodson Posts: 17

    If I'm working on a ladder or under a house, or painting while racing the sun, it's going to be really hard to stop and respond to anything, especially a TT lead where may only have a 20% chance of winning that lead. But from the customer perspective, getting a response within an hour must be really impressive. I'd love to avoid getting degraded though -- an hour is not much time. Maybe an auto response mechanism that says basically you'll get a call back at a specific time??

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 599

    @busyb as a fellow organizer do you have any advice for this pro? @ShaquealThomas as someone who works on ladders a lot, do you have any suggestions! @Mage as a pro who is constantly working side by side with your customers, do you have any tricks to share? Thank you!

  • kostlover
    kostlover Posts: 6

    Thank you WDodson for your response. I truly appreciate it.

    The problem has become that people are now expecting these response times and I feel that we have created a monster.

    Four hours can be hard enough, but placing us in a position where we know if a Pro does not answer within an hour, that it will affect our response times and where we stand in the rewards status, places an undue added amount of stress upon us. With technology at everyone’s fingertips, it is pushing everyone to expect more and more, such as now having us respond within an hour or we have the added stress of knowing that we are penalized. It has gone from four hours to an hour, and will this be pushed to 30 minutes? I just feel like if we keep allowing this to happen, people will come to expect it and we are allowing it to happen.

    I feel it is important to have feedback from the Pro’s before making crucial adjustments and changes like this. It impacts everyone and I feel that it needs to be kept reasonable.

    Why did it jump from 4 hours to 1 hour? That is a huge jump, especially for the Pros that are working one-on-one with clients like WDodson - a painter who is high on a ladder working against the heat of the day. There are so many other Pros in different fields that are affected by this. It is very very difficult to keep up with all of the constant changes to response times, refunds (what we can/cannot obtain a refund for) the rewards system, auto-deposits and now auto-payments from customers. There is a constant stream of making everything immediate and we need to have some control as a small business owner.

    Change for any company is good, but in moderation and definitely with feedback from those it impacts the most.

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 599

    @kostlover @WDodson I think it will be valuable to hear what other pros have to say about solutions to the issue at hand - as I know each of the pros I tagged in have dealt with this and have found ways to succeed! But, while we wait I will say:

    I understand that change can be fatiguing and as a former business owner, I feel you. I can assure you that none of the changes made are done without a significant amount of research and feedback. As far as the response times go - it is largely due to the fact that customers are significantly more likely to hire a pro when they hear back within that first hour (I can't remember the statistic, but I can find it!). That has not changed recently, though - it's been a year or so since that requirement changed.

    I know it can be difficult to respond quickly while on the job (I tagged in those other 3 pros, because I know they have each used different solutions for this), but there are resources available to help you out with that. You can use the save my replies feature - which isn't a perfect solution, but allows you to at least "answer" the customer and let them know you are on the job, but will get back to them as soon as possible. We also have Front Desk which helps with quick replies (I think the average is within 2 minutes) day or night.

    Honestly I think this is just the world we live in now, where people expect a fast reply... not just with Thumbtack, but with everything. I am happy to hear your feedback, though, as I work directly in the Thumbtack Pro Rewards program. Would love to hear what other thoughts you have about Thumbtack Pro Rewards - any rewards you have liked or would like to see?

  • Mage
    Mage Posts: 71
    edited August 31

    I answered via video–sorry if I talked too much (over 6 minutes)! 😆 But I truly do feel your concerns.

    Here are the two main strategies that I use to combat "chasing leads burnout" because let's face it: we cannot get all of the leads! 😎

    • Front Desk – Worth every penny if you ask me!
    • Hide My Business – Sure, I will be missing out on leads, but like I say in the video, there is no point in paying for a lead if I cannot answer them in 2 minutes or less (I know...sounds bad, but people expect pronto responses these days, and I have lost business as a result of that, but it's life!).

    I go into detail about how I think that having a status update on Thumbtack can help; for example, beside our profile picture, it could say "this Pro is currently with another client" or "this Pro is currently outside of their business hours."

    I have so much more to say, but I will just leave it at this for now...I said a lot in the video!

    ❓ Does anyone pay other employees to answer Thumbtack leads for them? If so, how is this working for you? Is it worth the investment? How did you train them?

    As for me, I am just a one-person business, and I know that my service is available via big box stores and other corporations including online ones. Sometimes I feel too much like a "little guy," but I am trying! 💪🏽

    Keep up the spirit, and let me know your thoughts! 😎

  • @WDodson @kostlover I completely understand where both pros are coming from as a painter it is difficult one of my main tips is what @Mage pointed out hiding my business when I am not available to answer the leads it helps not waste money or miss out on any potential leads.

    having a set greeting message helps me as well I have one for the morning afternoon and evening just to get the rapid response reply out of the way making sure notifications is on so I am aware as soon as the lead comes to send out that message.

    I am currently training someone to help me when Im on the road or long work days just to send out a greeting message manually and than I can pick back up where they left off when I am free I hope some or all of these strategies help out I will give a update on the training after this week.

  • WDodson
    WDodson Posts: 17
    edited August 31

    @Mage , @DustiO , @ShaquealThomas

    Super helpful information, links, insights, tips.

    Two years ago when I set up my Google Business Profile I INSTANTLY got a call from Home Advisor. They high-pressured me for weeks. Their pitch was simple: You will win every lead if you simply reply within 1 hour. That's it. That's what TT (and us) are up against. I will try using the tips and features noted in the thread.

    My newest tactic is to reply ASAIcan, and then send the lead a text directly to their cel phone number, saying I responded on Thumbtack (in more professional words). This seems to help me secure more leads and keep the convo in one place, and visible/backed-up up by TT.

    Thank you all; agree with you all, and I'm glad to be learning more every week.

  • Mage
    Mage Posts: 71

    @ShaquealThomas thanks so much for your insights. I would love to be able to have Front Desk send different greetings at different times of the day, if that is even possible! 🤩 But for now, at least in my industry, only one response is allowed. Without Front Desk, I lose out on the lead as my field (music lessons) is highly competitive. I am curious about how you train and find someone trustworthy and reliable. I have tried teaching assistants before, but a lot of them are students and are too busy to do what I need, and the training would be too time-consuming for me.

    @WDodson yes there are competitive lead sources, though in my field, they are from Lessons.com and others like Musika and TakeLessons, though the last two are not too good because they force you to use their payment platform and take a huge cut forever (ongoing as long as the student remains your client!). I actually employ the same strategy: 1️⃣ Front Desk answers for me, 2️⃣ I answer via Thumbtack using a short personalized greeting, 3️⃣ I send a SMS to the customer's cell letting them know to look on Thumbtack for the responses as I agree with you: keeping the conversations in Thumback keeps it more secure and backed up! 😎

    I am looking forward to see what others think about these challenges. We really do need to pace ourselves as Pros while keeping up with the modern demands of society, but it's so important to take care of our health!

  • busyb
    busyb Posts: 18

    Thanks @DustiO as always for bringing me into these conversations. @kostlover it seems that everyone else has pretty much answered the same as I would but I am going to really stress utilizing Front Desk. It was a game changer for me when I was told about it during the Beta phase and I do believe still gives me a significant leg up to other organizers on Thumbtack in my area. My auto response includes a link to my contact form which most people do fill out without me having to ask repeatedly. I think if you just say "I'm with a client and I'll get back to you ASAP" they will move on to the next Pro but asking them to actually take action seems to work for me. I also follow up with a direct text ASAP, usually within 30 minutes. My clients know that my business relies on my ability to communicate with other clients sometimes when I am with them ... I state it in my contract ... and not one has ever complained. So I would try that approach and see if it helps. All that said, I do occasionally have leads that get my auto response through Front Desk and within a minute I also send a text and they respond back "I've already found someone". Not sure how that happens so fast but I try not to sweat it too much. My leads are generally less than $20 so in the grand scheme of things I just consider it as a cost of doing business and move on. Meanwhile, if you ever need an extra set of hands for jobs when I am in SoCal I would be happy to help. My brother is moving from N Hollywood to Oxnard next week so I will more than likely be based there when I come although I have friends from Sherman Oaks to Newport that I can stay with and be positioned closer to jobs as needed. Feel free to reach out if you want to talk more about any collaboration😊

  • WDodson
    WDodson Posts: 17

    Love your idea, Mage, of making our google calendar visible in some fashion to the TT system. I know it might be somewhat redundant but it's a google calendar world

  • busyb
    busyb Posts: 18

    @WDodson and @Mage I was just thinking about how it would be great to have our calendars sync with Thumbtack. I think though TT first needs to figure out a better way of leads requesting dates that doesn't leave it so open ended when they check off "pro can suggest other dates". That's basically into perpetuity so even if I have the next month completely blocked off on the TT calendar I still get leads that want my services on dates that were blocked and therefore have to request a refund which sometimes I don't get for whatever reason. Maybe having more options like any date within the next week, two weeks, month, 3 months??? Seriously, I get so many last minute requests but can't fulfill them so not only has my time been wasted but so has the client's.

  • Mage
    Mage Posts: 71

    @busyb I am with you! I often have dates that are not immediate. My priority is to take repeat clients because in my music education world, committed students take lessons for years. If only I could somehow find a way to find "serious clients," but that's another story! 😆 For now I will keep trying to sell the excellence in quality that I provide.

  • busyb
    busyb Posts: 18

    @Mage your profession clearly thrives on regular clients but mine are often 1 and done. My goal is to always set my clients up for success so they never need me again. My father thinks that is a terrible business model but he doesn't realize there is never a shortage of clients needing home organizing and move management assistance. I know there is a lot of competition out there but that is the reason I have focused my energy on TT and gave up on all of the other platforms like Angie's List, Yelp, etc. It really has proven to be the best platform outside of my social media presence and referral network but I know other organizers that have said they thought TT was a total waste. To each his/her/they own ✌️

  • Mage
    Mage Posts: 71

    @busyb that might explain why my leads typically cost significantly more! 😆 But the cost varies quite a bit in my industry, at least for me. When I used to do tech support for a living (I kind of still do! 👩🏻‍💻), I hoped that the client would contact me once and have everything fixed in one go, kind of like your organizing service. I actually feel like organizing, handy work, and housecleaning are jobs that will never go out of style. During challenging financial times, such as our current inflation, the arts are the first to go. I too gave up on the other platforms for the same reason! 😎 🙌🏽 That and most platforms depend on in-person services, and I am currently doing most of my work remotely. I think that professionals can decide what platform works best for them. 💕 And yes, with music instruction, it takes months, years to develop serious skills, and now my goal is to find 12 new students to fill my Music for Young Children classes. A dream for a qualified music teacher is to have students that stay with us for over 10 years.

  • busyb
    busyb Posts: 18

    @Mage have you ever considered offering classes at your local community centers, places of worship, etc.? Or at the very least advertising in their newsletters? They are usually pretty cheap ads but have a wide reach right in your geographical area.

  • WDodson
    WDodson Posts: 17

    I'd like to second the hassle of requesting a refund for a "didn't get job" lead, where I had blocked out time in TT and I paid for that lead anyway. I didn't even get the opportunity to say "I'm traveling" (within one hour haha 😀) and then TT system didn't have my back.

    Also agree that TT overall seems like the best for my way of working, vs Angie and the others I've looked at or tinkered with (like Porch).

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 599
    edited September 1

    I truly appreciate all of the comments, tips, tricks, and advice that have been shared in this thread. THIS is why we are here. Thank you to all!

  • @mage @WDodson @busyb @DustiO @kostlover this was amazing I am happy we all came together!

  • Mage
    Mage Posts: 71

    @busyb I used to teach some lessons in-person, but ever since the pandemic, almost all, if not all, of my lessons are taught online, with the exception of select performances, festivals, and recitals. My local community is not as musical as some other places here in LA County, but I volunteer at two music teachers associations, teach at the college, and I am a member of the local chamber of commerce. I found that driving took so much time, and I prefer teaching from my home studio (imagine driving in 109º weather and lugging all the equipment! 😆 🥵). I could try advertising locally again to see if it works, but so far I am just using social media for that...and of course Thumbtack, which now allows me to bid for higher priced leads in areas outside of my community! 🤩 Thank you so much for the tip–I might see if it is feasible to advertise in my community or possibly in other communities if they let me! 😎

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 599

    Love all of these comments!!

  • Thank you ALL for your comments. I just had the opportunity of reading them and I was so touched by the honesty of them. We all work so hard and many times our families a heavy sacrifice for this, but this is what it means to be a small business owner.

    Mage - have you thought about contacting the local middle and high schools in your area? Middle school students are beginning musicians and they have little to no experience. I had two of my children that could have used someone like you to get through that first year of music and beyond. All they want to do is learn their instrument and stand out for their achievements. They were so deflated when they felt they were not learning quick enough. When I contacted a couple local instructors for tutoring, they were priced way out of what I could afford at the time. Just a thought....

    BusyB - Your responses closely relate to what I am going through. I too have been chasing away the other local platforms such as Home Advisor (they were relentless for awhile) Yelp (their contacts have picked up significantly because I have had a lot of requests come through Yelp) to pay for advertising...did you know that Yelp has begun a lead program just like Thumbtack? No matter how many times I tell them that I am blessed with all of the work that I can handle, they continue to contact me to purchase advertising. I have turned away Task Rabbit and Houzz, but many are relentless in their attempts to have me switch because they will offer us more clients

    The main problem with having Front Desk handle my responses, is that nearly every request is different. You were spot on with the fact that a client does not want to hear that we are with a client and we will get back to them shortly. They quickly move on to the next Pro. A lot of my work is with clients who are living with special needs and I need to properly respond to this. I want to thank you for all of your suggestions and support. Most of my family (and myself) live in Oxnard, Camarillo or Ventura and have been since 1890. Your brother will love it here.... I hope that you enjoyed your visit!

    I just posted another discussion item. On Sept 1st, I was awarded another 3 months of Platinum. When I logged in today, it had been changed to a Gold status. There were no emails, no explanations, no apologies...it was just changed I felt that all of my work and efforts were just taken for granted. I am very frustrated with the Rewards System and how it has impacted me as well as many other Pro's. It went from a 4 hour response time to 1 hour without any input from most of the Pro's. I truly appreciate all of the business from Thumbtack, but it is a constantly changing environment to keep up with. Refund methods constantly change, deposits, payments, rewards....and we usually are not aware of it until it impacts us directly.

    I love my work and what it does for others, especially those who I help with Special Needs. I just do not know how to respond to what happened to me today.

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments. I absolutely appreciate all of the time that everyone put into their responses and many of them have been helpful. Pro's have so little communication with each other and this has been a great forum to have a place to open up with problems we are having. Thank you!!!.....🤗

  • Mage
    Mage Posts: 71

    @kostlover Thank you so much for your insight too! 🤩 That is disappointing to be downgraded from one tier to another despite improving your response times. And I had no idea about Yelp offering a leads generation platform. Yelp used to work well when I was teaching in person, but now that I teach mainly online, their service does not really help me get the customers that I need. In fact, their salespeople would frequently insist that I can get clients through their platform, but I just recently attended a Yelp webinar, and one of their leaders admitted that their platform works best for storefront businesses and that it's not as effective for online businesses. So that explains why my ads were costing a lot but generating pretty much nothing! 😆

    In my local area, most of the music teachers undercharge, but also there aren't too many qualified independent music teachers here either, so I might have a leg up in some ways. Also many people cannot afford music lessons, so when we do teach at the schools, we are often doing it on a volunteer basis. Some of the schools can only get music classes once or twice a month rather than every week as they should be. But that's a good point–there are probably students who need private tutoring and hope to win festivals/competitions, and that's something I can totally help with. Since I know quite a fe teachers in the area, I can always reach out to them again. Thanks for the tip. 😎

    I agree with you on the Front Desk front, pardon the pun there! And I deliberately turn off my Thumbtack (hide my business) when I don't wish to receive leads because I don't want to receive leads unless I can give them my full undivided attention. Unfortunately, a lead came in just before my lunch break today, so I ended up spending my break trying to get to know the lead and to get them to sign up. Turns out they were more interested in in-person music lessons than online, and even my lowest tier tuition plan price point was too high for them. At least they appeared grateful in our interaction, and I gave them referrals to various resources. I always try to help everyone who reaches out to me, even if they don't sign up. 😎

  • Mage
    Mage Posts: 71

    P.S. @kostlover I used to teach in Oxnard and Ventura, and I know a music teacher who lives in Camarillo! 🤩