I hear you MR, we're all in the same boat.
The issue with ghosts was why I started this thread after Marco's Q&A. I wanted to get some acknowledgement from Thumbtack with how they propose helping Pros deal with 'ghosts'. Marco in his Q&A suggested that Thumbtack need to do a better job vetting leads and that they need to look at making good when we get automatically charged for unsuitable or unresponsive leads. No reply yet from any representative of Thumbtack to the question I raised in that thread.
I have Promote switched on, I have my Calendar blocked off for the next two years. I appear in Searches and if a lead reaches out to me I am not automatically charged. I can view an incoming request in my Inbox and choose to either Accept or Decline it. I am only charged if I Accept it. I suggest you do the same.
If I'm ghosted I will use the new online refund system to submit a refund request. MR, write down a list of your 'ghosts' in the last 30 days. Go to 'Payments' and select the 'Help with a charge' link near the top. Go through each invoice for the last 30 days and request a refund for every ghost that you find. If what Marco said about making good on unresponsive leads then Thumbtack should issue a refund. If they refuse then let us know.
Thank you for posting this! It's very in depth and hopefully gets the attention of the proper department(higher ups may be a better choice of words).
Couple of weeks ago, I put Promote on, logged out of my account, and used Thumbtack as a customer. You hit the nail on the head when you said that you understood the system and took the time to navigate. When I used it as a customer, I did it "real time" as a customer would when looking for a reply, and/or other Pros. I never took time to notice the "Confirmed Interest". I'm sure that the majority of customers will not see that either, unless they take the proper time to navigate as you did. I did see "you have a message waiting", though.
But as you @Lar said, a time frame window(4 hours, 12 hours, or whatever) should be in play, so to give us the chosen Pro a chance to reply. Most of us don't have time to sit by our computer and/or phones 24/7. We shouldn't be penalized if we don't reply within a few seconds. Give us the proper time before sending customer additional Pros.
As you said @MR , the Promote Pro isn't necessarily the best. They don't mind paying(have deeper pockets). Some of the best Pros aren't Promoting, and it hurts us, the ones that are or could be the best fit for the customer.
I did notice that my pricing, when I'm shown in Promote results, shows either "starting rate" or "estimate". Customer takes that into consideration, when they are looking for pricing. I was ghosted several times when they asked for my estimate. When I told them my acutual fee, which is in my profile, I never hear from them again. I don't want to be charged for those starters, because the average customer doesn't read a full profile anyway, that's just my opinion. They see estimates and think that is my acutual fee.
So with all this said, I hope that Thumbtack hears all of our suggestions, trials as a customers and Pro, and changes will happen soon, especially if Promote is here to stay.
With all the issues Pros are experiencing with Thumbtack, and following Marco's recent Q&A, I am reflecting upon the nature of the relationship my business has with Thumbtack and I'm very troubled that something is very wrong here.
Just looking at the financial and transactional aspect of my relationship with Thumbtack, in terms of what I pay for and what I expect from Thumbtack in return.
If I'm using Promote and an end-user reaches out to me (thereby becoming a lead) Thumbtack will automatically charge me for providing that lead. That's a financial transaction, I am buying something of perceived value to me, a lead. Every time I pay for a lead (via Promote) it is an automatic investment by ME in MY business. I'm investing real money to obtain access to the lead that Thumbtack provides with with.
By using Thumbtack my intent is to convert as many of the leads I purchase from Thumbtack as possible into customers thereby realizing a worthwhile return on the money my business spends purchasing leads. That's my goal and I imagine most (if not all) Pros that use Thumbtack share that goal.
Thumbtack often say that they want their Pros to be successful. I'm sure that they do, after all they'd be silly not to since their revenue is dependant on Pros willing to purchase leads from them.
However, as well as wanting its Pros to be successful, Thumbtack has two other very important goals...
These two goals are symbiotic. The more end-users that connect to Pros the more profit Thumbtack makes. More happy end-users raises Thumbtack's profile resulting in even more end-users using the platform and therefore more profit.
I think though that these two goals (i.e. maximizing profit and servicing the needs of its end-users) take precedence over any desire Thumbtack has for its Pros to be successful.
Case in point, examine the typical end-user experience.
An end-user visits Thumbtack, they have a job in mind and do a search, they find me, look at my Profile and decide that they want to reach out to me by 'checking my availability'. Thumbtack prompts the end-user to input some details about their job.
As the end of that process the end-user is presented with a confirmation page informing them that the details of their job have been sent to me (remember, I'm the Pro they originally chose). Below that, on the same confirmation page, Thumbtack helpfully provide my lead with a convenient list of my competitors, and suggest that my lead might want to reach out to these Pros also - 'just in case'!
Read that banner carefully - "Reach out to more Pro's, just in case"
'Just in case' of WHAT exactly?
What does that banner suggest to my lead about me?
Just in case Laurence doesn't reply? Just in case Laurence is crap? Just in case my lead doesn't know their own mind and perhaps made a mistake and shouldn't have chosen me in the first place?
Talk about lowering my lead's expectations. This is the exact opposite of what I want my lead to be thinking. I want their expectations to be raised. I want them to KNOW they just made a good choice in picking me. I want them to KNOW they will be hearing from me. There should be no 'just in case'. The selling process began the moment MY LEAD chose ME.
Remember, at this point I have automatically been charged by Thumbtack (because of Promote) for the opportunity to engage with the end-user. They are now MY LEAD, they are an asset that I purchased from Thumbtack and I expect Thumbtack to allow me to derive maximum benefit from that asset.
Maddeningly though, before I've even been notified about my lead, before I've even had any chance to reply to them, Thumbtack presents my lead (the one I just paid good money for remember) with a list of my competitors.
As if that wasn't bad enough Thumbtack then suggest to my lead (yes, the one I just paid good money for) that they should reach out to more Pro's 'just in case'.
How on earth is this information supposed to give me the best opportunity of turning my lead into a customer? Maybe in 'Weebly wobbly pink unicorn rainbow land' this is a proven strategy for my success. I don't like there though, I live in real world.
Seriously Thumbtack, this isn't setting me up to succeed, rather, it is impeding my ability to succeed and enhancing my chances of failure.
Does suggesting to my lead that I might not be the right Pro to service their needs actually help me? No it doesn't. It works against me.
Does presenting my lead with a list of my competitors front and center actually help me? No it doesn't. It works against me.
Even worse, to add insult to injury and further lessen my chances of success, Thumbtack sends my lead a helpful confirmation email, which says...
Stay tuned: Your request was sent to Laurence Francis - The Mind Magician.
Most pros respond within a few hours. While you wait, go ahead and contact some backup pros. It's good to have options, in case your first choice isn't available.
...and again presents my lead with another suggested list of my competitors to contact!
In essence I pay Thumbtack for my lead and then Thumbtack use my lead's interest in me as an opportunity to connect my lead with my competitors.
Can someone at Thumbtack tell me how this interaction with my lead is going to enhance my chances of being hired?
I'm going to go out on a limb here but I think that lowering my lead's expectations and then presenting them with a suggested list of my competitors is going to lessen my chances of success.
I'm sure Thumbtack don't want that for their Pros but unfortunately that's what your platform does. It's the platform you designed to service Thumbtack's goals of maximizing profits and accommodating the needs of its end-users to the detriment of its Pros.
And that's where the conflict lies. My success as a Pro on Thumbtack is secondary to Thumbtack's goal of maximizing profits and connecting its end-users with other Pros.
When I do turn a lead into a customer I'm sure Thumbtack are happy for me. When I don't convert my lead into a customer, and my lead ends up hiring one of my competitors as a direct result of Thumbtack's helpful suggestion that my lead contact other Pros then that's just too bad for me I suppose. No skin off Thumbtack's nose. They connected their end-user with a Pro (that's a win) AND they managed to get more than one Pro to pony up some money (that's another win). It's a Win/Win situation for Thumbtack, a Lose/Lose situation for me.
If my success as a Pro really was a vital cornerstone of Thumbtack's vision for their platform then they wouldn't be encouraging my leads (the leads I paid good money for) to reach out to my competitors in the manner they are doing.
My reality though is that rather than working for me Thumbtack is designed to work against me. Thumbtack by design is clearly focussed on connecting as many end-users to as many Pros as possible (which is good). Thumbtack make more money and service the needs of more end-users this way (also good). Ultimately any small success or benefit I'm able to derive from Thumbtack is purely incidental and secondary to Thumbtack's need to accomodate its end-users and maximize profits (that's bad for me as a Pro).
I'm going to make an assumption. I'm going to assume that Thumbtack recognize that they need to strike a better balance between serving the needs of its Pros, serving the needs of its end-users and increasing Thumbtack's profitability and profile.
I'm also going to assume that as well as recognizing this need to strike a balance that Thumbtack will actively work towards achieving it.
Based on those two assumptions I would like to suggest a few things that Thumbtack could do which would be a step in the right direction.
Ditch the 'Suggested Pros' ploy. If a Pro pays for a lead and that lead wants to reach out to other Pros then the lead can easily use Search if they wish and reach out to other Pros just as they reached out to the Pro they originally chose. Immediately spoonfeeding lead's a bunch of competitors like you do right now is disingenuous to the Pros that paid to obtain the lead. You are immediately devaluing the asset (i.e. the lead) that the Pros are purchasing from you.
Don't use a Pro's lead as an opportunity to promote that Pro's competitors to their lead at the Pro's expense. The Pro didn't pay Thumbtack to do that. I'm sorry, but what you are doing right now is wrong and interferes with the Pros ability to convert the leads they purchase from you.
If a Pro pays for a lead and that Pro hasn't responded to the lead's initial request in a reasonable amount of time (like say 4 hours) then by all means send a follow-up email the lead. It is the Pro's fault that they didn't respond to their lead in a timely fashion - which is unfair to the lead who deserves a quick response to their request. In this case it makes perfect sense for Thumbtack to help the lead connect to another Pro by sending them a list of other Pros that they may wish to contact since the Pro they originally chose did not respond.
Well said and thank you for posting.
Thumbtack: Please do not let my brief reply to this spot-on post be interpreted as simply mild or casual agreement. This post speaks volumes of what is going on.
In my opinion this post needs to be delivered to your senior leadership first thing this morning for their consideration and action.
Very well said. This says what majority of the Pros are trying to say here in the Forum.
This also explains why many of us are ghosted! When they give the customer an option to reach out to more Pros without a time frame for that Pro to reply, what is customer thinking? "Is that Pro not available?", "Is that Pro not the best?", questions to that effect. So customers reach out to more Pros, where those Pros get charged. But we get told that with the new system, customers didn't want to be bombarded with Pros reaching out to them and/or not being heard from Pros, yet it's ok for us to be ghosted.
As @MR said, "this needs to be delivered to the senior leadership first thing this morning for their consideration and action".
I would prefer 24 to 48 hours to respond to a Job Poster Selected You (JPSY) lead [ before TT shoves other Pro's down their throat, or gives other Pro's a chance to bid on the job]. On my website, I advertise that I do not take calls when I work. Would you like it if your Surgeon or Dentist was texting and taking calls while working on you? It would be very easy for TT to suggest that to any job poster.
I posted my interpretation of the relationship between Thumbtack and Pro's in this forum, and was censored.
I am the Admin of an unofficial Facebook group of TT Pro's. Nothing lasts forever. Right now: The game plan of many Pro's is to pray the executives at TT come to their senses. In the meantime, work hard at sourcing work from other places.
I have that TT Widget on my own website. It seems to be a one-way street. I have had people contact me through my website, and because they weren't happy with my price or availability...they went and posted the job on TT because of the widget on my website.
Thank you for the screen shot of the "just in case" text. It reinforces my opinion of the relationship between TT and the Pro's. Many of us were not aware TT was playing that game.
I prefer the term "Job-Poster" to "End-User" it is just more clear.
Many TT Pro's see leads for same day work. Let the job-poster pay a premium for rush work. He receives unlimited responses, and the Pro's pay nothing to bid. TT still gets their revenue.
Reese T. Mar 25, 2019
I believe that there was a discussion in the Forum the other day about a time frame in a thread. Not many Pros are able to reply within a short time frame as Thumbtack suggests because of work, family time, doctor visits, school, or whatever the situation is. A time frame of up to 24 hours sounds reasonable, but I don't think that they understand that, maybe the moderators do but can't admit it, but the higher ups don't understand it.