First, I applaud TT for trying new things. I'm not sure if a major orgnization makes as many changes as quickly as TT.
That said, the new way of doing business makes no sense. It has taken virtually all of the strategy, skill and timiliness out of the equation. Repeatedly through other discussions, TT moderators focus on how it's on "you" to make your profile noticeable--through reviews, hires, timely responses, and--incredibly vaguely--the experience the customer will likely get.
Sounds good in theory, but ultimately, there does not seem to be any particular reason why someone is listed #1 vs. #2 and so on.
So, my first question is how does TT actually define a "good experience?" How could they possibly know what experience the customer could want based on no other factors given when searching for a pro. As I can only speak from the personal training category, you can find "pros" in the area, which makes sense. How they are ranked flies in the face of any other advertising platform.
It's a good sound bite to hear things like (paraphrasing) "we want to reward the best pros, not just those who want to pay the most?" Why reinvent the wheel that literally ecery other marketing platform uses?
OK, but as a business, aren't the pros who value the customer/lead the most (i.e. willing to pay the most) most likely to provide the best experience to the customer?
Lastly, as the subject heading states, this new model now removes any of the skill/strategy involved, other than a "faster response." We simply had our voices silenced and no longer compete for anything.
IMO, this reduces the value to the customer (and to the pro) substantially because if they pick one pro and that pro decides not to reply, not a single other pro even knows they exist and may actually be able to help them. Not only that, but TT also loses on the revenue that pros like me are happy and willing to pay because we see the value.
An argument can be made that even though customers don't pay anything to use TT, their concerns should come first. Without a user/customer base, no more pros would sign up and previous pros will look to greener pastures.
This model severely limits the opportunities for everyone, including TT. To be honest, while instant match and the old quoting system was still in place, I was praying that TT would increase the prices for quotes so it would eliminate those that either didn't use it as intended or didn't value it enough.
I'm not advocating that the customer's concerns should be ignored, but the first sign of it getting out of hand originally was sending 15 quotes. That was just silly, and likely drove customer's crazy getting multiple messages from up to 15 people. Instead of employing laws of supply and demand (by making the original 5 quotes more expensive to the pros), TT tore down the entire system and started over. Why?
Ultimately, it's clear that this new style does more harm than good for all three parties--the customer, pro and TT. I couldn't even imagine what I would expect as someone started their Pro account yesterday. If the customer experience is paramount, how can they even compete to any degree? Further, "promoting" your business even with an unlimited budget won't get you on the field, and I say that from direct experience to test things out.
Again, I do applaud TT making cnanges, but the "shoot first, ask questions later" approach in this case backfired. It's a less desireable product by a tremedous amount to me now.
It's OK for a business to make money and TT should embrace this while not alienating the very people who provide it--the pros. The old system was fine and likely needed refinement throughout other industries, but replacing the entire system was a miscalculation of enormous scale as it now creates a vacuum for other platforms such as Bark and TaskRabbit.
One last thing, while I'm at it: Much of the concern from the pro standpoint, in my opinion, is from the vague "our algorithm looks at these 5 things." If we knew what it is, we'd be able to maximize our results. I would imagine that in order to consider something a "good" customer experience, the ratio between Leads and Hires would be a decent place to start. Then it would at least make sense, even if it's hard to accomplish. If a new Pro started their profile today, it would almost be an impossible position because there is no data whatsoever to consider, even if that Pro is outstanding.
@WerkFitnessSD thanks for sharing your point of view and questions on these topics.
Hoping that I can help clarify how ranking is calculated. After those 5 main points I've listed, if a customer adjusts filters in their search then different pros may show up or be removed from the search based on the preferences they've set through promoting. The number of hires does not factor into where a pro will show up in ranking, although if they have a large number of hires, then they likely have a similar number in reviews.
I know there have been a lot of changes and it can be hard to keep up. Just know that these big updates certainly weren't from a "shoot first, ask questions later" approach. We don't make these updates without heavy consideration and research to back them up, and they are all in an effort to make Thumbtack that much better. Our CEO; Marco, actually spoke to the number of updates we've been making and admits that we can be better at keeping pros in the know in our recent live Q&A if you hadn't seen it already. There are many things that our teams are working on to resolve a lot of the pain points that the pros are reporting. Keep an eye out as we continue monthly product update posts.
As for why we've moved to this new system I recommend checking out a post from @MR where he highlights a post from Jason about that same topic HERE.
Since the new updates, we've seen a healthier and stronger marketplace overall and that the new system is working better for a higher number of customers and pros. That said, we know the system isn’t perfect yet, and there are pros letting us know. Just know that we're not finished yet, and as that happens we've been forwarding pro feedback and their experiences in order to make it better. Remember that improving Thumbtack takes time. So we ask for your patience as we work through your feedback and make improvements to this new system.
@Kameron In response to @WerkFitnessSD 's post, you referenced one of my previous posts as if to suggest that I endorse the changes that were made in the system and am happy with the results. In your post you said "As for why we've moved to this new system I recommend checking out a post from @MR where he highlights a post from Jason about that same topic HERE. "
Just to be crystal clear, nothing could be further from the truth. I am in the camp that the changes have destroyed things for me.
Although I did quote your past post outlining the changes, the substantive point of my post was to inquire if TT is re-thinking the strategy that is not working in many of their customer's experience.
To re-state, I said the following:
On January 30, 2019 you made the following update post regarding the system changes. In this post you asked for feedback on how pro's thought it was going. Since then, the sentiment on these boards and throughout the internet has shown that significant re-work is needed.
Would you like to update this message so that we can see where things stand today in the eyes of Thumbtack? Unfortunately the MarcoZ webinar left us wanting more information as it was extremely high level and vague.
As we have options, an update will be helpful as pros make business decisions on where to source leads as we head into the warmer months where many will be seeing an more active enviornment as the number of weddings, proms, remodelings, outdoor projects, etc. increase.
@Kameron Thank you for such a quick response to my post!
There seems to have been an update last night, which is that the actual profile photo of the pro is being shown again in the search results, rather than just one of the uploaded images. Is that the case?
Secondly, I read the page titled "Improve my profile." Is there other information you can disclose as to what is being considered in the content of the profile itself, such as keywords, or how heavily weighted pictures with captions (versus pictures with no captions) are, or responding to reviews, etc?
To me, the biggest issue with the rollout is the vagueness of how to make the most of it. And I speak from a point of view as if I started yesterday. Pros like me don't know exactly what to do to rank higher beyond just having a complete profile and the 10 reviews. Before, there were so many great articles that effectively said if you do X, Y and Z, then you're likely to get positive results. There was so many great articles on it that those that didn't take the advice rightfully paid the price for it. Now, it seems as though TT has removed our abilities to compete over a job to any customized degree.
Though I have no way of knowing myself, I can only imagine that the number of pros contacted by customers has dropped significantly because while they are presented more profiles earlier in their search, they are given fewer opportunities because they are likely sending fewer messages--which is fine. However, if the pro they chose is either not the right fit or didn't respond at all (or in time), the odds of them restarting the search has to be less. All the while, a pro that would have been the right fit and/or would have responded in time has no idea that the search even took place, resulting in not being able to compete for the job. In this case, the customer and pro both suffer from the experience.
Ultimately, my goal isn't necessarily to go back to the old way--it's to understand how to maximize the new way, which is far more limited. As a pro, we're told how many searches showed our profiles through Insights, or something very close to it. The problem is the pro has no way to actively compete for a job--only to make their profile "stand out."
Effectively, we're now competing for the better rank, not the job itself. The old way rewarded quickness in followup (after the quote was sent via Instant Match), responses to customer questions and the quality of those messages as a whole. Akin to Google search results, the top 3 results have far more clicks than the next 3, let alone the second page of the organic results. And similarly, businesses always want to know how to rank higher in those Google results.
I'm intersted to know some statistics, if they're available. Things such as:
1) How many pros, on average, are contacted with the promoted way compared to how many were contacted the old instant match or manual quoting methods.
2) What percentage of customers do narrow their searches via filter.
3) How many customers restart their search for the same job after contacting at least 1 pro
To put it the simplest way possible, the problem I have is that once the profile is well written with a good profile picture, price listed, 10 reviews are procured and promote is turned on, it's...sit back and wait for a customer to contact you. If a customer sends a message to you, for example, and you don't respond becasue maybe you weren't the right fit, sure, you may drop in rank but the customer still has a need to be fulfilled and they've now already had perhaps a "bad" experience and may be less likely to send another message or use Thumbtack entirely. In that case, everyone loses.
Instant Match had its flaws--namely that there may have been too many quotes (15+) and messages to a single customer. At the very least, though, they had more than one option to choose from pros that valued the opportunity. Most importantly, the pros and customers had that opportunity when it mattered most--at the soonest possible time from when the customer performed the search.
I like to consider the changes Craigslist made last year when they began charging $5 for posts in most categories--it eliminated the spammers entirely. Personally, I would have gladly paid 2, 3, 4 times the amount for a lead on TT because I understand lifetime value of a customer. This new system does reward pros with better profiles, but it doesn't necessarily reward those of us who value (and know) what we're actually potentially buying when we're charged by TT.
@WerkFitnessSD In terms of the photos, it sounds like what you may be referring to is the same as @MR's post HERE. Take a look at the post and my response on the next page and let me know if that's the same thing you noticed.
The things that will factor into your profile score are the same things that we recommend above when viewing your profile I've attached a screenshot of that banner below.
The four levels of profile strength are:
Unfortunately, I don't have any of those 3 statistics to share with you at this time. I will say that responding quickly is also still vital in order to stay competitive and win customers over. We've seen when compared to responding 2 hours or more later, pros who respond within the first 5 minutes see that customers are 50% more likely to respond, and 20% more likely within the first hour. Also, keep in mind that declining one job won't affect your ranking, but the amount of time it takes you to decline a lead in your inbox will factor into your response time. When a pro does decline a lead we'll then show the customer other pros that could likely be a great fit in order to help make sure they find a pro that can assist in completing their project.
Is there any way the background check can be waived for some areas where it is part of the licensing requirement? This is preventing some of us to get to the higest level of profile rank.
For example, as an attorney, we go through a background check process annually with our state supreme court that is far more detailed than the one that you are providing to get and keep our license.
@MR currently there isn't a way to negate the background check or license being listed for pros that may not need to or cannot list them. However, keep in mind that if you're not completing that part of your profile due to the service you provide, then it's likely that neither is your competition that would show up with you in the search results.
@Kameron I totally understand the response time part--that's a given with any lead in any industry because it captures the customer at their highest interest level. I further understand that if a pro doesn't respond in a quick manner, they are penalized (perhaps too strong of a word in this case) through dropped ranking. And that all makes sense.
But the issue, as you stated, is if the pro declines the job, you'll then show them more pros. That would be fine, but it's also possible (and likely) that since the customer is now disappointed that the person they chose is not willing to take them on, how much damage is that doing? Without the statistics behind that, it's at the very least possible that every pro in the search results are penalized because they're not given the opportunity because it requires the customer to essentially begin their search again.
Beyond building a stronger profile, I haven't seen anything that a pro can do to improve their rank, and that's my complaint.
For some context, I own a personal training gym that rents space out to self-employed personal trainers (you'd be able to see how many are on there using my address). I have the vast majority of them on Thumbtack to get their own clients and I help them write their profiles and help them respond professionally to customers. There has been a significant drop over the past couple months, as they're no longer able to use professionalism, timeliness and other intagibles to their benefit. Again, the problem is they can't even say to someone "hey, I can help with the specific problem you have." They can only hope they're chosen by the customer and are at the mercy of where they rank--with no specific answers on how to improve rank. I'm just advocating on their behalf, as well as other pros.
Almost every single article on here points to the profile quality, which many of the successful users on here likely already have. To me, they wouldn't have been very successful on TT if they didn't, let alone take the time to be on here writing messages.
To put it a different way, what can the pro do on their own (other than a complete profile, which should be a given) to get a higher rank to be able to get more messages (and have the opportunities to respond quickly)? It's the age-old question of what comes first, right?--nobody can reply to a message quickly if they're not given a higher rank to get the message in the first place.
I just feel that pros now have their hands tied behind their back without being given information on what they can actively do on a daily basis to improve. It seems like everyone now has to wait for a customer to send a message...and that's all they can do after their profile is complete.