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Disadvantages with Promote Off - and troubles for consumers

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I have discovered that not using Promote does in fact put you at a disadvantage as you do not get top ranking on the pros selection screen, but the disadvantages are much deeper than that - descending into the depths of what I call unfair and not portraying a level of honesty and integrity that I would expect from a company like TT. TT needs to be open to pros deciding how they want to use the tool - promote On or Off - but needs to be honest in what the pros can expect if they elect to go to Off. And TT needs to be transparanent to its consumers as to who are basically paid ads (aka promote on) and who are not (promote off)

In reality, if you have Promote Off it is unlikely your response to a job will ever be seen or read by a customer.

I did this exercise because TT moderators have told us numerous times to "log in as a customer and see the system from the customer side"... so I did just that.

Here is an example. I have promote off on my pro account.  I created a customer account on TT and created a job for an estate planning attorney. I picked one pro from the list I was given and received a nice response from them in a short amount of time. 

Now, on my pro account I received the job I created on the customer side in my inbox. I did not respond.

Several hours later, I received (on my consumer side) the below pictured email that says that 2 other pros are "interested"  (not that they have responded directly to my job).

email page.png

However, the email does not do a very good job drawing my attention to the fact that 2 other pros responded to my job. In fact, it downplays it in my opinion.  It simply says they "are interested".. so what. I will say if I do click on one of the interested pros, I get to their message... but that relies on a) the email didnt wind up in spam, b) I actually open the emal and dont just scan and delete it c) I actually click on one of the lower "interested" links... honsetly, that is pretty low chance of actually happening.

I move on to my Thumbtack consumer site... I click on my inbox and see this:

Inbox.png

I see the pro that I originally selected, but there is still zero indication that two other pros have responded.

Now I click on the specific job I created and see this:

Inbox1.png

Great, I now see a little bar showing the pro I picked, and 2 pros who have "confirmed interest"  Remember, Here I am a consumer.. I have no idea what that means and probably dont care that they "confirmed interest".. I would love to read their quote, but there is zero indocation here that one has actually been sent to me. 

To actually see that a message was sent to me, I need to jump through 2 more hoops (unlikely the consumer will actually do this) First I need to click on the "interested pro" (why would I do that.. I already picked my pros) and then I have to click on the button that says "view messages"... a button that really gives me no indication that I will see anything directly related to my job.

So yes, the consumer can get to your messages that you send from the Inbox - but it takes a lot of steps and his higly unlikely the consumer will ever notice you sent a message!! Not good for the promote off / unpaid pros.

Now, remember I said that I as a pro never responded to the job I created as a consumer. I wondered... will I see an email when I respond as a pro to my consumer side job request saying "hey.. another pro has just responded to your job?"  So I responded to the job.... nothing, nada, zilch... as a consumer I received zero alert that another pro has responded. I am an unpaid pro (promote off)... but I may be the best pro for the job - but it is unlikely the consumer will ever know I exist... is this really fair to the consumer???

By this point as a consumer I am probably long gone.. found another pro from another site or called my buddy who "knows a guy..."... 

So.. now this is getting a bit odd.. as a consumer I had zero visibility why some pros are getting lower visibility than others and no idea that the ones who are paying for placement are getting priority.. 

I likely had zero visibility that an unpaid pro (promote off) actually sent me a response. 

Most other sites put the word "ad" or some indicator who the paid ads are (promote On) and who are not  (promote off)- and I believe this shows a lot of good faith to their consumers so that they know what thet are looking at and have full transparanecy that the best pro is not necessarily the pro at the top of the list.

Remember - I was able to navigate through this because I understand the system very well... the average every day consumer will a) not have the patience to go through all the steps I went through, and b) will probably not even figure out how to do it.

I welcome comments.

 

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Re: Disadvantages with Promote Off - and troubles for consumers

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Thanks for taking the time to investigate this MR, it is very revealing and gives very useful insight into what the 'consumer' experience is.

You said...

Now, remember I said that I as a pro never responded to the job I created as a consumer. I wondered... will I see an email when I respond as a pro to my consumer side job request saying "hey.. another pro has just responded to your job?"  So I responded to the job.... nothing, nada, zilch... as a consumer I received zero alert that another pro has responded. I am an unpaid pro (promote off)... but I may be the best pro for the job - but it is unlikely the consumer will ever know I exist... is this really fair to the consumer???

So you as the 'consumer' didn't receive an email notification about the response you as a 'pro' sent.

Let me ask you this. After you sent you 'pro' response were you able to see your response of you logged in a 'consumer', located the job the consumer's Inbox and clicked on it. Was your Pro response added to the responses from the other Pro's?

Regards,
Laurence.

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Re: Disadvantages with Promote Off - and troubles for consumers

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@Lar 

About 1.5 hours after I posted my bid from the pro side, the consumer side received an email that said

"Next steps on your search for a wills & estate planner."

Three quarters of the way down the email message I see my name now as interested:

Screen Shot 2019-03-23 at 11.45.59 AM.png

Nothing explicitly says that I sent a message to the consumer in response to their project. The image above is very vague and can easily be ignored by the consumer to say the least.

When I click on the "email" I get the following:

Screen Shot 2019-03-23 at 11.31.53 AM.png

 

If I click on the "chat now" in the email , I do go to the pro's message... but that makes it look like the consumer wants to chat with a new pro.. "Read Message sent to you from Pro" would be a better button.

Again, nothing to say that I have responded unless I know what "confirmed interest" means.

When I click on view profile, I get

Screen Shot 2019-03-23 at 11.32.17 AM.png

Only after I click view message do I see my message.. oh, and this is called a "Professional Pitch"... which is a ridiculous name and not one as a consumer I would ever think is a message from the pro in direct response to the consumer's project.

So, although the system does allow the consumer to see the non-Promoted pro's response, it goes to great lenghths to make it very difficult for the unsuspecting consumer to actually find it.

In my opinion this is a disservice to both the pro and the consumer. Not good at all.

 

 

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Re: Disadvantages with Promote Off - and troubles for consumers

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Oh and by the way.. not going to spend time capturing this on mobile app... but it is even more difficult to get to the messages sent by non-promoted pro on the mobile app.... of which I suspect a high percentage of TT users are on the mobile app and not on the desktop.

 

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Re: Disadvantages with Promote Off - and troubles for consumers

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Thanks MR, sorry for all the follow-up questions, just trying to get a full picture of what the 'consumer' sees at the end.

Right after you posted the job, as the consumer, did you immediately receive an email from TT saying...

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.

...followed by a list of some other Pros.

Regards,
Laurence

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Re: Disadvantages with Promote Off - and troubles for consumers

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@Lar yes. I believe I did get that.
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Re: Disadvantages with Promote Off - and troubles for consumers

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@Lar. I just looked back at the email. It suggests 3 more pros who I am sure have promote on. Thus allowing TT additional revenue if the customer asks them for info. But there is no indication to the consumer that these 3 pros are being listed because they are paying for the opportunity to be listed. The email tried to make you think they are top pros from a quality standpoint and that is not necessarily the case as I believe promotes always get higher screen placement over non promotes. This is where I have an issue. I am 100pct fine with pros paying for better screen priority but I believe the consumer should be aware of this as well so they truly can make an informed decision.
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Re: Disadvantages with Promote Off - and troubles for consumers

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Thanks MR.

So let me get this straight. If I'm using Promote and a consumer reaches out to me then Thumbtack will automatically charge me for that lead. I will immediately receive a notification from TT of the lead's interest and the lead will also immediately receive an email from TT which says in effect...

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.

That email will present the lead with a list of some of my competitors that Thumbtack suggests that the lead may also want to reach out to.

How on earth is an email like that helpful to ME?

Remember, that email is sent as a direct result of the lead explicitly reaching out to ME.  I was automatically charged for that lead and yet IMMEDIATELY, before I've even had a chance to respond to the lead, Thumbtack are suggesting in that email that MY LEAD, the lead I just paid for, should contact other Pros!!!

Sorry, but that's nuts.

If I'm paying good money to Thumbtack for a lead I expect Thumbtack to work for me and give me the very best opportunity to turn that lead into a customer. Immediately suggesting to the lead that they should contact other Pros before I've had any opportunity to respond to the lead's request is grossly unfair to me. I paid for that lead and Thumbtack is working against me not for me by immediately drawing attention to my competitors.

Why on earth can't anyone at Thumbtack see that?

That FIRST email to the lead should be pertinent to ME. I paid for the lead, it wouldn't have been sent if I hadn't paid for the lead. I fully expect that the first email the lead receives is designed to put ME front and center, something like...

Stay tuned: Your request was sent to Laurence Francis - The Mind Magician.

Laurence is one of out Top Pro's, he responds quickly usually within a hour. If you haven't done so already then check out the reviews from Laurence's previous Thumbtack clients.

 

THAT is the type of email the consumer should immediately receive after they reach out to me. The email is about ME, not anyone else and certainly not my competitors. If I've paid Thumbtack for the lead then that first email to the lead should be focussed on helping ME turn that lead into a deal. It appears that Thumbtack's focus has become so consumer centric that they are alienating Pros left right and center with nonsense like this. It's all wrong.

Now if I don't respond to the lead in say 4 hours THEN Thumbtack should send a second email to the lead saying something like...

While you are waiting to hear back from Laurence go ahead and contact some backup Pros. It's good to have options, in case Laurence isn't available. 

That makes perfect sense. If I don't respond quickly then I'm not doing my job as a responsible Pro and I'm wasting the lead's time. But come on Thumbtack, give me a reasonable (4 hours seems reasonable to me) amount of time to respond to a lead request and if I don't then by all means send the lead another email with some suggestions for other Pros they might want to contact. That's fair to the lead and it gives other Pros an opportunity to pick up the ball I dropped.

This, along the other things you mentioned MR, demonstrates how out of touch Thumbtack are with the needs of their Pros and how their system is at times working against us and not for us.

Regards,
Laurence

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Re: Disadvantages with Promote Off - and troubles for consumers

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I believe everything you said is on point and correct. No disagreement here. TT says they offer the alternative to give consumer choices but I like the 4 hour window you mention. Also keep in mind that the choices TT gives is really a second bite of the revenue apple as the suggestions are likely promote pros who will get charged if the consumer sends an inquiry to the pro. This is where transparency needs to be because the consumer needs to have better insight what really is going on. Again, the promote pros are not necessarily the best. They may be the ones with deeper pockets but they aren't necessarily the best and TT is actually doing a disservice to customers by representing the suggestions different from reality.
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Re: Disadvantages with Promote Off - and troubles for consumers

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No argument there MR.

Thumbtack's new revenue model requires as many Pros as possible to switch to Promote. If you're not on Promote then you simply cannot compete against Pros who are. We know how Search engines work and the importance of being at or near the top. If you're not on Promote then it doesn't matter how many hires you've had, how many reviews you've had, how good a Pro you've been. Every Pro on Promote will be above you in the Search listing, even those with far fewer hires and far fewer reviews.

You'll be so far down in the Search listing most consumers won't even know you're there. If you're not on Promote then Thumbtack is unlikely to generate many leads for your business.

Regards,
Laurence.