Hi pros, we want to hear from you!
As you know, the Community is a great place for pros to connect with each other and share ideas. We want to hear those ideas and have a fun contest for you to win some Thumbtack credit!
To enter, respond to this post with your answer to the following prompt:
Communication can be hard- especially online. How do you evaluate a customers’ preferred communication style and how do you adjust your approach accordingly? *Extra credit if you can share a time you adapted your communication with a customer to land a job!*
The contest will be live until Friday, September 27 at 5pm PST, and winners will be announced the following week.
We will be selecting 2 pros to win some Thumbtack credit:
The first winner will be the pro whose post received the most kudos so if you see a post you like, give it a thumbs up! This pro will receive $100 in Thumbtack credit.
The second winner will be the post of our choosing that we feel has a particularly inspiring lesson that other pros can learn from. This pro will receive $50 in Thumbtack credit.
I evaluate a customer's styie of communication by picturing myself in their position. If, for example, they indicate (whether directly or tacitly) that he/she is unfamiliar with hiring a professional online, then I close my eyes and imagine myself as sharing that same experience. Now I am on their page. My first contact with them will include some straight talk that is worded in a way that makes them feel valued. One example of this adaptive approach is to let them know that I want to give a fair quote and I need a few more more details. This encourages the potential customer to open a dialog either by phone or email. The trick is to get them off site and communicate directly.
A recent example is a Cooking Lesson I gave to a nice couple at their home. I was already booked for a Catering event the afternoon of August 17, and I answered this lady's request for a Cooking Lesson earlier in the week. Her request asked for my availability. Ordinarily I ignore these leads unless they include some actual remarks in the message box, aka, "Get to know your prospective student". It said she and her S.O. needed to destress, learn Vegetarian Mexican food and it had to be the next Saturday, the 17th! I felt that she was stressed and needed immediate attention. After a quick followup (to the initial quote/response) that explained TT's technical mobile phone app glitches, I sent her photos from my laptop later. Well, she was practically desperate for a class and I fit her in early am Saturday the 17th. The point of this example is that I was able to sympathize with her plight and let her know that although I was a bit stressed by squeezing her booking in at the last minute, I was happy to do so and relieve her stress. The trick in communication online is to convey a feeling of identifying with a customer's situation and let them feel valued.
Most of the customers I have encountered on Thumbtack are under the impression that Pros either work for TT or have to pay a percentage of the final invoice to Thumbtack. This misconception carries throughout even though I have explained my status as an independent and the payment process at the beginning before the contract is finalized.
I chose these examples as being particular to the Thumbtack experience only. I am on 6 other service platforms and do not encounter these situations ever. I have noticed that when customers find me online and contact me directly by email there is very little awkwardness, and at least 50% of these contacts results in conversion.
The way Thumbtack is set up can result in positive results. I believe it is necessary to fully understand the job poster's experience to understand their needs and adapt to how they express them. Anyone using Thumbtack can be successful.
Communicating with clients can be intimidating sometimes. What a pro says, how they say it and even the tone can make or break a potential business opportunity. We live in an age now where baby boomers are joining online communities and melenials are rapidly creating growth in e-commerce. This presents a unique situation where being flexible in your ability to communicate and being able to adapt to different generations of communication needs is paramount.
I find that younger generations generally prefer to communicate via the platform or text. Verbal communication does not seem to hold the level of importance that it once did whereas the older generations enjoy verbal communication and generally appreciate the ease of a simple phone call versus back and forth text communications.
I had a client, an elderly lady, preparing her husbands end of life documents and she needed a notary. She was unsure of what sort of things she needed and had a lot of questions. I this case it was much better to talk to her by phone so that I could explain that I only serve as a witness to the signatures and cannot provide legal advice regarding her forms. I was able to answer a few questions from a paramedic’s standpoint and explain to her how her husbands EOL wishes could be handled by EMS should he have an illness or death at home.
On the other hand, I recently performed a wedding for a young couple. They preferred text and e-mail over phone conversations. This provided them with the opportunity to respond when it was possible or ask questions as they came up with the worry of playing phone tag.
I think overall it is important to gauge what your client prefers but also what works best for the pro. Spending countless hours on the phone may not be the most effective option for me as this could prevent me from being able to secure additional clients. Additionally, if a client is texting and requiring immediate responses to be happy then a phone call may be better for that situation. In the end, ask what the client prefers, catering to their needs and expectations will always help you get that 5 star review!
Whenever we receive a new lead on Thumbtack, I respond by asking for their cell phone number and address. I then use both Thumbtack and texting to communicate and wait to see how they respond. If they use Thumbtack, I continue to use Thumbtack - if they text, I use texting. We recently had a job for Tom C. — he texted additional pictures of the siding work he needed completed and we used texting to do our main communication. The other important communication that we do is to send a Thankyou note with business cards and a magnet to everyone who hired us for a job. We have already had repeat business.
I find everyone is different when it comes to communication. I generally respond through Thumbtack first. I answer whatever questions they have quite promptly and if they want to proceed I ask for their email address to send a release form. If they are slow to warm up or don't seem to be on the app often, I will ask directly how they would prefer to be contacted. I agree, younger folks prefer to be texted. I have also sent my release form in this manner. I do have a firm rule though, if they are vague, non-responsive or hesitant to give more information I do find this to be a red flag. I value what I do and I value my time so if they are not serious about what I am offering or I am uncomfortable in any way, I just kindly let them know that I don't believe we are a good fit to work together.
Communication is and has always been the key to having a successful business, moreso in today's world. Most of this generation relies on their cellphones to communicate, which has taken me years to try and fully understand. I am what they call "old school", where I need to be very personable when communicating with a prospective customer. The constant emailing, messaging and texting is and has been out of my norm for years now.
But I've learned to adapt with using my writing skills , that have a customer want to converse via phone, or set up a day and time to meet in person to discuss what they are looking for in a DJ, as well as my discussing my services, along with my pricing, etc. Most times messages can get misinterpreted, such as, with text messaging. That is why I, at many times, provide my phone number as well as asking for the customer's number.
An example of trying to communicate and be personable, happened earlier this year when a woman reached out to me on Thumbtack. The event was for an event at one of my local churches for autistic people of all ages. Since this fell within my experience as I've DJ'd for Autism Speaks events in the past, I offered my services. The woman was surprised, even after telling me that the event was for Tim Tebow's "Night To Shine". I still didn't budge and charge because of the name. She then asked for my number/email and reached out to me. Other DJ Pros that she reached out to, when told of the name behind the event, charged in excess of a grand. That isn't who I was raised to be nor is it the person that God wants me to be.
Communication via phone helped solidify the event for me, as the woman felt more comfortable with the voice instead of reading kind words. And I will be back in 2020 to DJ this special event.
Sure, it's frustrating when a customer's way of communicating is through Thumbtack messaging, but the key is wording your reply message to make them feel comfortable, or even suggest giving me a call to hear my voice to see that I am the DJ for their event. There have been times after talking on the phone, that I give a couple of introductions that I would announce at an event. That solidifies many of my events, sometimes just hearing a friendly voice helps too.
Being in the DJ business for over 25 years, I've seen many forms of communication, and yes, I prefer the old fashioned way of communicating (calling, instead of messaging in any form). Also, I want to hear the customer's voice, because if a customer is hesitant, I need to put that customer at ease, where in writing it's sometimes impossible because more often than not, customers do not read the entire text, email, or message.
Thank you for allowing me the chance to explain and give an example of my communicating with a customer.
DJ Stevie 9-10-2019
The first step is to carefully read their entire request. I have two categories on Thumbtack and they both require different response techniques from me. In the Handyman category, the more the Job Poster writes about their job, the more clues I have to evaluate their "style". When (if) they are open about what they do not know regarding the scope of the job, I respond with an explanation of a few of the most common possible scenarios. After the first response from a customer, I review whether they have pressed a Thumbtack Prompt, or whether they wrote something in their own words. This then leads to an invitation to speak further by phone. In the Handyman category voice communication can be the best and quickest way to develop rapport and answer question. At times, a few customers want to maintain written communication via the Thumbtack App. This becomes evident when they reply in writing after the invitation to call and speak on the phone. In these cases I continue to communicate in writing via Thumbtack.
In my second category of Home Inspections, there are some common needs of all clients that require an approach different than customers who want home repairs. These home buyers have a lot going on in a tight time frame and they often want everything in writing so they may review my replies at their leisure. Often times they may wish to speak by phone and the first reply that I get which includes their phone number, I immediately call them. This leaves no doubt that they prefer voice over text. The phone number is the tip-off that they want to gauge my suitability for the job based on this verbal interaction. In many cases, they are ready to schedule the inspection but simply need to establish a mutual understanding of who will be involved, and how many people must meet at the same place and the same time to meet their needs. Any commitment to a schedule is followed with a message through the Thumbtack site to assure good documentation for both parties.
In one case involving a home inspection, I was asked by the customer if it would be alright to communicate through my website. They told me upfront that this allowed them to use their phone with greater easy and receive faster responses. I could reply by email and they could send messages from their phone via my web-response feature on my site. It was easy for me to adapt to this mode of communications. We both maintained good records of everthing that was written.
Hi all, I just want to let everyone know that we will be extending the contest for two more weeks (9/27)!
Thank you to those who have already submitted thoughtful entries: it looks like we have some stiff competition! For those of you who haven't submitted an entry yet, procrastination will be rewarded this time!
Here’s the deal: I screwed up the timing of the contest and that is the reason we will be extending it out. To make up for it we will select a second $50 winner out the group of pros who got submissions in on time. We may have two winners from this group, who knows? But there will at least be one. At Thumbtack, we recognize room for improvement as a #couldbebetter (#cbb) and this is a #cbb for me.
Thanks for participating and thanks for your understanding,