3 Ways Thumbtack Can Improve User Experience

Ever since I’ve had to find movers (SoMA to Jack London Square), I’ve been a big fan of Thumbtack. My friends and I have used Thumbtack to find local service providers such as contractors, golf instructors, housekeepers, and even a face painter.

I love that Thumbtack does the work for me. It essentially reverses the workflow of search for local services — instead of me taking the time to pore over pages of search results on Google or Yelp, Thumbtack takes some information on what I’m looking for, then returns up to 5 quotes from local professionals who may be a good fit for my request. While the user experience is pretty good, here are some ways I think they can be better.

1. Better communication

Below is a screenshot of the messaging platform on Thumbtack.


Each professional sent me a moving quote with a price per hour, as well as a short message introducing themselves and their business. However, I often found a long lag-time between message response, which led me to wonder if the professional was checking Thumbtack regularly. In fact, one professional I hired on the platform stopped answering my messages all together! One way to improve communication could be read receipts — a check mark for whether the other party has seen my message, or a time stamp showing their last login.

I don’t think it’s clear to the user that Thumbtack purposely caps the number of quotes to five. I can easily imagine a new user in limbo, waiting for more quotes to arrive before s/he makes a decision. I’ve also made a couple of requests that have only received one or two quotes — in this situation, Thumbtack can maybe let me know that I have tapped out the market or prompt me to widen the request criteria. On the supply-side, for requests that do not get five replies, Thumbtack can also waive posting credits to encourage service providers to submit a quote.

2. Easier transactions

When it came time to pay my movers, it was definitely awkward. I had to pull up the Thumbtack messages to recall the rate we had discussed and then run to the ATM to withdraw cash. For jobs that had slight delays or additional complications, I sometimes had to re-negotiate the transaction amount.

If Thumbtack can own the payment flow of the experience, it could remove some of the annoyances of transacting with a local service provider. Owning the entire experience will also give Thumbtack the data to close the loop, from a request to a transaction.

Providing a way for customers and service providers to transact on Thumbtack will also help the Company increase / diversify their revenue. For now, Thumbtack sells “credits” to service providers, who redeems them in order to send customers a quote. In addition to charging for qualified leads, Thumbtack could also take a cut of the transaction from the service provider who was hired for the request. (This is something Thumbtack had tried before, but was unable to close the loop on the transaction.)

3. Using data to improve the consumer experience

Given the number of quotes Thumbtack facilitates, they should be able to provide a certain level of transparency for the consumer to get more value out of the platform. One example would be to dynamically show how many professionals fit my request — this will help set expectations on how many responses I may receive and how much supply I can expect in this market.

I’m also surprised at how little customer data Thumbtack has on me. Thumbtack is one of the few online services that doesn’t have a Facebook sign-on – which could actually tell the Company a lot about my local service needs. This type of customer data would be incredibly helpful in re-targeting me for additional services. For example, if I like Crossfit, maybe I also need a sports massage, or if I like Sephora, maybe I’m interested in beauty services. Given that I just hired movers to move from 94105 to 94607, Thumbtack could probably also estimate some basic demographic data, like my age and income bracket.

Given the market they’re facing, it’s still really early for Thumbtack and they’ve got multiple directions in which they can grow their business. With the increased competition from large incumbents such as Amazon and Google, I’m rooting for the underdog and can’t wait to see how their product will develop in the next couple of years.

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