Helping homeowners avoid the money pit
Maintaining and improving a home can be a nightmare. Ask any homeowner and they will tell you at least one, if not multiple horror stories of home projects gone wrong. From unreliable contractors to unexpected complications, many homeowners find themselves living in a money pit of botched and abandoned projects.
“I’ve been very, very damaged by professionals. I’ve spent a lot of money redoing bad jobs and I really haven’t found the right solution.”
Untangling the problem
Up until 2016, Porch was no more than a directory of professionals for homeowners to reach out to. To make matters worse, most pros didn’t respond – and the ones who did found it difficult to reach the homeowner. Homeowners who did get responses had to dig through unknown phone numbers and buried emails to not only respond to, but choose, a pro.
Communication is critical to a successful project
If we were going to help homeowners and professionals get projects done, we needed to help them talk to one another. Over the course of a project, a homeowner had multiple touch points with pros to get a job complete. Pros preferred talking on the phone. Homeowners preferred email. Information was commonly lost while delays in response often resulted in cost overruns and unmet expectations. Both homeowners and pros needed a tool to help them communicate more easily and reliably.
Defining clear objectives and scope
- Guide homeowners to start a project
Our users were spending their energy in the wrong place. Rather than browsing a directory of pros, homeowners should simply tell us about their project.
- Empower homeowners to manage the details of their project
We needed to provide the homeowner a place to review, edit, and cancel their project.
- Facilitate conversations between homeowners and pros
Unlike our competitors, we weren’t interested in simply introducing homeowners to professionals. Homeowners needed a place to communicate with pros.
Measuring our success
- Increase homeowner NPS from -26 to 18
- Increase average responses per project from 0.4 to 3
Providing a vision
Design – a north star
As a company, we knew that our task was to help homeowners get their projects done. But after over two years of pivoting, exploring, and reorganizing, many of us were left with an expression of exhaustion and befuddlement. Even if we could find the energy to continue, where should we step? It was at this moment that I truly understood the power of design – the ability to provide a vision for the way things could be. A light in the darkness. A path through the forest. A north star to navigate the horizon.
Aligning the product
Leaders of product, engineering, and design locked ourselves away in a boardroom for a month and created a war room design for one purpose: the complete disassembly and reassembly of porch.com into a focused product. We printed off every experience, from web to native apps, and covered the walls. Then, with post-it notes, we marked each success, failure, and opportunity.
Solving the navigation
We used Treejack studies to determine how users would navigate through various scenarios, from starting a new project to returning to view a new message. We discovered a surprising 50/50 split between thinking in terms of My Projects or My Pros. Our solution was to make My Projects a notification center.
Designing the solution
At its core, each project is simply a collection of conversations.
Every project, regardless of its perceived size and complexity, has infinite variability. Therefore, the best solution would be the most flexible.
“Connecting with homeowners has become so much easier, and so much more likely, through the use of the live chat feature. The homeowners are much less apprehensive to respond when the communication is coming through chat rather than calls or texts from an unknown number.”
Luke, Porch Pro
The proof is in the conversation
It was incredible. Moments after launching, the projects started pouring in. An hour later, we were watching actual, real-time conversations between homeowners and professionals. Homeowners were adding details to their project and uploading photos. Pros were asking questions, providing quotes, and scheduling times to visit.
48 hours after launch there were
4,000 new projects submitted, 5,500 calls, 1,700 text messages, 1,000 chats, 450 photos added to 160 projects, 380 budget and timeline set within project, and 41 pros marked “hired” by homeowners.
Relationship Between Responses and NPS
Increased Average Responses
It’s going to be a long road
Even though we saw a lift in responsiveness, the average NPS score plummeted from -26 to -40 points. “But didn’t you say that increasing responsiveness would increase homeowner happiness?” Yes, yes I did. And we built the right thing. “How do you figure?” I’m glad you asked. Our NPS plummeted because for the first time we made a promise to our users and built a product rooted in transparency. What happens when you break a promise? Heartbreak. Homeowners now expect Porch to be a platform to help them get projects done instead of a directory where they can contact pros. If their projects weren’t done before, they associated that blame with the pros, but now it’s on Porch – as it should be.
Built into the pro’s interface is the ability to “accept” or “decline” incoming leads. When a pro declines, we ask them why. The overwhelming response was “I don’t work in this area” or “I don’t do this type of work.” Our homeowners still weren’t getting responses, but this time we were transparent about it. Our next priority was clear: fix the matchmaking logic and get these projects in the hands of the right professionals.