Whether a person needs help cleaning a home, fixing a computer, or putting together furniture, finding a trusted business or contractor can be a complicated and time-consuming process. Community marketplace Airtasker.com in Australia set out to make that quite a bit easier by connecting people who need to outsource tasks with people looking to earn money and ready to work. For real-time communications, Airtasker knew Twilio was the right choice for the task.
When Airtasker first launched its platform in Australia, the company knew that user experience was going to be key to success. From simple to complicated tasks, people came to Airtasker looking not only for quick help, but for instant, real-time responses from people qualified and willing to do the job. But the company made some very quick learnings upon launch.
“When we launched our mobile apps many users hadn’t installed them and weren’t getting notified of offers on their tasks until they read their email messages,” explains Jonathan Lui, COO and co-founder of Airtasker.
The company wanted a communication solution for its marketplace that people were very familiar using to break down the communication barrier, so it turned to SMS, which is used by 90 percent of the population. After a shaky start with another SMS-based communication platform that had an unacceptable level of message delivery failures, Airtasker switched to Twilio. “We did our research and discovered that Twilio offers high reliability over both IP and carrier networks, and it required minimal development effort for our team,” says Lui.
In addition to reliability with Twilio SMS, other key reasons Airtasker chose Twilio was for its intelligent API for SMS and its robust reporting capabilities. “The Twilio SDK and APIs are much more developer friendly than the platform we started with,” explains Lui. Twilio-enabled software intelligence made it easy for Airtasker developers to solve its tough delivery challenges, like sending a large volume of communications. Airtasker sends tens of thousands of SMS messages every month, so the company had to have a reliable messaging platform that offered high visibility and a full set of reporting tools. “Twilio offered the reporting capabilities we needed,” says Lui, who also notes that his team can pull additional reports from the API to get data as well.
Communication is at the core of Airtasker. The platform allows users to describe a task, set a budget, and then rapidly get offers from Airtasker Workers. Once a user accepts an offer, she can instantly reach out to the Airtasker worker via private messaging with Twilio to discuss the project details and get started.
Airtasker started by building out SMS alerts to notify users at a specific time that one of their offers got accepted for a job. “When someone gets accepted to do a job, it’s a great moment to let them know so they can get started right away,” says Lui. “SMS is a good way to cut through the noise. It’s important people get messages in real time. With Twilio, we shattered customer expectations in terms of speed and fast response time.”
SMS is a good way to cut through the noise. It’s important that people get messages in real time. With Twilio, we shattered customer expectations in terms of speed and fast response time.
Airtasker also wanted to let users talk live. “With the sharing economy still growing, people don’t necessarily want to share mobile numbers or private details immediately, but they do want to have a private conversation,” says Lui. The company uses Twilio Masked Phone Numbers, so users don’t ever have to share their personal phone numbers with the Airtasker Workers until they are comfortable.
Airtasker also wanted a way for each user to have one number to communicate with a tasker throughout the project, so it turned on free mobile calling for all tasks. Airtasker would send a Twilio SMS with the number the user would receive calls from, and they could save it to their phone book. “This feature worked really well to ease people in and let them make a personal introduction,” says Lui.
Airtasker also provides a pay feature that allows for seamless and secure payments for jobs–even from a mobile device. Once an offer is accepted on a task, the agreed upon amount is securely held in an Airtasker Trust Account. When the task is completed, Airtasker uses two-way Twilio SMS to expedite the payment process. Users are prompted via SMS to confirm task completion and get a PIN code. They reply with that code to confirm the task is complete, and Airtasker then authorizes release of payments. The Airtasker worker will then shortly receive payment for the task in their verified bank account.
By allowing Airtaskers to communicate on multiple channels and get paid quickly and securely, Airtasker provides an excellent customer experience. “When we integrated Twilio in 2014, we started seeing rapid growth in our business, about 4x in transaction volume that year,” says Lui. “We gain our customers’ trust when we can show them what we can do. Twilio has helped us move forward.”