Booking an on-demand service is like being in a relationship — communication is key!

In the world of on-demand services, where you can book a taxi, a cleaner, order food, or get any of your odd-jobs done, with the press of a few buttons on your smart phone — we’re at risk of slipping into a bad habit.

It’s not about being physically lazy — as I’m all for the convenience that on-demand services enable. The bad habit I’m referring to is a lack of communication — actually being clear in our own mind, and setting out up front, our expectations and ensuring that the person fulfilling our service needs understands them.

I’m sure many of you reading this, just like me, have been told repeatedly throughout your lives that actions speak louder than words. We want a clean home we book a cleaner — simple right?

But what we should have been told instead is that ‘actions mean very little — without clear communication’. We see this too often in on-demand services where the service provider ends up second-guessing what a consumer wants, simply because of a lack of communication.

So why are we slipping into this bad habit?

As consumers, too often when we buy a service online, we focus on the outcome — the clean home, that piece of furniture assembled or that romantic meal for two delivered on time. But by focusing on the outcome we lose sight of the process to get there and the people who are involved in delivering the service to us.

If instead as consumers we took more time to make it clear why buying the service is important to us, and what we actually need, I think we’d be half way there. Take booking a cleaner for example — my vision of a clean home after a two-hour booking would be different to yours or anybody else’s. As individuals we have different expectations and it’s our responsibility to make these known.

As service providers there is also a responsibility to ensure that the consumer expectations are understood and if they aren’t, to ask the right questions to clarify them. Sometimes it’s assumed service providers can deliver miracles, or, that as experts there’s nothing they haven’t seen — that’s simply not true. But unless the service provider plays back the consumer’s expectations to them, and aligns with them on the outcomes, misunderstandings will occur.

How can we break this bad habit?

To help break this bad habit, service providers need to feel empowered and equal to the consumer in an on-demand service transaction. Establishing a balanced relationship based on clear communication and trust is vital — especially if the consumer is purchasing a repeat service.

Too often the balance of power falls with the consumer, in some on-demand service marketplaces, as consumers often shout the loudest! This is where on-demand services have an important role to play — and at I can honestly say we’re still working to help create this balance!

From day one we strongly encouraged service providers and consumers to communicate directly. We’re a platform that’s there to connect them and to provide them with the tools to manage their relationship independently — not to manage the relationship for them. When things go wrong, as occasionally they do, we’re also here if either party wants independent help, so that they can ask the right questions to find a resolution.

At we do genuinely want to help consumers and service providers get their relationships off to the best possible start. This is why we’re also looking at introducing tools to help with initial expectation setting. But it doesn’t stop there — we know that there is more to do. To help break the habit, and in order to be successful in any relationship good communication is required — this takes practice and it’s not something that just happens overnight!

One final thought…

Too often when something goes wrong, due to a breakdown in communication, blame is quickly attributed to one party. “They must not have picked up my voicemail” or “I was waiting for them to message me” — but for us to break this habit, and change the way we establish relationships in the on-demand economy, both parties need to take more responsibility.

So the next time you book an on-demand service — make sure you take the time to set your expectations with the service provider. Or if you’re a service provider whose not clear on what the consumer wants, in the words of the modern day philosopher J. Bieber just ask them “What do you mean?”