Semester: 2016 Spring

Students: Patricia Alejandro, David Shackelford, and Serena Wu

Thumbtack is a fast-growing San Francisco-based technology company dedicated to connecting local service professionals and customers. Thumbtack is tackling the hard problem of making it easy for pros to find work and customers to find the right pros for them.

Millions of projects have been successfully completed on Thumbtack, but there are rare instances where things go wrong. As a result, in August 2014, Thumbtack created its Marketplace Integrity (MI) team to handle escalated customer and pro disputes. Frequently, the MI team has found that a resolution can be achieved by putting the parties back in contact and getting them to engage with each other in a neutral environment. Therefore, Thumbtack has engaged HNMCP to assess how the company should design and implement an innovative, tech-centered process for customers and professionals to resolve disputes and set an example for other online marketplaces.

Activities & Deliverables

  • Research best practices in online dispute resolution;
  • Conduct focus groups with Thumbtack pros and customers;
  • Design recommendations for an online resolution center and process, including:
  • Recommendations on how to properly incentivize customers and pros to participate in dispute resolution with good faith;
  • Recommendations on the timing and flow of a resolutions center (i.e., when the concept should be introduced to the parties and when Thumbtack customer service agents should get involved, if ever, to mandate a resolution).

Field Visit


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