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Helpling: a helpful online cleaning service… or not?

cleaningThis weekend, I decided to try out Helpling, one of the latest web-based cleaning booking services that has cropped up lately.

This was my first time using Helpling. I’ve been needing to find a replacement for our current beloved cleaners as they haven’t been able to service spaces over a certain square footage anymore. I was hoping Helpling could be our new go-to service.

So in the end… how was it? This was my experience and how I think they can make it better.

1) The website

When I got to their site, I was impressed by how clean and user friendly it was. Unfortunately, as soon as I started filling out my information, I found that the site had some bugs, the first of which forced me to enter information into the “optional” second line of the address fields. “Optional” should not mean mandatory. This must have been an oversight, and therefore should be an easy fix. That said, until it’s fixed, it’s really not the ideal as many people don’t have addresses that can extend into two lines. As for me, I usually have to fill out my address with my suite number in a very specific way to get past strict credit card verifications against my on-file billing address. Splitting up my billing address often means credit card validation is declined. The fact that it went through is convenient on the one hand, but really not so good, as it raises security concerns.

A second observation was that the site form didn’t have any space for customers to fill out additional information. Information like key pick-up, perhaps where the cleaning supplies are, or any special instructions in the event a customer can’t meet the cleaner face to face.

The verdict: It doesn’t matter how beautiful a site is if the basic functionality doesn’t work. Helpling would benefit from going through another round of site QA and fixing these sorts of bugs – both form submissions and the security flaw. Adding a comments or additional information section to the form would eliminate the need for customers to have to call Helpling to give that information over the phone – which ties into #3 below.

2) The big bug – location for in-person services is really important

The next bug was a doozy, and I only discovered it a day later when I happened to review the confirmation email I was sent in more detail… because I’m anal like that. What I found was that the address listed as the cleaning location was incorrect. The system had actually overwritten my cleaning location address with the billing address. Not good. Especially because my timelines were crazy tight that day between coordinating a double move and a hand-over of my place to new tenants. I didn’t have the wiggle room to have a cleaner show up at the wrong address where I wouldn’t be at. It goes without saying that had I not noticed, it would be have been a significant problem. Luckily, I was able to correct the issue with a call through to Helpling. As an aside, I also found that the addresses in my profile and other address on file showed the two postal codes as being reversed for some reason – another bug, but really inconsequential to me at that point.

The verdict: This one really has to get solved or people won’t bother using the service at all. It really eliminates all the benefit to a fast, convenient online booking service. Read more

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