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Looking at Speed from an Expert's Perspective

By Anh Nguyen |

Kelly shares his thoughts on the noticeable benefits of response speed.

This post is part of the Experts Helping Experts program where Experts teach fellow Experts new skills, share expertise, and discuss hot topics. To learn more and contribute, click here.


“Why are you so obsessed with response speed?”

This is a question we've been hearing a lot lately and it’s a great one. The short answer is that speedy responses are better for everybody.  The slightly longer answer is that we know from over a decade’s worth of data that customers are more likely to rate positively, stick around longer, and accept premium service offers when they get speedy responses.

We’ve shared some of this data recently in our communications on instant gratification and membership speed. And while we can continue to use data to emphasize the benefits of speedy responses, we would be doing everyone a disservice if Experts are not noticing the same benefits suggested by our data.

To find out, we asked Kelly Smith, a longtime Appliance Expert, to share his take on response speed. Active since 2008, Kelly’s approach for most of this time has been to take on questions when it’s convenient for him and when he doesn’t have to compete with other Experts. This approach allowed him to be more casual about responding to questions, but it meant he often responded to questions that had been sitting around for hours.

After dealing with a health scare for most of 2015, Kelly started 2016 in much better health and with a new approach that saw his response speed improve by 97%. He attributed the change in his approach to personal reasons, the site’s ongoing message about speedy responses, and support from Category Moderators.

Below are highlights from our conversation with Kelly. He shared his thoughts on the importance of speed, the balance between speed and quality, and whether he has noticed the benefits of speedy responses.

This content has been edited and condensed for clarity.

On having the right mindset

Kelly: In my opinion, the biggest thing that will help response time is attitude. We, as Experts, need to be excited about what we do or go away and find something else to do that does excite us. It is no secret that happy people work harder and try to perform the best that they can, especially when they are commissioned. The tricky part is to find what motivates them besides money, because sometimes just money is not enough.

It’s also important for JustAnswer to do what it can to make Experts feel as though they are a valued and appreciated part of the team. The success of JustAnswer is intertwined with the success of Experts so it’s vital that both sides collaborate well and focus on helping each other succeed.

On the perception of sacrificing quality for speed

Kelly: I don't leave anything out as far as quality to gain speed. The speed mainly comes from using a simple greeting with customers to let them know that I’ve received their questions. I’ve found that if customers know you are working on a solution for them, they will be patient. It helps a lot with both speed and quality when customers include more information with their questions, but it is possible to provide fast responses and quality answers.

On getting more instant gratification

Kelly: There is definitely a difference in customer attitude when they get an immediate response. People expect immediate responses when they pay, that is why they come to JustAnswer. If customers have to wait, even for 5 minutes, I notice that they tend to feel like they have been misled. While I think that the demographic of customers are the same, the ones who get timely responses are certainly more apt to rate positively. We live in an instant gratification society, response time is important.

On earning potential of speedy responses

Kelly: I had a record month in March so obviously the accept rate is much higher and I would guess the satisfaction rating is higher as well. I did notice that I hardly had any poor ratings on the regular questions. So yes, it makes a HUGE difference in the earning potential! Customers want what they ask for and are willing to pay to get it fast…that is the bottom line.

It helps to take advantage of additional payout promotions for speedy responses such as an extra dollar or two if the customer accepts and the first response is within a specified time limit. They are good motivators.

On how to get faster

Kelly: There is no secret sauce here, I just applied myself and was motivated to do so by the things mentioned above. It is easy to do when you actually see that you can get a question and know that you are helping the site meet goals and are appreciated for it. People will work hard if they actually think they are making a difference.

The Category Moderators have been very clear on the importance of response time. In the Appliance category, I can honestly say that Gina goes above and beyond for all of the Experts so we usually do what we can to help when she asks. I would recommend Experts to leverage available resources like the Category Moderators for help.

Lastly, I use a line now that has been quite helpful as well, “Please allow me just a few minutes to prepare some information for you, thank you!”  The customer seems to accept a delay when they know someone is working on their question.


We want to thank Kelly for taking the time to share his thoughts with us. In addition to points made above, he also shared some really good suggestions for how JustAnswer can continue to improve with the Expert community. We get suggestions from Experts every day and make an effort to follow up on those with the potential to add value for both JustAnswer and Experts.

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