The ChaCha Experience

If you haven’t used the search engine ChaCha, I suggest you do. It is an interesting experience. The site allows you to search with a “guide” who will do the research for you and find links for you. It is like a human input search engine, with humans translating your text into something that search engines can understand and going through the best results.

The guides are paid by the search and supposedly make about $10/hour. I’ve heard varying accounts of how much they do make, but that isn’t really relevant to this post. There is a lot of help documentation available to them as well as a fairly extensive training process that involves doing about 10 – 20 practice searches with other guides before being allowed to go on your own. After each search, the visitor rates the guides as either Bad, OK, or Great.

Last night I was doing some research for something I was writing. I needed to know the number of bloggers (not the number of blogs – which is very easy to find) and was on the go. I used the browser from my phone and went to ChaCha. This way, I didn’t have to go through page after page on Google.

I typed in my search query and was transferred to a guide within a thirty seconds or so. I explained my search to the guide who said something along the lines of “if it is even available.” A few minutes went by and he sent some irrelevant results (the page specifically said that it was counting the number of blogs, not bloggers), some more (the number of bloggers he sent me was supposedly three times as high as the number of blogs), and so on. I asked him for updates before he sent the first result process and he said “immlooking” and then sent the canned response that was quite a bit more friendly. A few minutes went by with no response (I guess he gave up) and I ended the chat. His rating: bad.

ChaCha has a button labeled “New Guide” right under each search. It could be interpreted as ChaCha not really trusting all of their guides, but regardless, it is a useful button. I clicked it and was transferred to a new guide.

The new guide, I could tell almost instantly was infinitely better. He was extremely friendly. His spelling and grammar was perfect. He used words that actually convinced me he knew what he was talking about. I was extremely impressed. Plus, the found the information I needed pretty quickly.

I spoke to him for a few minutes in between and he told me that he couldn’t think of doing something less than the best he could and that work ethic was important to him. I told the guide that I wrote about customer service and pointed him towards my blog. He liked it and told me he had bookmarked it.

The first guide was terrible and the second one was way beyond average. If they could clone the second one, their service would rival the service that companies like Land’s End provide over live chat.

The second guide I dealt with exhibited the qualities of a good customer service representative. He had a great attitude, was knowledgeable, and resourceful. From what I could tell, he was smart, and he was friendly. He took an interest in my problem (in fact, he said it was an interesting question) and was more than happy to help.

I have no idea if he works in customer service currently, but if he doesn’t, I strongly encourage him to look into it.

I’ve heard that ChaCha monitors the blogosphere so let’s see if they say anything. I also sent the company a note about my experience with the relevant guide information.

Edit: With a little research, I found out the second (helpful) guide’s name is Christopher Wilson. Way to go, Christopher!

4 Responses to “The ChaCha Experience”

  1. Jennifer W said:

    Feb 10, 07 at 9:31 am

    Thank you so much for reporting on both sides of the Cha Cha experience. I am a Cha Cha guide, and I cruise the blog scene often to find out how our service is being viewed by infoseekers. Many times, bloggers will have a negative search and not try again with another guide to see if someone else can better help them. I know they shouldn’t have to, but unfortunately this is the case until Cha Cha starts deactivating unprofessional guides. Then they proceed to elaborate on how useless Cha Cha is based on this one bad search.
    I was glad to see you continue your search with a new guide, and then report on the fact that it IS possible to have a great search with a knowledgable and professional guide. Please keep coming back! Many of us are working hard to provide you with a great search!

  2. Jack said:

    Sep 02, 07 at 2:26 pm

    He used words that actually convinced me he knew what he was talking about. I was extremely impressed. Plus, the found the information I needed pretty quickly.

    Your rippin on a guide not spelling right, and you cant even do it yourself, read your paragraph, “the found the information……”

    Who are you to judge!

  3. Locos said:

    Jan 27, 09 at 10:50 am

    ChaCha is useless man. It’ll go bankrupt in a few years. investors are dumb

  4. Melissa said:

    May 03, 09 at 6:02 am

    I have been an Expeditor for ChaCha.com for only a couple weeks and I can tell you that they are getting very serious about sub contractors that take all of this lightly. You are talking about a VERY customer oriented business that lives or dies on the advertisements of 3rd party vendors reaching a mass audience.I have also found that there is a sense of I would say pride when you can be successful at something that I have personally seen a lot of people fail trying to do. Just because you have one bad experience with one guide doesn’t mean they are all bad, another thing you need to take into consideration is being a new company they have a lot of new guides. sometimes its not even the guide’s fault, if I as a expidator fail to fully grasp the complete scope of your question then I may send them a totally off base question, that has nothing to do with the person researching and answering your question that blame falls on me for incorrectly typing your question or improperly categorizing your question witch will send it to a guide that may not have the resources at his fingertips to correctly answer your question quickly and correctly. I guess my main point is that the service is free and one bad experience should not drive you away.
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