BARK GLOBAL LIMITED
BARK INDIA, A WORLD-LEADING SERVICE MARKETPLACE LED BY JOHN OBERLIN-HARRIS SUPPORTS BUSINESSES WITH QUALITY LEADS
There’s always something influential to learn from the journey of a company that has nourished itself to become a renowned name on the global level. Bark – a name that goes in sync with best-in-class and one of the largest and fastest-growing service marketplaces, connecting consumers and businesses with the right service professionals is now focusing to revolutionize the service industry in India by introducing its unique platform in India.
For customers in India, Bark.com will be an avenue to place their requests for some of the widest range of service areas and get top professional services. For customers, the platform is free. With the recent expansion in 4g connection and smartphone users, a lot of people are going on the internet to find services. While there are a lot of platforms available, finding the right professional for the requirement is still a time-consuming activity.
Hoisting global expertise of 8 years, Bark has been victorious in pushing boundaries and generating leads in more than 800 services right from simple services such as house cleaning to sophisticated services like web development and interior designing. From the initial stage, Bark’s focus has been to provide leads to independent professionals and businesses. There is in-house expertise in search ads to attract customers to place their service requests on our platform.
The customers are asked several questions to identify their approximate requirements. The company shares its responses with the professionals, helping them to identify leads that fit into their business model. Once the customer places the request the team check for the authenticity of the request by checking several factors including phone number verification, email check, IP address verification, etc. before sharing the lead with the professionals.
THE CORE MOTIVATION BEHIND THE INCEPTION
Bark’s bedrock was laid back in the year 2014 in the UK as a tech service provider. Two successful serial entrepreneurs Andrew Michael and Kai Feller took the foundation of Bark in the UK with a vision to make finding professionals to get any job done easier and more efficient when they found that there was a market gap in terms of professionals finding customers and customers finding the right professionals. They felt that there was a strong demand for a unique type of platform that can address both these issues.
Since then, there has been no turning back for the company. Bark has been steadily expanding to English-speaking countries since its first expansion in the US in 2017 and then in Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Singapore. While looking for further expansion, they selected India for the next expansion. The focus for the next few years is ensuring Bark is the most preferred platform in the Indian market for professionals in all sizes of business to find quality screened customers, easily.
In India, there has been an exponential increment in the total number of professionals starting new ventures in the last 2-3 years, partially due to covid factors. These professionals need platforms where they can find new customers hassle-free and look for cost-effective solutions to acquire new customers but must compete hard with the more organised large businesses which have the resources to run large online ad campaigns to attract new customers. This is where Bark.com has an opportunity. With the help of marketing strengths, they can get many potential customers to these professionals and businesses helping them flourish.
John Oberlin-Harris, MD, Bark India apprised, “In my current assignment, I’m continuing the organisation’s expansion work. I plan to implement my experiences to make sure the Indian unit is amongst the top three markets in terms of revenue for Bark.com. Also, we want to be a part of the Aatmanirbhar India story, helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses.”
The Guiding Force
The man at the helm, John Oberlin-Harris is a digital marketer with 18 years of industrial experience and holds diverse knowledge, and skill base in PPC, SEO, Affiliates, CRM, and CRO as well as site strategy for high growth tech businesses.
The fierce, forward-looking, visionary, John is passionate about listening to customers and using their feedback to shape a business’ future with an extensive background in retail and process management both in-store and in head office functions.
ANY SIGNIFICANT HURDLES ON THE WAY?
This is a tech-driven company with built scalability for expansion. Here, the focus is on automating almost every function of the business from marketing, and service expansion, to professional onboarding. The only short-term challenge that the team has is keeping up the pace of onboarding quality customer success agents with their high growth. As they lay considerable emphasis on the human touch for interacting with the professionals and customers, this will be an area that can affect the company’s planned expansion.
THE SECRET TO BARK’S SUCCESS
“I strongly believe that people are the real strength of any organization. Having the right people with great processes and tech can have a multiplicative effect on the company’s growth. I always try to hire great people and then give them tasks that challenge them. This ensures that we are in top form continuously and it also helps us to remain competitive and ahead of the ever-evolving market environment”, John emphasized.
Bark has established a process to listen to its customers and professionals. Additionally, the customer success team is constantly on the lookout for any feedback and suggestions that can help in improving the services. They regularly interact with the professionals through surveys and calls, which helps the organization be aware of the professional’s needs.
THE BARK USP
Numerous factors make Bark.com stand out from its peers in the lead generation business. Here are a few:
- Bark provides freedom to professionals to choose which leads they want to buy. It shows details of all leads that the team receives from the professionals as per their selected services. The professionals get to see the locations, phone number verification details, and the responses to questions they ask the customer. Based on this information the professional decides if the lead makes sense for his/her business and then uses the credits to respond to the lead. This gives tremendous control to the professionals.
- Another factor, the credits that professionals receive, never expire. It means the professional can keep credits in their account to respond to leads at a pace that his business allows whenever they come. This again benefits professionals to focus on the leads that they think can work for their business and not spend the credits responding to leads in the fear of credit expiration.
- Additionally, professionals get to respond to quality leads sourced from their highly optimised marketing activities that get leads from customers having a high intention to get services. This backed by their tech expertise, both customers and professionals can experience clutter-free UI/UX focused to solve the problem at hand – finding professionals and finding customers.
- Lastly, Bark India gives high emphasis on offering quality service to both professionals and customers through the Customer Success team. They believe in the human element for interacting with professionals and customers. This helps in the better resolution of differences and building long-term relationships.
CORE VALUES AT BARK
Talking about their core values, John asserted, “We are passionate to support people find what they need and help the businesses that provide these services succeed. We believe in being honest and keeping it simple and transparent with our customers and professionals, which is the best way to build trust.”
All the processes reflect the core value at Bark India. For example, they provide a level playing field for all professionals. They do not filter the leads or lead information or have variable pricing for leads for different professionals. They allow only five professionals to respond to a single lead and they show them how many their competitors on the platform have responded to a particular lead so that they can decide if they want to respond or skip the lead.
“We also have a strong credit return policy that ensures that in the rare cases where the information provided by the customer is incorrect, we return the credits to the professional. Our values have helped us build long-term relationships with professionals in our existing market and we believe we will see that reflected here in India as well”, John Oberlin further apprised.
On the customer side, they ensure that the privacy of the customers is respected. They share the customer details with at most five professionals so that the customer does not get bombarded with calls from professionals. Also, the questions that they ask customers ensures that only the professionals who can deliver the services required by the customer reach out to them.
Keeping up with the Quality Standards of the Portfolio
One of the major parts of offering lead generation services is to ensure that it shares authentic, intent-based leads with the right professionals in the right service.
At Bark India, the quality control process starts right at the beginning when they get the customer to the platform to place the request. The marketing process assures that they display the right ads matching with customers’ search queries on Google/Bing search platform so that they land on the right service page.
Once the customer lands on the service page, there is a set of questions asked from the customer to ensure that the customer’s request is further broken down into various aspects. Then they cross-check if the request is made by a genuine customer. They verify the phone number through OTP and check if the email ID is genuine or not. They also check for profanity in the request, other patterns from their earlier experience that say that the request is not genuine. Once the checks are done, they share them with the professionals.
The company has regular audits of the processes, and they constantly update their systems whenever they see an opportunity to keep enhancing the service quality.
BARK’S TAKE ON TECHNOLOGY INFUSION AND R&D
“We approach any new technology with a question – “How will it help the business better connect customers and get quality leads for the professionals?” Expanding business in a different market comes with a unique set of challenges. At the time of launch, we faced two difficult challenges – providing information in local languages and local payment requirements. We could successfully overcome both these problems with the help of innovative tech solutions”, shared John, on the inclusion of technology in the business operation.
The industry is affected by various fast-evolving technologies, in marketing, IT support functions such as Databases, Payment structure, and the nature of services. Staying ahead of the curve is of utmost importance for any business-like Bark to continue to provide quality and relevant leads to professionals. Bark maintains a centralised tech team in the UK that ensures a uniform, top-quality platform is available to all professionals and customers in all the markets where Bark is present. The interface is suitably adapted for each market requirement without having any impact on the experience.
The team keeps eye on the new services that evolve in the market and for changes in the existing services. For example, when covid struck, they started offering remote service as an option to the customers and this early initiative helped a lot of professionals to serve customers across large geographical distances. In addition, they regularly conduct focus groups and surveys to get feedback from professionals and employ large-scale data analytics to identify trends and then take adequate action to improve lead quality for each service.
The marketing team works closely with Google and other ad service providers to ensure that it takes maximum advantage of the latest tools available in the market to help customers place their service requests.
FROM THE MD’S DESK
India has millions of professionals who provide varied and amazing services to people. These professionals and small businesses are often limited by resources and knowledge to leverage technology to develop their business. Bark.com would work with these professionals and small businesses, to make customers who need services more accessible, and easy to contact so that they can pitch their services.
Professionals who have joined us have expressed great satisfaction especially, on how transparent we are about the leads and the freedom to choose leads they want for their business. Also, a significant percentage of top professionals on our platform in India are women, and that gives me great satisfaction. It’s an interesting journey that we have started in India. I feel Bark.com will play a significant role in India’s growth story. And entrepreneurs and businesses should join Bark to find new growth opportunities!
Professionals can visit www.bark.com/bizconnect and use coupon code IN-30GROW to get a 30% discount on their starter pack which also comes with the Get Hired Guarantee. Coupon valid until 30th June 2022.
THE INNOVATIVE WORK CULTURE
Bark operates in a dynamic environment, catering to customers and professionals in many varied services. It needs the team to be on its toes, always stay updated with the changing situations and adapt fast to ensure top-class service to the users. They have ingrained adapting to changes and coming up with solutions to new challenges deeply into their organizational culture.
It has helped the Bark team to expand and grow immensely in newer markets. For example, when the company was launched in India, they had to quickly figure out ways to help professionals to pay via UPI, and e-wallets, and they did roll that out fast and efficiently. In addition, employees are encouraged to try out new things to hit clear targets and are rewarded when these are achieved.
The business is all about efficient tech, backed by quality people at Bark. They invest considerable time and resources to ensure that they onboard the right people for each profile. Their organisation is growing at a rapid pace and getting the right staff is the key determining factor in keeping with the growth speed.
ADVICE FOR THE NEW ENTREPRENEURS
“Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment”. So, focus on encouraging an environment where mistakes are part of the learning and development process for colleagues.
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