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Is Video Messaging the Future of Home Repair?

A new app lets you chat with your local handyman or plumber in real-time.

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Just as you’re about to leave for work, a pipe bursts in your home, or the toilet gets clogged, or the dishwater overflows. Suddenly, you’re faced with the frustrating task of tracking down a repairperson and waiting hours for him or her to arrive—and even then, you might get charged far more than the initial estimate.

The new app ClipCall, designed to connect users with local service professionals, aims to help home repair catch up to the digital age. Users upload a short video of the problem and the app circulates the query to professionals, who offer a quote.

“A picture is worth 1,000 words, and a video is 1,000 pictures a second, so that’s the best medium to collaborate,” says ClipCall’s CEO Daniel Shaked.

Backed by an accelerator program in the Silicon Valley, Shaked’s team has spent the last year developing a way to personalize the home repair process. “Every job is different by nature,” he tells CityLab. “It’s not a commodity. It’s not a product with a serial number. Everyone has a very special need.”

In fact, many customers have trouble diagnosing their own home repair issues, let alone finding the right person for the job. “A lot of customers will call in and say, ‘Hey I need to have my locks changed,’ when in fact they really need to have their locks re-keyed,” says Samuel Wilson, the president of 1-800-UNLOCKS, a locksmith service that works with ClipCall.

An important feature of the app is that users are only charged once a transaction has been completed. ClipCall also aggregates reviews from sites like Yelp and Google’s Local Guides to help customers make a more informed decision. (Once the app achieves a sufficient level of user engagement, their team plans to implement a rating system of their own.)

But an app like ClipCall also allows service professionals to assume greater control of their business. According to Shaked, most of these service workers are “very much offline people.” Even those who are tech-savvy still rely on pictures or a brief phone conversation to determine the necessary repairs. A video-based app streamlines this process by allowing workers to assess the problem in real-time without having to go online.

“It empowers the service pro to be a better businessman,” says Wilson. Although he acknowledges that many locksmiths are “old-school” when it comes to technology, Wilson predicts that most industry professionals will have to get on board with the idea or be left behind.

ClipCall app, free at the app store.

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