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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Power of On-Demand Tutoring

Below is an email we got out of the blue yesterday from one of our customers. Read on for some thoughts from me after you digest the email...

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From: {masked}[mailto:{masked}@{masked}.com]
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 2:55 PMTo: Bart Epstein
Subject: Great Work!

Bart,

I just wanted to say "Thank you" for you and your outstanding company.

When we started our tutor.com account for our two daughters they were in serious trouble with their grades. We tried private tutors and had minimal success. It was not until I grew frustrated and found your company on the internet that I decided to give online tutoring a try.

We just received the girls preliminary grades for this year and have noticed a huge turnaround in their overall grades and confidence in their work.

I was truly surprised by their comfort level of going online and learning from a "computer" tutor and was also very happy that it took no effort on my part to push them to go online when they needed help.

The customer service and support has been first class and the tutors are top notch.

We are thrilled to be part of the Tutor.com family.

Thank you,
GM

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We have a hard drive full of hundreds of thousands of thankful comments from the post-session surveys that our students complete, so we know we're helping lots of kids. But because all of our tutoring happens online and one session at a time, the full impact we have on a student's life is often hidden from us. So when we get emails like this, it means a lot and makes a real impact on me and our team.

Reviewing stories like this and digging deeper into the student experience has led us to an interesting conclusion: what makes Tutor.com great and revolutionary is NOT that we are the best "online tutoring" service.

The real value that we are providing to parents and students in a way that has not been possible before and no other tutoring company does like us is this: students who use Tutor.com Direct get help the moment they need it, without letting the learning moment slip away.

We are "On Demand Tutoring", not just "Online Tutoring".

You may be saying, what's the difference?
Huge difference: You no longer have to spend weeks finding the right tutor for each subject. You no longer have to schedule your session with a tutor days or weeks in advance. You don't have to save up all your questions during the week for a session next Tuesday. You don't have to wait until you bring home a bad grade or a failing test.

You can now get help right away, on any subject, at that point of pain when you're stuck on an algebra homework problem, confused by a chemistry question you know will be on tomorrow's test, or trying to get a head start on an essay due next week. This changes everything -- no more staying frustrated, miserable, and no one there to help you solve your problem and regain your confidence.

Allow me to illustrate with a few examples from other products and services--

  • When you're stuck and frustrated: You want Tutor.com On Demand Tutoring ..... vs. ..... Schedule face to face or online tutoring
  • When you're hurt and bleeding: You want an Emergency room doctor's attention ..... vs. ..... Wait for next week's appointment with your doctor
  • When you need cash tonight: Visit your local ATM immediately ..... vs. ..... Wait until the bank opens tomorrow
  • When you're on a balance beam and need help: Getting an occasional friendly push to stay balanced and on track ..... vs. ..... Picking yourself up off the floor after you've fallen.
  • When you want to keep your car in good shape: Getting a cheap preventative oil change and fluids checked ..... vs. ..... Paying a ton to have the engine rebuilt
  • When you want to buy a great new song: Find it, buy it, and download just that song from iTunes ..... vs. ..... Visit a record store and buy the entire CD.

In our world of Instant Messaging, eBay, and Google, students and parents have a right to expect a new level of service from their tutors and educators. The days of having no choice but to wait for your scheduled weekly appointment with the same tutor or learning center are over, because you can get the help you need when you need it through Tutor.com Direct.

That, I believe, is the reason that parents like the one above are thrilled by "On Demand" Tutoring, and most of them don't yet realize why. Sure, online and IM-like technology is cool, and kids love it. But the real reason kids love us is that there's a real, live, trained, subject expert waiting to help them, one-to-one. Kids really appreciate that kind of attention. And getting that kind of help any time it's needed can make the difference between a confident A student and a frustrated C student.

-- George Cigale, CEO Tutor.com, gcigale@tutor.com