Sick of filling out computer questionnaires? Want a matchmaker more like Patty Stanger, aka the Millionaire Matchmaker, who will personally size up potential candidates (if her reality show is to be believed, often in humiliating terms)? Well, look no further than that the workhorse of the online dating world, eHarmony.
On Tuesday, Dr. Neil Clark Warren, eHarmony’s founder, announced EH+–its first product that uses human intervention for the more “complex cases” of the lovelorn. In a revelatory admission, the founder acknowledged that while many couples have found wedded bliss after meeting on eHarmony (approximately 600,000 couples at last count), some 70% of its users say they are not satisfied with the online matchmaking site.
“This means we still have far to go,” said the founder, who has been married for 55 years.
True love definitely doesn’t come for free, though. The service will cost $5,000 per year. “Many people don’t find that amount too much to pay to find the love of their life,” said Warren.
During this week’s DreamForce conference for Salesforce.com, Clark and his team announced that eH+ offers personalized service to customers who may not have the time or energy to wade through potential matches on their own. These customers are also willing to spend the annual subscription fee to have a human matchmaker with a background in psychology help them make meaningful connections, and ultimately meet their soul mates.
The Santa Ana, Calif. company quietly launched a soft rollout of the service in January, but did not make a nationwide press announcement, noted sales executive Jane Riley. The business would not release exact figures but did say that several hundred customers have signed up for the new service.
When a person emails the company during business hours, a sales rep will return with a phone call within two minutes. If you call outside the stated times, someone will call the next day to explain what eH+ entails. And if you agree to the terms, you get your own dating coach who will examine your profile to match you up with a potential suitor, call you with the findings, and set up the date. “It’s all very personalized,” said Riley. “People will text their matchmaker after the date, explain what happened, and ask advice on what to do next.” Some clients use Skype to talk to their coaches, others can request a face-to-face meeting if they live nearby.
According to Riley, the sales reps and all the matchmakers are staff employees and do not work remotely or overseas.
When clients sign up, they fill out the same questionnaire as the regular eHarmony users. Matches are made within this dating pool in addition to those who are on eH+. Since the company has a proven compatibility matching system, it only makes sense to use it with the premium service, according to Riley.
Plans for the near future include opening the phone lines so sales reps can respond to email requests seven days a week instead of five. Since eHarmony has never hired a sales team before, it has had a learning curve of its own. Partnering with Velocify, a vendor of online sales tools, eHarmony has had to train sales reps regarding how to gently work with potential clients who are probably sensitive about the whole issue.
So even with optimal scientific processes and mathematical formulas associated with online dating, it is clear that the human touch is still needed. Said the white-haired grandfatherly founder, “To find that perfect mate is not easy. It seems like you are looking for an invisible needle in a haystack.” With eH+, Warren is attempting to make the invisible visible.