Feedback on our "I can't help" feature!

Good morning everyone,

Your friendly neighbourhood Product Manager Natalie here! We’re taking a look at reasons why tutors can’t help students (we call it “mismatching” internally at Tutorful) in more depth to understand what’s working and what’s not working. We had a bit of a roundtable with some of our Customer Success team members and a tutor from the Community last week, and I thought I’d share the notes from that session, so that I can hear from you on your thoughts as well!

What do we mean by “mismatching”?
When a student/parent messages you through our messaging system, there may be times that you are unable to help that student for various reasons (the times don’t work, you don’t teach the subject/level, etc.), and we encourage you to use the “I can’t help” function in the upper right hand corner of the messaging thread.


Within Tutorful, we call this a “mismatch”, and we track the number of mismatches and types of mismatches we receive in order to ensure that our platform is working properly, that our students are getting the help they need, and that the tutor can properly express why they are unable to help. This is also where our Customer Success team can help tutors with their scores, if the “mismatch reason” is something that means a tutors’ score needs to be adjusted.

Mismatching - what problems does it solve?

  • If the tutor can’t help a student, both parties are aware that the tutor can’t help and why.
  • Students/parents are feeling out lots of tutors and may not know which tutors can’t help.
  • Allows Tutorful to track data and mismatching problems.
  • Tutor can easily communicate that they can’t help to the parent/student.

Mismatching - what issues does it cause?

  • No responses from students after the tutor has said they can’t help (and the tutor hasn’t used the “I can’t help” button), especially after the tutor has offered an alternative.
  • No follow-up with the original tutor to let them know the student has found an alternative ( is this something tutors would want to see? )
  • Students don’t research tutors as much as they should, so tutors are forced to “mismatch” (aka I can’t help) because the student hasn’t reviewed to see if the tutor is appropriate (has availability, can teach the subject/level, teaches in-person, etc.)
  • There are worries that scores are affected by using the “I can’t help” button (more on this below)
  • Tutors can’t see what a student sees in the messaging thread/dashboard, so are unable to see how mismatches may be received/seen by the student
  • The term “mismatch” is confusing, maybe we need a different name?
  • Missing reasons/not enough reasons/lack of nuance
  • Tutors who have more strict availability deal with a lot of contact that isn’t always going to come to fruition, so potentially mismatching helps with that?
  • If tutors say they can’t help due to lack of availability, they are unable to provide an alternative or suggest another time.

Next Steps

  • We’d love to hear from you! Are the issues we’ve listed above accurate? Are we missing issues that saying “I can’t help” are causing? How would you prefer it work/what are we missing?
  • Tutorful dev teams will start working through some solutions to the issues raised above, watch this space for more info to come!

Thank you so much for all your time and thoughts, they are much appreciated, as always!

Kind regards,

Natalie :slight_smile:


I’ve had some students contact for subjects or levels that I don’t teach (primary English and maths when I only teach English, or TEFL teaching, for example), so that’s the main time I say I can’t help.
Also, some tutors may not be as confident teaching a child with specific SEN needs maybe?

I’ve had to say I can’t help to lots of students who message but don’t actually want tuition or have unrealistic expectations. This is almost exclusively a problem with degree level requests.

Many people want direct help with an exam or assignment, which I obviously can’t do. Others seem to genuinely want tuition in a topic so they can do the work themselves or prepare for an exam, but want it in an incredibly specific subtopic and/or in a tiny amount of time. I don’t think there’s an easy solution or even a clear term for for this other than it being unreasonable. Maybe a mismatch saying that more planning time would be needed.

A similar problem is when they don’t give enough information even when asked. Saying they want help with genetics (for instance) could mean any number of things at degree level, but I think many students believe it’s like school/college where there’s a set specification.

My recommendation/request would be to have separate pages on profiles for different levels (currently my profile is aimed at everything between GCSE and degree), but that’s a little outside what you’re asking.


youve hit the proverbial nails on their heads