Customer service done right

Recently, I sent a mail to Airbnb, requesting a feature that I believe would benefit me and other customers of their service. Here's what happened:

What I expected from my experience with similar mails to other companies, except some small start-ups, was this:

  1. I would receive an automatic reply confirming the receipt of my request.

  2. After a couple of days or even weeks I would receive something along the lines of:

Thanks for your feedback, we will add it to a list for future consideration.

Here’s what happened instead:

  1. A (useless) automatic reply never arrived.

  2. After a couple of hours I received this mail from Airbnb:

    Hello Claus, I hope you’re having a wonderful day. My name is Mai and it is a pleasure to assist you today. I see that you are currently on a trip in Denmark. That’s awesome! How are you enjoying it? Do you like your listing? I hope that you have had and will continue to have awesome travelling experiences here on Airbnb. I see that this is your first time writing in to us. I would like to take the time to personally welcome you to the Airbnb community! There are so many opportunities to meet new, exciting people and I’m happy that you will be able to experience that.

    At this time, there isn’t an option [like you asked for]. I think that is a very excellent idea. I will submit your feedback to the department that is in charge of making changes on our site.

    We are always working to improve our products and policies, and we encourage our users to provide their feedback. Even when unable to accommodate all requests, Airbnb truly values user feedback – your voice is both powerful and essential.

    Also, I would like to mention our blog where you can provide your feedback as well. As recently as July 25th, we moved forward and made changes thanks to the feedback of our users and the Airbnb team. Here is the link to the blog as well as some posts I think you would like to read:

    Blog: http://blog.airbnb.com/
    Moving forward with your feedback: http://blog.airbnb.com/moving-forward-feedback/

    Once again, welcome! Airbnb is full of interesting and wonderful people from all walks of life, and we’re always happy to hear from you. Your feedback is on its way! If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me and I will be more than happy to assist you.

    Maiphuong N
    www.airbnb.com/help

    TO RESPOND TO THIS TICKET, REPLY TO THIS EMAIL

Now, I don’t assume their representatives spend a lot of time writing all this by hand, obviously most of these snippets can be fully automated and inserted with a couple of clicks. But does it matter? To me, and I guess their average customer too, this mail is so much more of a positive “wow!” experience than the boring example at the top of this post.

What I think Airbnb is doing right here:

  • Greet the customer by name
  • Relate to recent activity
  • Ask general questions about satisfaction
  • Acknowledge that this is the first contact with customer service
  • Make sure the mail is legible on both desktop and mobi* Greet the customer by name
  • Relate to recent activity
  • Ask general questions about satisfaction
  • Acknowledge that this is the first contact with customer service
  • Make sure the mail is legible on both desktop and mobile devices
  • Paragraph lengths that make sense and improve readability
  • Provide relevant links
  • Allow the customer to respond by mail instead of having to click a link to a form (or even worse, make them log in to reply)
  • Mention the representative’s name at the beginning and end of the mail le devices
  • Paragraph lengths that make sense and improve readability
  • Provide relevant links
  • Allow the customer to respond by mail instead of having to click a link to a form (or even worse, make them log in to reply)
  • Mention the representative’s name at the beginning and end of the mail

I think a lot of companies, small or large, could improve their customer’s experience by following just some of these simple steps, which might contribute to longer customer retention, improved conversion rates and more recommendations, likes and shares.

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