My Airbnb Experience

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Some of you will recall that I recently went to Cape Town on a speaking engagement cum vacation. During the conference I had to stay in a hotel in Century City as the event was taking place in the Century City Conference Centre. After the conference, I moved to an Airbnb accommodation that I had booked which was about 45 minutes away from the venue of the conference in Hout Bay.

When we got to the hotel, we made enquiries about the location and were told there had been a little unrest in the area and were advised to watch the situation before checking in. We called our host, relayed the message and were told that all was well. We then agreed on when we would check in, which was a few days after our payment was meant to kick in. This was fine by me as I wanted to observe the situation before checking in.

On the appointed day, we checked into the apartment. A lovely apartment on the third floor in a picturesque location on the bay. The view was to die for, with the mountains surrounding us, the sea, ships and boats. On checking in, we were given a tour of the apartment. When the caretaker left, we needed to cook. We then realized we could not put on the gas cooker nor operate the washing machine. We called the caretaker. He did not answer, so we left him a WhatsApp message.

After waiting a while without a response from the caretaker and saddled with two young adults telling me they were hungry and eager to eat Nigerian food, we tried to figure out why we could not operate the cooker, only to discover there was a cylinder under the sink which was a distance from the gas cooker that had to be turned on.

Like I said earlier, we checked into our apartment at 3:00 pm on the appointed day, sent the WhatsApp and call asking for instructions about how to use the appliances but did not get an answer to our request till the next afternoon. But, by then we had figured out how to use the appliances. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the apartment, the facilities and location. We ensured that we used the apartment well and left it as clean as we met it.

When we got to Nigeria, we were sent a message to review our stay. The usual practice is to give two levels of review for the host – public and personal. The guest is also reviewed by the host. I gave two nice reviews, but the one for the host only, I indicated the need to respond on time. Lo and behold, when we were reviewed, we were given a review that was not nice.

Immediately, my daughter went on twitter and sent a tweet that we just got back from Cape Town and had gotten a fallacious review. Airbnb picked up this tweet and engaged her to find out what happened. They told her to send them a mail using our Airbnb account to give a narration of our experience and what exactly happened.

We sent it to them that night, this was about 3 am. In less than an hour, we were given a customer service Executive to help us investigate what happened. The Executive engaged and corresponded with us, and promised she’ll get back to us as quickly as possible. Before morning, she came back to tell us that she had investigated and did not agree with the review we had been given and deleted the review from our record.

She ensured we were satisfied with her actions and patiently waited for us to verify that she had done all she said she would before signing off from the assignment. Two days later, we got a mail from Airbnb asking us if we were satisfied with the customer service experience and to rate the Executive who had been assigned to work with us. We gave her an excellent rating. I had not experienced that kind of customer service before.
To say I was blown away by the level of customer service I received, is an understatement. I was blown away for several reasons:

• The organisation cared enough about what you thought about them online and engaged with you without you having to go to their customer service site to log in a complaint. Many organisations, especially in Nigeria get complaints and comments in the air waves and do nothing about engaging with their customers to really understand what happened with the intention of taking proactive measures to solve the problem
• The speed at which they engaged was impressive. The time and attention also given to solving the problem was novel to me.

• A dedicated person was assigned to the issue and we were given a formal introduction and told that we should engage with her anytime we felt like, until the problem was sorted. Each time we sent her a mail asking or verifying an issue, she responded almost immediately
• The issue was duly investigated and she came back to give us a report on the steps she took to verify the assertion and why she came to the conclusion that she did in agreeing with us that the review was indeed fallacious.

I will like to implore organisations in Nigeria to take a cue from the example above. The organisation that can crack the customer service problem in Nigeria will be King.