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|Tuesday, August 2, 2011|
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What Your Brand Can Learn from Airbnb's Customer Service Crisis
The tech and startup media have been swarming with the story of EJ, a San Francisco Airbnb user who had her home completely ransacked and her identity essentially stolen by a recent guest.
EJ posted a blog entry on June 29 recounting the horrific details of her situation after renting her home for a week to a visitor through Airbnb, a Silicon Valley startup that connects private home owners who have spare rooms or short-term vacancies with travelers looking for homestay lodging.
It was another month before national media picked up her story, immediately following word of Airbnb’s recent round of $112M funding, with coverage initially appearing on Gawker, Business Insider, Hacker News, TechCrunch and Beta Beat – closely followed by USA Today, Financial Times, SF Gate, and countless others. To be frank, the situation makes for a compelling news story – a combination of a homeowner’s worst nightmare, and a tale of a promising startup faced with its first serious customer service conundrum.
In the month in between the initial blog post from EJ and the media frenzy that followed, Airbnb customer service was working with the homeowner to help her recover emotionally and financially and with the San Francisco Police Department to track down the criminals. They acknowledged to EJ that this was the first time in their history of more than two million rentals that this had happened. But the media started to speculate – where was Airbnb’s public acknowledgment of this situation?
That all came to a halt yesterday when Airbnb went on the record on their blog with a letter from CEO Brian Chesky who apologized for the incident and acknowledged that “we really screwed things up.” He openly said they should have “responded faster, communicated more sensitively, and taken more decisive action to make sure she felt safe and secure.”
Additionally, Airbnb has come out with a number of new policies and procedures to make sure nothing like this ever happens again, and if it does, that the homeowner is protected:
For Airbnb, this is truly a lesson in crisis management – the company’s “Tylenol moment” as one Forbes blogger put it – and there are a number of lessons that can be gleaned from this situation.
Make sure you didn't miss these great posts on the Text 100 blog! Have an idea for a post? Leave us a comment on the blog, tweet us @text100, post on our Facebook Page, or email Text 100's Global Community Manager, Amber Rinehard. We love your feedback!
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