Recently I listened to a fascinating podcast interview with the Co-Founder and CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky. During the interview, Mr. Chesky described how they modeled the experience for their customers and made a dramatic improvement in the services they offered to their customers.
He started by first traveling to his customers and meeting them face-to-face, asking them what they like and dislike about using Airbnb. He then sat down with his team and identified a single customer and modeled an experience based on a star system like you see hotels use. It is important to note that he focused on one customer, not all customers.
Chesky highlighted this concept by saying “in order to scale, you have to first do things that don’t scale at all.”
Start From the Bottom
The first step began with a 1 Star Experience; imaging the worse travel experience they could think of. In the 1 star experience, the guest arrived at the Airbnb property. No one was there to greet them or let them in the door. The steps gradually elevated to a 5 Star Experience (for instance, something you might find at a fine hotel).
The experience did not stop there but continued to a 10 and even 11-star Experience, which included a live band, floats and balloons and even Elon Musk greeting you on the runway to take on a ride in his rocket ship.
While I believe Mr. Cheskey was not seriously considering the rocket ship ride with Elon Musk to be included in a two-night Airbnb stay, it did allow them to stretch the limits of their imagination and consider how they could provide an elevated Airbnb experience for their customers – maybe even a 7 Star experience.
Learning to Provide a Seven Star Experience
This interview made me think about what I may have done with my former Integration business to create a more memorable experience for my clients. I then pondered the question; how could I have delivered a 7 Star experience to my clients?
When I had my company, I would try to deliver a memorable and enjoyable experience for my clients. This began with the initial consultation and first meeting, remembering you only get one chance to make a great first impression.
The day would begin by personally cleaning every inch of my showroom: vacuum, mop, scrub toilets, empty wastebaskets in public areas, etc. I would also cook some fresh popcorn and stock up the refrigerator with plenty of cold beverage options.
“Additionally, I included some movie tickets with my contact details printed on them to give out to their friends for referral purposes.”
All systems were tested beforehand and movies were cued up for demo tracks. Good preparation avoids heavy perspiration! The small details also make a BIG difference!
During the course of the project, I would make a point to check in with my clients and their builders (especially anyone involved in making the referral) to provide updates on the project. People like to be informed. The opposite is also true that people don’t like to be uninformed or guessing about what is going on, especially when making a significant investment.
At the end of the project, I would schedule a time to visit the home and provide a personal demonstration of the system operation. When I arrived at the home, I would also bring a custom-made popcorn bowl with a few DVDs, popcorn packages, and movie candy. The bottom of the bowl also included my company name and contact details.
Additionally, I included some movie tickets with my contact details printed on them to give out to their friends for referral purposes. This was my gift to the client to kick off their experience with the new entertainment system I designed and installed for them – thanking them for choosing my company.
I heard many times from clients that this made a lasting impact on them, after a long and often grueling building process.
Commenting that they had gone way over budget on the house, with any unexpected costs and it was a delight to receive an unexpected gift at the end. I still visit many of my old clients (as friends now) and they still use the popcorn bowls.
The first Wednesday of every month I would call every client I finished a project in the month prior, to ask them how the system was functioning. Follow up questions would include:
- Are you having any issues?
- Do you have any questions or concerns?
- Would you like some further training?
- Are you using and enjoying your system?
My ultimate goal was to ensure every client used and enjoyed their system – every day!
At the end of the project, I would ask my clients to write a simple letter and send it to me, sharing their comments about working with my company. I had a whole wall in my showroom, proudly displaying these letters for countless happy clients.
Now that I reflect on those days, I have pride in the experience I delivered to many of my delighted customers, but also wonder what I could have done differently to make the experience more memorable. What would my 7-star experience be for my clients? What is yours? I challenge you to pick one client and model your 7-star experience for them. I would love to hear what it includes.
I would love to hear from you. Please email me anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pete Baker has had numerous successful roles in the industry: Founder of a leading Integration Company, Licensed Low Voltage Technician, System Designer, Programmer, Keynote speaker, CEDIA Subject Matter Expert, guest contributor for a dozen different publications worldwide, International Sales Manager for several CE Brands, and VP of sales for a leading Control System Manufacturer.