The good news: companies of all shapes and sizes are implementing Voice of the Customer programs. The bad news: customers are being inundated with feedback surveys. Just this week, I’ve received survey requests from United Airlines, my veterinarian, my gym, and Airbnb. Airbnb’s was the only one I filled out. Here’s what Airbnb’s email invitation did right:
It addressed me in a friendly tone. Airbnb’s email opened up with “Hi Kerry,” which immediately set it apart from typical survey invites with more formal (and emotionally distant) language — like the “Dear Kerry Bodine:” salutation used by United (a company that should actually know me much more intimately than Airbnb does). Not only was this greeting effective at drawing me in, it subtly reinforced the new Airbnb brand value of belonging. (I wouldn’t expect anyone to say, “Hi Kerry,” to me in a place where I didn’t belong.)
It told me exactly how long the survey would take. “It’ll only take 3 minutes.” How long did the survey actually take? 4:08 from the time that I clicked the link in the email until I got to the “And you’re done!” page. Sure, this was a tad longer than promised three minutes, but I doubt that any customer without a stopwatch would notice the difference. (I also took screenshots as I went along, which probably added 30+ seconds to a normal person’s completion time.) Compare this to an email I got from Omni Hotels & Resorts several months ago that asked me to “take a few minutes to tell us what you think.” Five minutes into the survey I looked up at the status bar to find that I was only 20% through the survey — and promptly closed my browser tab.
It appealed to the reality of my life. Other companies’ email invitations say, “We would greatly appreciate it if you would take the time to complete a survey” (Westin) or politely command, “Please take a moment to let us know how we’re doing…” (United). But Airbnb’s email said something that I’ve never seen in any other survey invitation: “We appreciate how busy you are but if you can help us…” Wow. Yes, I am busy. And I really appreciate that you realize that, rather than just barging into my inbox and expecting me to drop everything to help you.
Startups like Airbnb have led the way in customer-focused innovation. Will they now lead the way to better Voice of the Customer programs?