Videotaped User Testimonies Improve Customer Service Performance, Says Manager at Airbnb

As big data drowns out the human element, action must be taken to add a more personal level to customer feedback in order to encourage empathy, said Raj Sivasubramanian

Elihay Vidal 16:1802.12.19

As big data and artificial intelligence become a regular part of the daily work of customer experience teams, one must remember the importance of the human element, according to Raj Sivasubramanian, customer experience insights manager at Airbnb. Sivasubramanian spoke Monday at Calcalist's Service in the New Era conference held in Tel Aviv, in collaboration with Tel Aviv-listed supermarket chain Shufersal Ltd.


Sivasubramanian, who heads one of Airbnb's Voice of the Customer programs, explained that while the amounts of data the industry now generates can result in many insights, the mass of information can sometimes prove detrimental to the work of the teams. Data becomes numbers, graphs, tables, and memos. Therefore, the way to drive people to action is to encourage their empathy towards both the problem and the client, he said.

Raj Sivasubramanian. Photo: Orel Cohen Raj Sivasubramanian. Photo: Orel Cohen


The solution he found to promote empathy was using videos that consumers filmed as feedback, Sivasubramanian said. Anytime either a guest or a host contacted Aribnb's customer service, Sivasubramanian's team would send back a satisfaction questionnaire within 48 hours. Airbnb receives some 2 million such questionnaires back a year, but usually that information gets lost inside the organization, Sivasubramanian said, leading them to the conclusion that they must find a way to "breathe life" into the responses received.


They chose video because it is a tool that has been taking up increasing cultural space, and because social media has normalized its use, Sivasubramanian said. Combining video and dry data has enabled Airbnb to add a more personal level to user feedback and thus increase the empathy of their customer service personnel.