Let me start this by saying that this is not a design related story. Although, it is connected to it. However, this is more a digital shopping for products and services, customer support, human interaction and most important — trust related story.
Chapter I — Airbnb
Every time I relocate or go for holidays, the first website I visit to find a place is Airbnb. Yes, it's expensive. Most likely I would find something much cheaper on Craiglist or local room sharing websites. But the reason I choose Airbnb is because I trust them. I used the service few times and it never disappointed me. And I'm willing to pay those extra fees, thinking that choosing this service will cost me more money, but less stress. To stay peaceful, to feel secure is important to me.
As a product designer, I understood how important is trust and security for users, based on personal experience. Also, how important is for a brand to look trustworthy, and to prove it with their service or product. But the other, very important thing, is that as a customer you always expect company to understand your needs and to act accordingly. You want a product and a support team to be your buddies.
Chapter II — Uber
First time I heard about Uber was some years ago. It wasn't really popular in the city I lived, so I never used it. I was visiting Miami and had to take a cab next morning to the airport. My friend recommended me to get Uber. I heard about them, but naturally I had few doubts. My friend laughed and said they are absolutely trustworthy. Maybe even more than a regular taxi. So I believed and got an app.
Next morning a beautiful black car (more looking like a spaceship) stops at my door, just after 3 minutes I ordered a ride. I get in and look around me as if I was a kid in the ice cream factory. A driver notices, smiles and says: "You know, you're lucky, not all Uber cars in Miami are so posh." I laughed and look at the little table with ready-to-drink mineral water bottles and candies. It was my first ride and it costed me less than $15.
After that I used Uber some times in different parts of the world. Uber drivers were there with me in my most stressful situations too. Like once I confused my midnight flight from Tokyo and realised that plane is about to take off in an hour. My friends called me Uber, while I was desperately throwing my stuff into a luggage, still wearing my pijamas. My driver was not only professional in driving, but he was also a good therapist and made me feel calm. I made it to my flight on time.
However, some weeks ago I had a little stressful experience with Uber. I was at JFK, waiting for my driver, when he simply cancelled my ride and I was charged for it. I didn't give up, so I requested another ride. Another ride never came, but I was charged for it, as if I was in the car!
I got frustrated, of course, I gave up on Uber and took a yellow cab. I had a really bad experience with NYC taxi, but that's another story. The driver didn't know where to go (he said he doesn't trust his GPS) and he was turning round and round, when in the end the price for the ride was $70 (when it was estimated to be less than $35), with a discount of $10.
Later, I opened Uber app to see if there is anything I can do about it. I found it very quickly: I just needed to choose a problem (didn't even need to write it) and sent it to support. I was really surprised that I got my refund immediately! It erased all bad memories instantly and now I'm happily using Uber again.
And the reason is the trust. But probably most lovely, trust-related story happened to me with Amazon recently.
Chapter II — Amazon
I was dreaming of finally getting the famous Sprint book by Jake Knapp on the Amazon. I also ordered some good old Sharpies for sketching those new ideas and a lovely leather laptop case for my MacBook. I really wanted goodies to as fast as possible (impatience problems, I know, aren't we simply spoiled these days?) so I ordered a same day delivery. I had to attend one event in the city, but since it was written that parcel could arrive anytime before 9 pm, I decided to skip all plans and wait. I was working from home, and nobody else was there.
Later, in the evening, I had a Skype call with my old good friend, and left my phone upstairs. After 2 hours (yes, we girls sometimes talk a lot!) I found notification from Amazon that my parcel was delivered and left at the front door one hour ago. I rushed to take my goodies, I've been craving to open up, but nothing was there. I went outside, looked everywhere. Still nothing. The thing was, the carrier didn't even ring the bell. I felt very disappointed (mostly because it's really hard for me to spend all day at home without stepping out). But on the other hand, I felt pretty stupid too. Did they simply left my parcel at the door? There are many people passing by every minute, it's a snap to simply take it!
I contacted the support team and they suggested to wait another 24 hours, which I did, but nothing changed. I contacted them again after 2 days and they were super quick and kind to answer. They told me that they apologise and my refund will be issued soon.
Next day I placed my items again in the shopping cart and this time was planning to get them from Amazon locker in the neighborhood. However, my landlord got back home after holidays, so I got this intuition to ask regards the parcel, just in case.
I never ordered anything from Amazon to this place yet, so apparently there was a door below the stairs and a little corridor, where another tenant would usually pick the mail and parcels, because carriers knew we were not at home most of the time. And there it was — my parcel.
I immediately contacted the Amazon support team saying that I apologise, but my parcel came in the end and I would like to give the refund back to the Amazon. After I explained my story, a customer support worker said being amazed by my honesty and that it totally made their day. So they decided to leave it this way. In other words, I didn't have to pay anything for my parcel. Will I use this service again? You know the answer already.
Trust is a mutual thing. You want your customer to trust you, that's why you step out to trust them first.
Customer support cannot be overrated. People are looking for people to solve their problems, not machines. If a "relationship" between customer and service is based on trustworthy background, most likely it will all work out.
And last, but not least: there is no bad thing that doesn't turn into something good, or even better. So, perhaps we, as customers, instead of rushing into attacking the customer service, first should try to reach out gently and see what happens.
Have a lovely Friday everyone! 💖
Disclaimer: I do not have any business relationships with the brands I’m mentioning in this post, I don't even know anyone who is working there. This is an absolutely personal and sincere point of view.