New heights of language absurdity

in
Oregon City, OR
Level 10
734 Views

Had to contact CS to authorize refund for guest cancellation (because the "authorize refund" button went away).

 

Two CS reps later I was treated to a new height of absurdity in the florid language style of current reps:

 

"I hope this message finds you in great health and spirit despite this panic-stricken season of the year."

 

Thanks... but, WTH?

41 Replies

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Lisa723  Must be part of Catherine Powell's announcement of how they were "upleveling" CS to be more empathic towards hosts. Jeez.

 

Panic-stricken season? Just as everyone is starting to breathe a sigh of relief as more and more people are vaxxed and restrictions eased? This must have been generated by their Inappropriate Messaging  Dept.

Gag me.

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
Mount Barker, Australia
Level 10

@Lisa723  @Sarah977 

 

Bang on Lisa, it's not about 'how can I help you'....it's more about, 'I am going to suck up to you just in case I can't help you'!

Personally, this was one of the gems that were offered to me some time ago when I had a contactability issue with a potential guest.

 

** 

 

Okay, the problem was stated during my interaction with the 'Bot'. CX came to the table and told me how important I was to Airbnb.....Sounds just like something out of a CEO's speech, doesn't it.

And then, how did CX solve my problem?

"It can be hard keeping up with the growing pace of technology these days"

There you go, problem solved. The next thing I heard a few hours later was the rep would be out of the office for a couple of days. Thanks CX, what a great bit of problem solving!

 

Cheers.......Rob

 

 

**[Message from CS removed in line with - Community Center Guidelines]

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Robin4  I just went through something similar with Comcast (internet/cable provider).    Of course, you can't directly call CS - you have to respond to a bot, who then sends you a link to select from a series of responses "to reach a CS rep who can best assist you", and then you leave a callback number.   They did, actually, call me back. 

 

For an hour I went around and around on the phone with CS, misunderstanding me, offering the incorrect solution, and then, finally, offering to escalate to the department who can probably help me (24 - 72 hours for a callback). She asked what the best time window was to call me. I said "morning". They called a day later in the afternoon.

 

She then had the gall to ask if she had "solved my problem". I said "no". She proceeded to argue with me, saying of course she solved the problem by passing me to the right department ! 

 

2 minutes after I hung up I got a customer satisfaction survey. 

 

They, of course, know the surveys are going around, so their mission isn't to help solve the problem, but to try to make you like them.

 

Do you think Airbnb and Comcast contract with the same third party providers ?

 

Postscript: I'd solved the problem myself by the time I got the callback.

Comcast, by the way, is notorious for having about the worst CS on the planet. 

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
Mount Barker, Australia
Level 10

@Michelle53 

It is more than probably that there is a common third party link for Airbnb and Comcast.

Airbnb do to my knowledge use four external support providers and these external companies specialise in supplying support roles, which they do for a number of companies.

From what you have described Michelle, there is a commonality in the support  structure between Comcast and Airbnb........who knows, you could be right!

 

I always thought it was government departments that had the worst CS on the planet!

 

Cheers.......Rob

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Michelle53  I had to contact Scotiabank this week on their CS line to get them to courier me a new debit card. While I only had to wait about 10 minutes listening to the Musak on speaker phone before being connected to a rep (this was Scotiabank Canada- the reps I talked to were in Columbia and India), and the reps were almost all quite nice and trying to be helpful, it took hours and multiple calls.

 

The first rep I spent 45 minutes with, and was just at the point of giving her the address to send the card to when we got disconnected.

 

The second rep I of course had to explain everything all over to, and got the delivery set up. She said it would be expedited and arrive in 2 business days.

 

When it didn't arrive, I called again, and the agent in India, whose accent I struggled to understand, told me he couldn't tell me which courier service it was, or give me a tracking number, but that it would be delivered tomorrow.

 

It wasn't.

 

The fourth rep said it was absurd that the previous rep had told me he couldn't give me the tracking info, said it was DHL and gave me a tracking number.

 

I called DHL who told me that wasn't the right tracking number- it had to be 10 digits, mine had 9.

 

The fifth Scotiabank rep told me that was the case number that I had been given, not the tracking number and gave me the tracking number.

 

I phoned DHL again, who told me it was in their warehouse and would be delivered sometime in the next 5 days. When I told her this was an expedited document that was supposed to have been delivered yesterday, she said she couldn't do anything about that. I asked her to confirm that it wouldn't be delivered that day, as I had been at home for the past 2 days waiting for this, as it was something I was required to personally sign for, and really needed to go out shopping. She assured me it wouldn't be delivered that day, so I drove to Costco, an hour from my house. Half an hour after I left, my neighbor phoned to say DHL had just delivered my document. Luckily, she gets a lot of DHL deliveries, so the driver knows her and I sometimes sign for her deliveries if she's not home, so even though he wasn't supposed to, he let her sign for mine.

 

Air Canada is also known for their abyssmal customer service. 

 

 

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Sarah977    In a previous life, I used to work in consulting. There'd be annual conferences with a set agenda, and then presenters offering breakout sessions on a variety of topics of interest, often presented by vendors. 

 

My guess is that most of the VPs of Customer Service attend these conferences, and someone presents a topic called "Customer Service in the 21st Century - AI" and then everyone buys their service offering afterwards. 

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Robin4  I think from now on, when we can't avoid having to deal with CS, we should start all our messages to them:

 

"First of all, I just want to thank you for being an Airbnb customer support rep. We hosts all know how hard you work, answering messages from frustrated and irate hosts and guests all day. It's perfectly understandable that you would want to get rid of us  ASAP by saying whatever pops into your head at the moment, regardless of whether it is helpful or correct, or true. And of course we understand that you require multiple days off every week from such a stressful job, so I'm totally prepared for you to tell me you will be away from your desk for a couple of days immediately after you reply to my issue with a canned response. No problem, we get it. And thanks again for taking time out of your day to attend to the job you are being paid for."

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
Mount Barker, Australia
Level 10

@Sarah977 

Sarah, I feel sure that would go straight over their head, the support rep would think you were patting he/she on the back! Your subtlety is not something they would put in the mix!

 

My issue in that instance was, my response to that guests enquiry would not go through. I tried three times to satisfy Airbnb's response algorithm without success.......each time I hit reply, my message just disappeared.

I was able to respond to other messages, just not that particular one. Subsequent to my exchanges with CX the entire message stream with the potential guest disappeared and from that point there has been no record of it, or that guest enquiry. My first reaction was the guest had done something wrong and Airbnb were suspending or closing his account. All I wanted was an explanation. I didn't want to be told how hard it was to keep up with technology!

 

As you know Sarah, I have this fetish for taking screenshots of everything because, strange things happen. You no doubt remember I had two entirely unrelated Airbnb guests arrive at my property with confirmed reservations for the same night!!! You have to cover every conversation. That is why I take screenshots, at times they do become my only record.

 

Sarah, I truly don't know where we go these days, easy stuff I can sort out myself and I don't approach CX for help. But I don't have access to some parts of the program to be able to assist myself and that is when we need the help of a competent support team.

My feeling is they don't have access to any more of the programming than I do, all they can do is give their advice and hope for the best!

 

Cheers.......Rob

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
Balearic Islands, Spain
Level 10

@Robin4 

 

No it doesn't. I've responded something like that before. I usually just receive an "offended" response, like "well then, I won't waste your time".

 

I know a bit about outsourced support centers. Their job is to follow a list of procedures. Nothing more, nothing less. It's all written out for them on a "cheat sheet". Few actually know much about the businesses they're supporting. They're just following instructions. 

 

The support centers are usually understaffed to keep costs down. They push the "agents" to handle as many incoming requests per hour as possible. There's often rewards for those who open and close the most requests per hour. They have varying native languages, but the job requires English, so they do their best with that. But they also process incomings in their native language. 

 

They're instructed to open with the messages you always get. Something complimentary and disarming (it's on the cheat sheet). Now they have x-amount of time to close the case "successfully" ("success" can be defined in many ways). 

 

So, as far as they're concerned, they're only trying to help you, but as quickly as possible, to knock your case off their list to meet their minimums.

 

They don't have time for things that aren't directly relevant. They don't care if you're angry. They just need to get you off their list, leaving you as happy as they can, within the limitations of what's on the cheat sheet.

 

Often, they'll just pass you on to someone else. That also can be a mark against them, so they really only want to do that if they can't effect your issue with something on their cheat sheet. But usually it's not important unless the only thing they do is pass it to someone else. The system keeps stats on all that, so they need to keep their percentages as low as possible. 

 

More experienced agents will deliberately up their stats by simply sending a link to some policy covering your issue, and mark it as closed. It's on the cheat sheet. Next issue please... 

 

So, I'm inclined to suspect all these disconnected messages are simply the result of assembly line outsourced support.

 

When business gets too big to handle internally, it's quantity, not quality that counts. 

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
Mount Barker, Australia
Level 10

@Elaine701 

I know all that Elaine, I worked in Airbnb support for the year of 2017. I know precisely the way support used to run.

In those days we were called 'Experts' because we had a substantial knowledge of the way Airbnb runs. My customer satisfaction rate ran around 90% +

**

 

Despite that I was still only ranked 119th in the Expert pool.

 

Support these days is not what it was then, I can assure of that Elaine.

 

Cheers........Rob

 

**[Sensitive information removed in line with - Community Center Guidelines]

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
Balearic Islands, Spain
Level 10

@Robin4 

 

Well, I wasn't aware you used to do that. And I'm surprised your rating was only 90%. You're amongst the most knowledgeable contributors here. 

 

But yes, we've been with Airbnb religiously since... (I'd have to check my profile) well, 2008 or something. And until just a few years ago, it was a really great company. I was rather in awe. 

 

But all good things eventually sour, right? It begs the question though, looking at other silicon valley monsters such as apple, who've also had some rough goings, still manage to stay at the top of the hill? I predicted apple would lose its appeal long ago. But there they are.. Still the one to beat. 

 

Airbnb may still be the one to beat, but I'm not certain they can sustain it. They certainly have great marketing, and perception is everything. But there's certainly some holes that some bright entrepreneur or mega goliath travel outfit can still exploit. VRBO is doing their best to exploit Airbnb weaknesses, but so far, with limited success. We shall see.

 

In any case, aside from the (surprising) continuous stream of enquires coming in from Airbnb (which, when compared to your era,  translate to about half the desirable bookings nowadays), whether that alone can adequately fulfill my needs is questionable. I prefer quality over quantity. And I'll welcome that when it comes knocking... 

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
Mount Barker, Australia
Level 10

@Elaine701 

Elaine I also have my listing on another platform but I have it snoozed there. I guess you could say that is my plan B, if Airbnb goes totally off the rails for me I do have somewhere else to retreat to and remain active.

 

When I said I had a 90 +% satisfaction rate, it varied from week to week. I had good weeks, I had not so good weeks....but I was always above 85%. If you enlarge that screenshot by clicking it you will see my satisfaction rate that week was 98%!

What that meant was, for every 100 enquiries I took on there was only two I could not satisfy and had to pass on to the company. 

 

Elaine, it is thankless work.....everyone who came to us has a problem and most of them are angry, they want you to validate a mistake they have made.

I logged off at around 2.30 am one night, went down to Ade and said...."I am not going to log on tomorrow", and I didn't.

I am a support person for my wife, her legs don't work any more, and there is only so much support one can give in this life. It takes a special person to work in customer support and I am afraid in the end, I just did not have enough support to go around and keep doing it!

 

Cheers........Rob 

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
South Korea
Level 10

@Lisa723 

Looks like a really bad but accurate, word-for-word translation 😂 

Re: New heights of language absurdity

in
Oregon City, OR
Level 10

@Jessica-and-Henry0 I'm sure you must be right. I didn't think of that!

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