How does Airbnb rate their service?
Apparently, using a 10 star system. Let me explain.
I’ve been starting to really love the way co-founder Brian Chesky describes unbelievable service.
After listening to him on an interview with Reid Hoffman, they dive into a specific section regarding a 10 star service. It’s an amazing interview for anyone selling a product.
In your mind, we know what constitutes a 1 star, 2 star, 3 star and 5 star service, but what if we focused even farther and developed 6 star and 7 star services?
It’s freaky, right?
The paradigm with customers today is 5 stars. The problem with 5 stars is you have to be really bad to get 4 stars. Reaching 5 stars is just being nice enough — we wanted to build a product that you loved so much you would tell everyone.
At Airbnb, we strive to have our customers contact the company and demand a 6th star be added to our 5 star review because the experience was so good. Here’s how we think about service past 5 stars:
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- 5* service — You leave the airport, go to the Airbnb, your hosts are in the house, they let you in. This is 5 star. Worse than this is if your host is late (4 star) and the worst is if your host never showed up (1 star).
- 6* service — the above + your host picks you up at the airport.
- 7* service — the above + there is a limo waiting for you at the airport and inside the limo are your favorite chips and coconut water.
- 8* service — There is a giant parade when you arrive at the airport and you are honored for coming.
- 9* service — The moment you step off the plane there are 5,000 screaming fans holding signs for your arrival — we call this the Beatles check-in.
- 10* service — I could go all the way up to 30 stars — I won’t, but 10 stars would be when you arrive and a Tesla with your name on it is waiting for you and in the car the driver is Elon Musk, and instead of your Airbnb Elon, takes you to outer space.
I exaggerated this to make a point but the principle is if what you need to do is find 100 people who love you — 5 star is what people expect. For them to love you, you need to do more than what they expect. We play out these scenarios all of the time — once you go up to 10 stars, 6 stars doesn’t seem so crazy anymore.”
So let’s translate it to food products. What would you consider a 7 star product? For calibration purposes, I’ll list from 1 star to 7 star.
1 Star Product.
A bowl of sour grapes. And they give you food poisoning.
2 Star Product
A bowl of unsalted beer nuts. Specifically sold to dive bars. Does its purpose, but at the minimum
3 Star Product
Chinese take out or heated meal where the chow mein is a bit too salty and the egg roll is a bit too brittle. The takeout is generic, maybe leaks a bit, but it’s not bad.
This is the equivalent of a dollar store granola bar. It does the job, but it’s not amazing.
4 Star Product
The local craft restaurant that just opens up serves a very simple menu and cooks the food really well. The meal you ordered is good, but is missing something but you can’t quite catch what it is. Service is ok, but could be better. Waiter seemed to have a bad day. Was an average dinner, but not the best.
To translate into a food product, it’s a product that has all of the macros you want. But the flavor is not the best. You have to eat it anyways to get the macros, but it’s more like taking medicine than an indulgence.
5 Star Products
When you enter this restaurant, you are graced with a sensory experience with bright colors, warm atmosphere, or anything that makes you feel welcomed. You are seated 1-20 minutes where there are candles and the waiter gets you started right away. When you ask the waiter for recommendations, he enthusiastically tells you to try the burrata cheese and you can tell from his expression he likes what he does.
Your food arrives promptly. Not too fast, not too slow. Ideally when you finish your bread and done making small talk. The food is plated and you notice something unique about your dish< This could be the portion, presentation, anything.
And then you taste it, and you get hit with a myriad of flavors that make the dish memorable and addicting. You will tell your friends about it and come back again sometimes.
In the consumer packaged goods realm, this would be a product that pops off the shelf and looks amazing. Whether it’s clean label or tells a great story, you initially buy it because of the label.
As you bite it, it tastes exactly like it says. The brownie protein bar actually tastes like brownie!
You end up buying more because it not only tastes good, but it’s convenient or healthy for you to eat it. Whenever someone asks you what to snack on, you immediately recommend this product.
In essence, rating a product 5 star means you are devoted to a product. However, you aren’t a fanatic. How can you become a fanatic? In my opinion, product alone can’t really do it. It’s more about connecting the experience of a great product so you will keep on coming back to it.
6 Star Product
As soon as you step into the restaurant, a man offers to take your coat and takes your hoddie. You go into a room where the table is set with a stunning ordament and the server asks what you want to drink.
Being the complex simpleton you are, you ask about the wine menu and ask for something earthy. The sommolie comes back with a wine and he tells you the year, the region, and something else you forgot.
He pours you a glass to taste and you like it. He fills your water glass with sparkling water.
As the night goes on, you and your guests order a cheese plate and they push out a cart of cheeses ranked form soft to hard. There are twenty cheeses but you have to choose 5. After you do so, you eat them and start to really appreciate cheese. And since they keep on filling up your wine glass, you start to appreciate wine as well.
The meal is also explained in great detail and they give you medallion sized portions because the idea is to taste rather than to consume. You eat a puff pastry with salmon and dill in a buttery lobster sauce and all of your senses collide together. Touch, Smell, Taste, Sight, Sound.
You have to order dessert. You drink so much wine, you don’t remember what you ate for desert.
The only time I experienced this was at Gary Denko in San Francisco. A 6 star experience is when you can write a story about it.
Can you make a food product like this? Well let’s try.
A package is sent to your house. When you open it, it’s a branded package of your favorite product line. Let’s say it’s Taco Bell.
Inside the box, they compartmentalized burritos, tacos, taco sauces, and in the center, a crunchwrap supreme. As you pick them up and share with your friends, you realize there is a secret compartment where there are 4 taco bell tank tops for you and your besties (Mild, Hot, Fire, Diablo) and they all fit you. Above those shirts are 4 snapchat glasses where you can take snaps of each other having fun.
Taco Bell contacts you next week to use your snaps as a media campaign.
7 Star Product
The restaurant orders a limo to pick you and your date up and drive you to the restaurant in the middle of town. The owner, head chef and staff are waiting for you two and roll out a reddish carpet. You walk in and are seated on the rooftop with all of the important guests. But since you are the most important guest, you are seated one step higher.
Live music is playing, a silver haired man in a tuxedo is playing on a grand piano. It’s a nice day outside.
The sommelier comes out with your favorite wine and pours it for both of you and starts with a 5 course tasting meal because you can’t pig out in these types of restaurants.
Each course represents a certain part of Italy and has something quite different about it. The first course starts with a VR headset, the second course changes colors, the third course is on fire, the fourth course requires you to eat with the musical score, the firth course requires you to dissolve the chocolate shell
When your date dissolves the chocolate shell, there’s an engagement ring in the center.
A 7 star CPG product is going to be tough to beat but here we go!
You are invited to the headquarters or innovation center of your favorite brand. Let’s say Coke-Cola for the sake of discussion. You then meet the scientists on board and you’re allowed to create your very own soda brand. Not only that, but there’s a video crew there to document the whole process.
You’re presented with a lot of flavors. Flavors that are so good, each of them accesses a specific feeling rather than a flavor. They are customized based off of a really good survey you took when you went though this endeavor.
You test the flavors, then choose the best one and add it into a soda.
Then you get to design the bottle. Using your artistic know-how, you are able to do anything you want. Write your name in Yellowtail font, add graffiti, anything.
Coke then puts in a work order of about 5000 cans of your specialty soda and they launch it. Everyone is hyped to try your soda, and they will tweet you when they find it.
If you haven’t noticed, the 6 and 7 stars imprints going the extra mile. They deliver an unforgettable experience that affects you for life. People do this in the CPG industry and maybe if you plan to do this, you should to. This is how you can get raving fans who will become devoted to your products.
This worked for me when I was invited to Taco Bell’s HQ and got a tour of Eataly in Los Angeles. I’m a huge fan on both products and I had to spend my money on their products because I know the great people behind them. In most situations, brands that make an individual person special provides a rippling effect. Just look at the Wendy’s nugget guy!