DIBI conference 2017 - Vibha Bamba




Vibha is a senior product designer at Airbnb. Her design work is focused on making sure that every guest on Airbnb has a great trip and every host feels supported in their journey. Prior to this, she worked at Wikipedia where she worked on desktop typography, mobile web, iOS and Android apps while engaging with a huge community of readers and editors. She is passionate about typography and conducts workshops to increase type awareness among students.

Vibha explained her experiences of “designing for expectations and anticipation”. Her team looks at both the guest and the hosts perspectives, using themes of expectations, perception, dialogue, and self-awareness. Vibha discussed how every city, host and home in the world was unique, and translated a variety of individual guest personals that travel into strangers homes. This could be somewhere local or perhaps a foreign culture, however there are always moments of anticipation, uncertainty and often submission that need to be highly considered during the Airbnb experience.

Vibha's talk focused on how the guest feedback process has been developed to improve reviews, star ratings and provide better feedback for hosts. Hosts were found to be leaving mixed reviews on the same host, experience and room, which left researches and host baffled. Another common trend was that guests were leaving poor star ratings, good reviews and no feedback for hosts to improve. The team quickly arranged focus groups from both users to discover why this was happening. 

The team discovered that guests providing feedback was often too vague as they didn't want to upset the host by being too specific. The host also raised that the feedback can often be too specific, right down to personal taste or un-actionable results (e.g No pool?!). The team simplified some feedback features on the site and introduced a tagging system to specify items, rooms, quality ect. This made it much quicker to leave useful feedback and in turn reduced the amount of negative reviews, as users were providing feedback instead of bad experiences. 

Vibha also touched upon a problem they are currently tackling 'Cost vs Quality'. The price of Airbnb is often very competitive and dependant on location, city centre or close to an airport. One guest had no where to stay after a flight got cancelled and booked a room. This guest left a great review as he was relieved to find a nice clean room at last minute. However, a lady that booked this room months ago for a vacation left a very negative review. When asked why, she explained that she had developed certain expectations of the room and after months of anticipation the room did not deliver. Customer expectation is something that is very difficult to manage within the review system. Surely cost should effect expectation, but we find the cost can often be forgotten.

Vibha mentioned an app called Lyft, a carpool app that allows people to share a taxi with other passengers on their route for a cheaper fair. Passengers have an option to jump in on other riders journeys or create their own journey that can collect passengers on their selected route. Lyft found that passengers being collected loved the service and found it great value for money. However passengers that created a route complained that the taxi service veered off route, or journeys took too long. This was due to the user forgetting about the cost of this service and judging the experience. So how do we lower the users expectations? Ikea do a great job of taking their customers on a specific journey to do so.

They sell the dream!

They take you through the warehouse!

Which preps you for the home building process!

Because IKEA implement these steps they lower the customers expectations which intern reduces disappointment and reminds the customers the value and cost of the item.