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Six Sigma Leadership Profile: Airbnb

Founded less than a decade ago, Airbnb has ridden a wave of success since its market debut. A testament to the flexible needs of modern consumers, this illustrates what we call “collaborative consumption.” This is where customers, specifically travelers, share, swap, or rent someone else’s possessions, namely their homes. Airbnb allows travelers, instead of staying in a hotel, to rent a person’s house with all their belongings in it. These days, many people want the experience of a home away from home, and Airbnb caters to that demand. Not only is this a fundamentally innovative idea, but its simplicity ensures substantial profits with minimal work. Discover how the world’s largest hospitality company uses Six Sigma, and all without owning a single bed.

 

Customer Focus

 

Airbnb takes advantage of the sharing economy’s popularity. Respect for customer expectations lies at the heart of their business practices, with their strong customer-focus overlapping with Six Sigma. One of several driving factors behind Airbnb’s success is the high rate of customer satisfaction they enjoy. Not only from those staying in the properties but also the owners who rent them out. Their motto is “A community build on trust,” which signifies some strong connections to Six Sigma thinking. Strong company-customer relationships are important in Six Sigma as they allow you to gain a greater understanding of customer need. The better your understanding, the greater your ability to serve the customer.

 

Enforcing the Rules

 

They also employ an extensive list of standardized community standards to which members should adhere. In fact, thousands of hosts, and guests become barred from using the site due to not following these guidelines. This is reassuring for the rest of Airbnb’s client-base and creates an environment of openness and transparency. But how does Six Sigma fit in here? Take a look at what Airbnb does. By actively monitoring processes and enforcing regulations to deter problems, it’s clear they’re using DMAIC.

While they seem to take a laissez-faire approach, they are, in fact, surprisingly hands-on when necessary. There’s no need for them to define their primary problem, as they already know it. But by measuring and analyzing issues such as rule-breaking, they can take actions to correct and improve them. As such, they exercise a great deal of control over their business operations often without having to interfere at all.

 

Resolving Problems with Six Sigma

 

One of the benefits of listing strangers’ homes for rental, means customers can see what they’re in for. TV and internet advertizing can sometimes be misleading. Who hasn’t booked a room thinking it was The Ritz, only to discover it was a hotel from hell? Airbnb provides an accurate picture while never setting up false expectations. Moreover, they originally got off to a rocky start, as many customers were uploading poor quality photos to the site. Naturally, this didn’t do their business any favors, and so they began professionally photographing all properties.

Here they recognized a problem – one responsible for poor quality and profit – devised a hypothesis, and implemented a solution. The impact of this was clear, prompting them to direct more resources to that area. Customers don’t like to be disappointed, and one mistake can lose them forever. Airbnb understands how Six Sigma can help prevent this right from the start.

 

 

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