A picture is worth a lot more than just words

Richard Brewer-Hay

Well, the trip is almost over with just a visit to the Skype offices today on their 5th birthday to wrap it all up. My last day in Berlin was probably the most informative in terms of the different meetings I attended. It all started with the best picture of the trip so far. I should explain.

After I packed my suitcase on the Saturday I left for Europe, I spent the afternoon taking my daughter to the park, allowing my wife to get some much needed rest. I found out when I started my first day of the trip in London last week that she wasn’t getting rest at all. No, she had made photocopies of pictures taken of our daughter and us playing on weekends and hidden them in all of my items of clothing. So each day of the trip, I have been able to look at a new picture and have them join me on my day of meetings.

So there I was in the taxi heading into the German office for the last time and it was fitting that as I fumbled in my shirt pocket to see what picture I had for the day, that I was actually already beginning my first interview. I was able to share a taxi with Deborah Davis, new VP of Customer Service for Europe.

Deborah joined eBay recently from Symantec where, for the past two years, she had been responsible for post-sales support of the Euro/Middle East and Africa markets and also ran operations for the English-speaking global support out of India. Prior to that, Deborah was at Verizon for 7 years – the last 2 of which saw her in charge of a lot of the customer experience and operational management for customer support. Her track record and past experience in large-scale, multi-market customer support made for a logical transition into her new role within eBay.

When asked what her biggest immediate challenge is going to be, Deborah indicated that she really wants to improve the member experience by leveraging the benefits of being a part of a global organization – with the structure already in place – while still maintaining the flexibility of being a smaller business unit within a larger company. She went on to say that she knows she has very talented individuals on her teams but wants to line them up to optimize efforts; use that talent to its true potential.

Two hours after our taxi-drive conversation, Deborah was introduced to hundreds of her new team – some of them for the first time – in a morning all-hands meeting that I was fortunate enough to attend. She definitely gave off the impression that she will be rolling up her sleeves on the job in addition to providing the strategic direction for the group moving forward. She also pledged to double her feedback score in the next few months.

Speaking of Feedback scores, one of the things I’ve noticed in my short time at the company is the pride that people take in their feedback score; in the things we’ve bought or sold on eBay. Berlin was no exception. Thomas Seifert (look for a profile on him in the near future) has a feedback score in the mid-400s and a number of the folks I met with during this trip boasted about their scores before we could talk about anything else. One individual I met with was over 1000 and another in the 700s. The German office goes one further and has what is called the Dreilinden Index. Like a stock index, it has a summary of the feedback scores of a number of German eBay employees and they move up and down on a regular basis. And I think the majority of markets, US and Germany included, have a 500-club that includes eBay employees with feedback scores of 500 and above.

So, as I get ready to shut down my laptop before heading over the Skype offices I look forward to getting back to HQ next week to work on more stories, more news, and more insight from within eBay – using some standalone pieces from my time on the road and also some follow-up posts to recent news – with a bigger picture and better perspective on the number of lives eBay touches both inside and outside the company.

Selfishly though, even though I look forward to reaching in my pocket one last time to see what my final picture of the trip is going to be, I am very excited that next week I’ll get to see and hug the real thing every morning before heading out to work.