Customer First: The PayPal Way

eBay Inc. Staff

This story originally appeared on the PayPal Forward blog on Aug. 29, 2013.

Featuring David Marcus, President, PayPal.

Last year when I began to lead the team at PayPal, it was clear to me that although we were a strong and thriving company with great promise, our laser-focus on scaling the business, and keeping it compliant in the complex world of payments had taken precedence over our customers’ experiences for too long.

This was brought home to me in the following months as the media were quick in reacting to the mistakes we were making and we heard in real time from our customers about their issues directly through social media channels. It was clear that something was broken, and it needed to get fixed.

Here’s what we’re doing at PayPal to get this stuff fixed:

My leadership team committed to making a difference as soon as possible, in the ways that mattered to our customers.  The only way to do that with any effect, any impact, was to listen. We spent hours on live calls with our customers at our Customer Service Centers, hearing their challenges and frustrations first-hand. We watched and listened to the feedback we were getting and responded when we could. We asked our friends, cousins and babysitters, suppliers and even strangers what we could do to make PayPal great.

And we never ever, ever lost sight of the fact that we look after people’s money – we have a great responsibility to keep funds safe and protected from the bad guys – no one does this at the scale we do, in the number of countries we operate in, dealing with the number of regulators we have.  We know how very, very important and very personal money is to our customers. 

It was time to re-focus and commit in a new way, with a fresh perspective. We worked quickly to fix issues we knew of and could solve for, while at the same time: 

  • We doubled down on creating beautiful products that leverage our technological leadership; 
  • We used a true “mobile first” approach that shows off our ability to create cut-through UI design to make payments simple; 
  • We categorized known “pain points” so we could check them off and make a real difference in the lives of our customers.  
  • We call this Customer First.

The essence of this initiative is a combined effort across multiple functions in our business to stay focused more than ever on our core audiences of merchants, consumers, and developers, their needs and desires. We genuinely believe that our end-to-end product experience, from the first time you interact with us, to when you call us with a concern or question is who we are – it’s our community.

Nothing gives us more joy than when a merchant comes online and is able to accept payments and build a business within minutes because of the care we took to make it possible. Nothing gives us more delight than when a busy mom tells us she paid her sitter with PayPal because she didn’t have time to stop at the ATM.  That’s why we do this.

Taking Action 

We launched a set of initiatives to tackle known customer issues head on.   Our teams in Risk Management, Customer Service, Legal and, of course, our Global Product and Technology teams banded together to help solve pain points no matter where you are in the world.  We put new procedures in place, used every day by everyone at PayPal. 

Proudly Use PayPal Every Day:  Employees all over the company – from San Jose to Australia – use our products every day.   We iterate quickly, when our people give us feedback.  We tested new products to get our coffee at the office café, we Order Ahead lunch at our company cafeteria and pay vendors using PayPal. We challenge our employees to be brutal in feedback so we can truly understand what our customer wants and needs. We’ve taken that a step further by transforming the look and feel of our offices, starting at our headquarters in San Jose, so we can collaborate quickly and refine our products at the pace required to keep our customers satisfied. No more high walls or siloed spaces – we’ve literally knocked down the barriers to our workplace to stay nimble and stay connected.

Listening. Hearing. Responding: Our operations teams are tremendous internal advocates for our customers. They identified a set of complex customer pain points in multiple areas based on internal research and direct feedback from our customers, and I’m happy to say that so far we’ve solved more than half of these top issues. As a result so far in 2013, we’ve tracked 40 million fewer issues that customers have experienced than last year. 

Be The Customer: Because nothing compares to real conversation, real experiences, and real lives when you’re making decisions for your customers, we ask Directors and above to spend a week on the front lines at our call centers to hear and deal with issues first hand. When someone gets promoted, or joins the company at that level, they receive an invitation to go spend a week in one of our centers, and we’re relentless in ensuring all of them go. It’s a transformational experience that is changing our culture.

Take “Risks”: That might sound a little contradictory. Being the leader in online payments makes us a prime target for all the bad guys around the world. Over the years we had to build our industry-leading Risk Management technologies. We’ve been able to scale a rate that cannot be replicated by anyone else, and sometimes it’s left customers feeling less than satisfied. Of the more than 7.5 million transactions we do every day, the vast majority go through without an issue. We’ve tweaked our models to catch more bad guys and way fewer good guys. Hundreds of thousands of customers who may have experienced holds last year based on our policies are no longer impacted and we’re seeing some recognition of that work - with a notable increase in our Net Promoter Score, an industry measurement of brand loyalty. We’ve also adjusted policies specifically around holds to demonstrate that we trust our customers as much as they trust us. Simply put, we’ve built, and are continuing to build a better net.  Fewer dolphins, more sharks!

Be Human:  Policies, laws and regulations are black and white.  We have to be compliant with government and regulatory agencies, that’s just part of doing business as a leader in global payments. But we’ve made some tweaks to our policies and procedures and introduced some guiderails to better help you when there are issues. For example, when dealing with alleged counterfeit goods, we now give the benefit of the doubt to the seller while making sure the buyer is not penalized, sometimes taking a loss to ensure a smooth customer experience for everyone involved. For small claims we instituted a “no fault construct” when there is a buyer complaint so that we now simply absorb this cost. This program benefits tens of thousands of sellers and buyers each month. PayPal will absorb $2.5 million a year to provide this benefit to our buyers and sellers.

Customer First. The PayPal Way.

We’re making a commitment to making PayPal great, and to make it more customer-centric so that people love our products every single day.  Now and in the future.

When PayPal launched 15 years ago it fundamentally changed the way commerce is conducted. It literally opened the doors of millions businesses all over the world to millions more consumers in every corner of the globe. And today, there are businesses that simply wouldn’t have existed without us. They wouldn’t have been able to accept payments online, wouldn’t have built innovative businesses unique to the Internet we know today, wouldn’t have been able to provide for their families. We take that promise and that legacy very seriously.

We are making huge progress in reinventing the experience for our customers. But we’re not quite there yet. We won’t be satisfied until all of our customers, consumers, businesses, and developers alike, come away from every interaction with their PayPal with the feeling that we’ve helped them in a transparent and valuable way. PayPal should be synonymous with putting the Customer First. That’s the PayPal Way.

I will keep you up to date on our progress. We have so much more to share, so much more to do. I look forward to your feedback and comments.

And please be sure to reach out to us when you encounter a problem – we’re here to fix it! Contact our Customer Service team @AskPayPal on Twitter any time.