eBay’s head of Customer Service Steve Boehm speaks out

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steve boehmVideo interviews with eBay executives seem to be very much in vogue and the latest comes from Steve Boehm. He’s the Senior Vice President of Global Customer Experience.

He says of his role: “I lead the Global Customer Experience teams for eBay. That comprises customer service, billing and payments, risk and policy, and customer trust teams. Our primary mission is to remove friction from the eBay ecosystem. Our singular focus is to make eBay easier to use, more reliable, and more consistent from the customer’s point of view.”

It’s a short video but two things leap out to me. Firstly, his definition of “customer” in an eBay context does seem to predominately mean a buyer. And secondly, the example of a dispute he singles out does seem to regard seller non-performance. That does seem to betray a bias that many sellers will recognise.

In the longer transcript of the discussion that isn’t in the video, Boehm makes an interesting statement about how eBay has been working to improve customer service: “We’ve spent a lot of time and money building a coaching practice to teach our teammates how to deal with complexity while simultaneously focusing on the needs of each individual customer. We have invested heavily in technology and tools so that our people have the information they need to serve customers well. We have made a tremendous amount of progress as measured through customer satisfaction feedback, and yet we have so much more room to improve.

But being great at customer service is about a lot more than quickly and accurately solving issues after the fact. It’s about simplifying our policies, being more transparent about actions we take and the steps customers need to take to return to trading on our platform. It is a holistic way of thinking about and designing the services and products our customers use to run their businesses on eBay, or that buyers use to shop. I’m really excited about a lot of the upcoming changes we’ll be sharing with our global constituency in the coming months.”

It seems that we have some big announcements in the pipeline. Maybe we’ll see some big news come out of San Jose as part of the eBay 20th anniversary events.

But, in the meantime, what do you think of Steve Boehm’s comments?

12 Responses

  1. Why all the flannel and spin,
    If your a seller you have few rights and no support its that simple

  2. Just another meaningless string of buzzwords. Holistic way of thinking, global constituency, yawn.

    I realise it’s not quite that simple, but really, sellers are eBay’s customers, buyers are sellers’ customers.

    In general, eBay treat buyers like gods and sellers like The Enemy, this is what needs to change at grass roots level, going forward. eBay need to engage diversity, thus ensuring a paradigm shift towards a more open and engaged customer base.

    Oh you’ve got me at it now.

  3. As Joe says, Ebay’s customers are the sellers on the site, not the buyers. If all the sellers left there would be no Ebay and it would die very, very quickly. No matter how many cute buzzwords an executive used.

  4. Oh no – same old story….

    eBay – WHY OH WHY does there need to be ANY party at fault??

    MAYBE just MAYBE, no one is at fault? That is ALSO an option!

    This divide your creating between Buyers VS Sellers is a disgrace and killing eBay.

    There should be NO Divide! Here is scenarios that are fair:

    Buyer gets wrong item
    Solution: Send back to Seller then be refunded. Simple.
    If buyer doesn’t send back – not your problem or sellers.
    If seller doesn’t refund – THEN step in and refund buyer.

    Buyer Claims Not as Described
    Solution: Send item back to seller then be refunded. Simple.
    If buyer doesn’t send back – not your problem or sellers.
    If seller doesn’t refund – THEN step in and refund buyer.
    Don’t Penalise the seller on top of it all, as you cannot know if the buyer is right or wrong.

    eBay this wedge your creating and stupid “defect” system is NOT helping anyone. Sellers are not annoyed with Returns,Problem Buyers etc… They are annoyed when eBay
    steps in and says
    “I know you feel like we have sided with the buyer and as we haven’t seen the item, but we will believe the buyer over you –
    – and here is a defect to top it off, just so we can limit your sales, hide your listings and promote chinese sellers that we have signed contracts with”…

    THIS is what causes Sellers VS Buyers. You created this monster all by yourself eBay.

    BUYERS have a thing called Consumer Contracts Regulations which is an EU wide Law. It works.

  5. eBay don’t sell anything, they provide a service, so the sellers are their customers surely?

    have they not made huge redundancies in customer support?

    How does Amazon deal with disputes? Why is it such a problem for eBay to decide this ‘fairness’.
    Shoppers by their very nature are ruthless so if you go around advertising ‘money back if you complain’ you’re going to encourage claims and upset sellers.

  6. “…remove friction from the eBay ecosystem” – You can tell it’s an executive talking.

    Customer service employees need to be well trained and to be given autonomy to resolve problems with a commonsense approach. The call centres we’re put through to are nearly always very poorly trained, and have to go off a script. It’s a painful, drawn out experience that hardly ever leads to anything positive.


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