How eBay Ensures Customer-Centricity As Holiday Pressure Heats Up

Maya Fowell

Interview with the Head of Customer Insight, Heather Wade, and the Head of Research, Rhea Fox, at eBay about how they navigate through the busiest of retail seasons.

Heather Wade is a customer insights professional with 15 years experience in managing client-facing relationships and driving value for blue chip companies in the retail and FMCG space. She has a particular interest in driving customer-centric approaches, while delivering to time and budget and motivating teams to provide excellent client service.

Rhea Fox is an insight professional with 14 years of experience with the power of insight to make commercial decisions. She has the ability to make sense of complexity effectively to disrupt the status quo. Uniquely comfortable working with management consultants and creative strategists, she believes meaningful change occurs once you move beyond the obvious.

CX Network spoke to Heather and Rhea about finding new ways to engage with employees, the impact data has on their strategies and the opportunities the busiest period on the retail calendar can bring.

CXN: What do your roles as Head of Customer Insight and Head of Research entail and does it impact upon the wider customer experience strategy at eBay?

HW & RF: We are there to keep the business customer-focused and honest to the needs of customers and the market. We see our team as custodians of the customer, adding value to many parts of eBay

CXN: What lessons have you learnt from last year’s festive season and how have you applied them this time around to optimise the customer experience you’re delivering?

HW & RF: We’re investigating digital more and more this year. For example, earlier this year we ran a 20 per cent off coupon event, supported only by online deals media and social channels targeted at rush hour commuters, who we know are using their phones to shop on the way to work. Word of mouth spread quickly and we were delighted by the results of the event.

CXN: What innovative initiatives and schemes do you deploy to keep employee morale high as the holiday pressure heats up?

HW & RF: We have an incredibly dedicated team at eBay UK – the morale around events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday was especially high. A special Black Friday coffee truck always helps too!

We have a community of over 200,000 small businesses on eBay and we threw the doors open to them through the platform on Black Friday – it’s great for the business to see our small business community thriving.

CXN: What does relevant data mean to you, opposed to Big Data, and how big a role does it play in the build-up to the festive season?

HW & RF: Big Data is just a large data set that hasn’t been turned into insights & actions. We are interested in great insights wherever they come from – whether from trends, market data or customer data etc.

You also have to hire the people who can tell stories through data – not just model builders. These are different skill sets, not always found in the same person.

CXN: Everyone is making lists and checking them twice, what are your must-haves you need to have in place to be confident about your customer experience in December and in 2016?

HW & RF: If you know and understand what your customers want, this will play out in the customer experience. Each brand has its own needs and challenges and eBay is no different.