Interview with a Customer Strategy Guru: Part 2

In my last post, I shared the start of a conversation I was having with customer strategy & experience design guru, Jean-Marc Codsi.  Up until recently, he was responsible for leading the Customer Experience teams in Europe for eBay.  Before his years at eBay, his creative customer experience flair helped drive experience transformation at T-Mobile in the UK & Etisalat across the Middle East.

Jean-Marc & I met for a catch up at the French House in Soho, London and in this post, Jean-Marc shares a little more about his time at eBay and what he’s working on next.  You can the first part of the interview here.

Michael: What was your biggest learning from your years in top tier businesses that you might chose to do differently?

Jean-Marc: Trying to become global for the sake of being globally consistent.  Imposing this approach on areas which are better managed locally (such as coaching, people leadership and development). There are things that just don’t work with 5000 miles distance between the people.

Michael: How was it different when working outside of the UK?

Jean-Marc: We are spoiled with great service in the UK and our patience as a customer has got a very short fuse. Europe and its complexity is a very competitive landscape for CX, a place of innovation and experiments, bubbling with talents and ideas.

Other geographies tend to be “simpler”, either because they are very big (as in the US), or they have lesser customer expectations (less channels, lower benchmarks, fewer competitors).

I always found Servicing customers in Europe was the hardest; lots of languages, very small “queues” and huge difference in customer expectations. Some channels do not exist in Germany when they are obvious choices in the UK for example. The attention to details in order to be successful in EU is a whole different class…My next piece of work will focus on experience in Japan and how it compares to the UK and the U.S. – I’m looking forward to the new challenge…

Michael: What is eBay’s secret sauce?

Jean-Marc: eBay is a fantastic brand. It has fundamental values of generosity, community and people focus which people live and love. It is an embedded culture since Pierre Omidyar created the company in 1995 and it remains very much alive to this day.

For me, the secret sauce and the true competitive edge is the dynamism and diversity of the communities. It’s hard to put in boxes, but if you listen to sellers and buyers, it’s an unbeatable model.

eBay has got active communities and social networks of millions; it uses is for innovation and integral part of the design process. They also use it for L0 Service. When they get it wrong, you can be sure the communities let them know!

Michael: What next for you and what will you to bring to start-ups?

Jean-Marc: Working with entrepreneurs. A relentless focus on customers, away from tech and gadgets (they do that well on their own!)

I think setting up customer centric processes to listen actively early on will enable them to adapt their products and customer policies and grow faster. The product isn’t everything and customers have no patience for “half baked” experiences in the UK because there are very good alternatives.

Michael: What is your personal mantra?

Jean-Marc: Be yourself, everyone else is taken!

At this point, Jean Marc had to dash off to a meeting, so unfortunately our conversation had to come to a close.  I’m hoping that next time, we can drill down into more detail, but in the meantime, I hope you found the answers shared by Jean-Marc to be as insightful and thought-provoking as I did!


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