PayPal Case Study – Social Media Ignorance

Paypal was one of the first online payment services and had a great start but over time lost the edge. The company seems to struggle with their internal administration and adjusting their business processes to meet customer needs.

Company Background
Paypal has 160 million customers
Their support centers work shifts and deal with approximately 60,000 support cases every day.
Over 1,000 support people handle on average 60 calls per day.
You cannot email or use other ways of communication than phone, fax or post.

Support team
To deal all day long with frustrated customers is not a very pleasant job, so fluctuation is rather high and the level of competency very low. It takes on average three calls to find a competent person. Some customers suggest you don’t use a case number as you don’t want to get back to the same person.
Most of the support calls are very low level issues with routine answers, nothing special, simply based on lack of user help and a pretty confusing system administration (a user voice nails it: “This is done by a bunch of engineers and never reviewed by business people”). Many functions are even unclear to the internal teams. Support staff admits it is not very intuitive if it is anything other than pushing the pay now button. Everybody can read that in great detail in thousands on public complains.

Customer Experience
People still really like the product. Some even donated a website like This Link Lots of discussions with thousands of valuable inputs that – as it appears- non of the paypal people ever read. Paypal instituted a feedback form that customers are asked to fill out after each and every support case. Even so many people probably are too angry to even bother, some do, I did. But that source of customer feedback evaporates in the dysfunctional organization.

More Market Research?
Now the latest hit was that I received an invitation to participate in a survey – yet I have to be “elected” to join. However I get $200 if I participate after I am elected. But it looks like I have to drive to Mountain View to do the in person interview. A “market research institute” actually is doing the gigg. I don’t want to know what that cost in total.

So here is a company that has free feedback from millions of users and thousands of cases but just doesn’t bother to care – instead pays a research institute to create yet another source of feedback?

Paypals Social Web Presence

  • There is a paypal account on twitter, mainly tweeting “please follow us so we can DM you” – 63 updates, following 123 people
  • There are hundreds of paypal groups on Facebook from paypal fans to paypal frustrated customers
  • There are 18 groups focusing on paypal on LinkedIn with over 3,000 members
  • There are paypal customers on MySpace and many other sites, the feedback is priceless.
  • Yet paypal seem just not to care.

Even internally people know what the issues are: A support person inside paypal (very nice and very professional) “…I know, we asked numerous times to fix those issues but nobody seem to listen”.

How to actually fix the problem
Social Media for Paypal could become a life saver. Not as a marketing gigg but to improve and fix a dysfunctional operation.
1) At first a company team would aggregate and distill the customer feedback using established assessment methods and available reporting tools.
2) Then develop a customer supported advisory board and rigorously execute – fixing the top issues.
3) Tackle more problems and just grind through the list from top to bottom.
4) Ask the folks from “paypal sucks” groups and sites to HELP.
5) Using the, by then established, processes to figure out how new features need to be developed (co-creation)
6) Get feedback in a structured way through groups and networks rather than through useless questionnaires
7) Create forums where customers help customers, supported by maybe even less but better educated paypal support people

Non of the above has anything to do with sales or marketing – just building a better company.

Who Is Responsible?
Is this the responsibility of Dickson Chu Vice President of Global Product and Experience? Or is it Ryan D. Downs Senior Vice President, Worldwide Operations? Or is it Scott Guilfoyle Senior Vice President, Platform Services? Or Barry Herstein Chief Marketing Officer? Philipp Justus Senior Vice President, Global Markets, responsible for growing the company? Everybody has his/her fair share.

But No, Scott Thompson, the President is the one who need to engage his executive team in a cross functional initiative to fix the dysfunctional organization.

Social media is not a cool marketing gigg – it is a strategic engagement to react to the major changes in our society reflected by changing customer behavior and an ever more demanding market.

Axel Schultze Axel Schultze MyXeeSM


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