How eBay is Unlocking The Customer Journey

by Jeannie Walters

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During the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) Member Insights Exchange, one of the breakout sessions was a presentation by Brian Bolten, Vice President/Director, Engagement Strategy of True Action, an Ebay company. The focus: how to create personalized journeys by understanding customers’ behavior more. In this session we learned a lot about how eBay is unlocking the customer journey.

Understanding the eBay customer experience journey (CEJ) is a multi-layered process. They represented the journey through maps directed at key stakeholders and audiences. For example, the CMO received a high-level, marketing focused map. This customer experience is so broad, Brian and the CEM team immersed executives and different teams – social, technologists, etc. – into this new understanding of their specific customer journeys.

Crawl, Walk, Run.

Brian offered great insight into how vast and overwhelming this type of project can be. It is important to realize this is a big initiative that will take time and effort. Don’t lose sight of the benefits!

Bridge marketing and technology.

  • Layer the customer experience journey with the operational process.
  • Stay channel agnostic while building the journey. Your customers operate from all channels, and some individuals will cross channels during a single transaction. Don’t favor one channel over the other- make sure the transition is seamless.

eBay doesn’t have a CRM system. Every email ever sent was manually sent. Getting the right players on board was an easy sell because they could sell “we can help you do this easier.”

What’s In It For Me?

Another great point from Brian was to overcommunicate what’s in it for the employees and stakeholders involved in the customer journey process.

Be Clear On Time Expectations for Results!

Customers don’t know you’re changing from the inside out. They need to change their own behavior, which might not happen within the typical A/B 72 hour timeframe. Brian and his team asked for a YEAR to understand – negotiated to 6 months.

Unlocking the Customer Journey

Understand “Buy Level” and “What” They’re Buying

The way you communicate with a first-time buyer of clothing is very different than how you might speak with a super user or someone buying a car.


Segments v. Personas

Segments are data-driven. Personas are developed with the insight of data but also representative of emotional response and WHY the individual customer makes certain choices.

Map The Processes and Policies

Technology sometimes is in place to protect legacy policies that are not productive. The biggest takeaway here is for anyone tackling this kind of initiative: Crawl, Walk, Run. It’s big and daunting, but taking it on one step at a time can make great things happen.

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik via Creative Commons

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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