Monday, January 19, 2009

Not Everything is Scalable.

Thanks to JayandMarie for providing a link to this video clip.

The clip is called "The Speech" and was produced in 1989 for United Airlines. I'm not critiquing this as an advertisement, instead I want to look at the message in the content.

Setting the stage:
Pay close attention to what is happening here. The CEO of an unnamed firm is having an all-hands meeting, everyone looks nervous. 

Don't jump down my throat about the feasibility of eBay reaching out to their sellers. I'm speaking conceptually, "big picture" here. When I reached 100,000 feedback with Glacier Bay, I received a phone call from eBay North American president Jeff Jordan congratulating me. He didn't need to fly out and visit me. With that one call, I felt that I was part of the success of eBay.

I've written many posts criticizing the MBA approach to management: metrics rule and if you can't scale it you shouldn't waste your time. 

In management meetings at these large companies they always ask the questions "What is the ROI?"; "Can we afford to do this?" Those are valid questions as long as they also ask. "Should we do this?"; "Can we afford not to do this?"

Sure, 200 clients is a far cry from reaching out to eBay's 1 million plus sellers, but I wonder if eBay's Seller Experience team will ever have a meeting like this; imagine the cost of all those plane tickets. 

Just my 15%


Henrietta said...

Wasn't that the point of eBay Live when it was conceived? That is before it got PowerPointed into a different animal because the great unwashed herd of uneducated (non MBA) sellers simply were not capable of understanding what was best for them.

Many sellers, especially the small ones saved and scrimped all year to participate. They paid their own airfares.

nadine said...

eBay knows the methods to get feedback. They had eBay Live. That's gone. They have surveys. All their recent surveys are crafted to return only the answer they want to hear and ignore all other information.

eBay management has made their bed. Now they will have to lie in it. I'm certainly not awaiting a similar revelation on the part of John Donahoe. The Board of Directors? No sign yet, but then there wouldn't be any ahead of time, would there?

John of said...

Are you holding your breath? STOP IT silly boy...LMAO

Randy Smythe said...


No I'm not holding my breath. I was just being a little nostalgic.

It doesn't require a personal visit once a month, once in a blue moon work work just as well.

Nadine, this really wasn't about feedback, it was about making your customers want to do business with you and getting that across personally.

eBay Live was exactly that and the first and second eBay Live's they flew me out and paid for my room and gave me a beautiful gift. I still use the bag they gave me.

eBay Live #3 they started to count the numbers and soon all the freebies were gone. Then JD and is crew of bean-counters came in no more eBay Live.

ebayer said...

eBay canned their "voices" program too, right?

Rich said...

Life imitating art imitating life...or something.

The only time we need to do "the right thing" is when it impacts our pocketbooks?

I'm looking around for some great e-commerce parables from old Simpson's episodes for you Randy...;0]

Randy Smythe said...


Yes, these posts are a bit on the idealistic side, but hey maybe one day somebody in the company will get it.

ms.pat said...

I can give an example of Ebay:

A fellow artist posted on Ebay's Art & Artist's Board. "I got a negative from a buyer because she didn't expect her painting to be so small". I checked the listing...It was an ACEO - a 2 1/2 X 3 1/2" painting. It was properly listed with (ACEO 2.5" X 3.5") and stating the measurements clearly - not only under the picture but in several other places of the description. The buyer missed everyone....and so for a 99 cent item with free shipping this Artist suffered the first negative she's ever had in 6 years of selling. Will Ebay remove it since it was so evident the buyer was wrong? NO! This clearly shows the arrogant and ham-fisted new ebay and is one of the big reasons why people are becoming disenchanted with the new the point where they just up and leave.

I think we've gotten used to years and years of automatic emails but this is outright disregard for all fairness and shows the complete lack of respect Ebay has for its sellers!

ms.pat said...

Randy they flew all of us that were on the arts community watch team to New Orleans Ebay live. Paid for everything. The next year - they said "nope, we can't do it this year". Remember now, the teams were working for them for NOTHING! After that most of the team members simply quit.

Anonymous said...

Arbinger Institute's "Leadership and Self Deception" is chock full of these 'cheapskate' horror stories. The only thing missing are the Dilbert pictures to go with them.

tekgems said...

I went to a live eBay Townhall in downtown San Francisco last year. All sellers were asked to stand up. "Who has 10,000 feedback or more?" I was the last seller standing, but Bill Cobb (?) or some high up eBay exec didn't see me and continued on with his presentation. At that moment, "I felt that I was part of the success of eBay."