As an employee comms professional my challenge at eBay Germany is to bring the many facets of the business together and create a one team mentality. Not the most unique of comms challenges you may think – give me a chance to change this perception!
The challenge gets a little more complex when you throw some complexity into the comms mixing bowl. Here are just some of the ingredients:
eBay in Germany consists of eBay.de, our online classifieds businesses mobile.de and eBay Kleinanzeigen, the online shopping club brands4friends.de, the online comparison shopping site Shopping.com, as well as PayPal and our customer support centers. A cacophony of flavours – you will agree.
All these business joined the eBay family at different times and have very different cultures – even though we all work on the same campus. And they are now under one management team for the first time as part of a renewed focus by eBay into the Germany market.
Germany is eBay’s largest market outside of North America and in order to reinvigorate the business we decided to start with our employees.
To kick-start the creation of a one team mentality the employee comms team came up with the Deutschland Index “dex” challenge to help employees understand the strategic challenges of bringing these unique businesses under one leadership team and incentivised them to experience the businesses and products from a customer’s point of view.
We saw the campaign as a mix of educating employees on business strategy and also encouraging them to test our products. A taster menu, if you will, before unleashing the new dishes on the hungry diners.
Each month, there is a specific challenge set for employees and they are awarded dex points for buying and selling in a specific category, for having or opening a user account or referring a friend to one of our businesses, for beta testing – each challenge centred around one key strategic priority or one specific business. There are leaderboards all over the campus, updated in real time with the result of the current individual and team competitions.
So, we focused on a strategic priority across the business first – fashion. We held events to help educate employees of how important fashion is to eBay, made sure they knew of the range of products on the site and why fashion and targeting female shoppers is a key focus for eBay across the board.
The events also included workshops on how to sell fashion successfully on the site – all part of the campaign to encourage employees to sell and buy more through eBay and its businesses. And of course they were awarded dex points for becoming more active users…
Later, incentives were created that included gift vouchers to spend on the relatively new eBay business brands4friends – a fun and free way for employees to experience a part of eBay they may have not even heard of – let alone shop on. If employees had or opened a brands4friends account they were credited €20. Incentives like this all aimed to encourage employees to become customers, to see through the eyes of a customer and better understand the businesses in the eBay family. It also resulted in 60 per cent account activation rate from our employees – now that’s what you can a one team mentality!
Employees were also asked to beta-test product changes to see what a customer goes through when changes are made to our sites. And stop those experiences that left a bitter after taste.
The campaign has not only served as an education for our employees but also for the business as a whole. Feedback from the beta-testing has given valuable information to our product teams. Having employees go through the system means they can identify the pain points that customers go through so they can be rectified and the customer experience improved.
This process has also seen employees become frequent users – one of our main aims – the cherry on top of the cake. Employees reacted amazingly to our efforts and the number of items being sold by our people quadrupled within just 3 months!
To engage with our employees further we ran a sales lead hunting competition asking for URLs of businesses that currently don’t accept PayPal to be sent to our merchant sales team. Again the response was incredible and we had more than 1,500 leads sent to us. Not only did it make our employees feel like one team, like we intended, it also added value to the business.
Each month, the ten most successful dex participants were given PayPal vouchers (in addition to the winner shirts and there photo on the dex “wall of fame” of course). The most successful teams were given €500 to spend on whatever they wanted. All the teams donated theirs to charity – adding value to our society.
Throughout the process I learnt that the employees that had joined the eBay family are all happy to be part of a larger organisation – but they don’t want to be defined by it. They want their separate personalities and identity. What is for sure – they are thirsty for knowledge whether it is about the various products and businesses that make-up eBay or the strategy that make them happen.
Not only was the Deutschland Index campaign a success – we’ve all learnt valuable lessons that have brought us all together as one team, improved the experiences of our customers, and made the business some money along the way. That’s pretty good going, even if I do say so myself!
By Tobias Huebscher, Head of Employee Communications for eBay Germany