This article is based on a transcript of a conversation with Jamie Iannone, CEO of eBay. The text has been edited for length and clarity.

Teams are most productive when they share goals, act with a sense of urgency, and work toward measurable results. For us, this means being customer-obsessed and ensuring the entire organization is focused on delivering results to our global community of sellers and buyers.

At eBay, we're reinventing the future of e-commerce. This means creating experiences tailored specifically to our customers, where they can easily discover what they like. To do this, we invest in what makes eBay special: unique items at scale, inventory that fuels interests and hobbies, features that make buying and selling easy and enjoyable, and a community united by shared passions.

Putting the customer at the center of everything we do results in a smoother buying and selling experience, and we take feedback very seriously.

Our customer service representatives have tools to share what they hear in real time, ensuring that these opinions are transmitted directly to the product teams who develop new experiences for our buyers and sellers.

eBay headquarters in Berlin, Germany.

For example, customers have shared their desire to make the listing process easier and faster, from writing descriptions to filling out item-specific details. After receiving this direct feedback, our product teams developed AI-powered tools such as a description generator and an image-based ad flow. These innovations have led to the highest customer satisfaction scores to date.

We also know that high-quality product images accelerate sales, but customers have told us that creating them can be complicated. We've improved our background removal tool, helping sellers create even prettier images and allowing them to move their inventory faster.

We hire employees who are passionate about what they do and allow them to channel their passion and knowledge to ensure the best sellers and inventory are on our platform every day.

These are small ways to put the right processes and measures in place to maximize the positive impact our staff can have on customers.

Customer satisfaction is the key to our success on eBay. Therefore, it is our most important metric. Customer satisfaction scores are critical to long-term success, and we have a company-wide goal that is tied to performance reviews and our employee incentive plan.

There's real power in satisfying customers: Not only will they come back for more, they'll recommend eBay to their friends and family.

We are also doubling down on investments that will help us exceed buyer expectations. This includes investing in and expanding our authentication program, which ensures that sold items are inspected by a qualified expert to verify they match the description and quality of a listing before it is shipped to the buyer.

We focus on driving satisfaction in categories where eBay has a real competitive advantage and differentiated experience, such as collectibles, motors and luxury fashion. If we get a buyer the best experience on eBay, they will shop in other sections too.”

eBay is using AI to boost the company

eBay has been using AI for years. You simply cannot operate in a market of our size and scope without it. We have 132 million active buyers in 190 markets around the world and enable gross merchandise volume of $73 billion in 2023.

The latest advances in generative AI have allowed us to unlock the data we have collected over our nearly 30 years in business. The pace of innovation at eBay has benefited from the rollout of a new core AI platform last year, allowing us to incorporate AI into all aspects of our business.

AI

We have created tools to help sellers grow their business, making it quicker and easier to put products on sale and reducing the operational burden of managing their storefronts. For example, the “magic listing” experience leverages generative AI to instantly populate item descriptions based on the title, category, and other aspects of the item, eliminating that extra work for our sellers.

For our shoppers, we've launched AI-powered experiences that help them find what they're looking for through natural language search, using generative models to personalize our recommendations, and providing expert AI-powered content in key categories.

As for our employees, leaders across the company have been working on several different approaches, all aimed at unleashing the creativity of our software engineers, analysts, customer service representatives, and content creators. Enable employees to spend more time on higher-value work.

This includes using AI to help refactor code with tools like GitHub Copilot, along with eBay's own internal AI Hub, which add speed to our product development lifecycle. The goal is to get innovations to customers sooner, and we're finding that AI tools empower our developers and give them time to be creative and try new things.

We expect investments in AI to impact nearly every aspect of our organization, driving efficiency, collaboration and improved productivity. “We are really excited about the opportunity for advances in AI to increase the pace of innovation on behalf of our customers.”

eBay is optimizing its workplace after laying off 9% of its employees this year

Our results show that our strategy is the right one, but we knew we needed to better organize our teams to accelerate execution, allowing us to be more agile and make decisions faster. We simplified our structure as part of this process to better position eBay for long-term sustainable growth.

One way our teams now measure productivity is by asking themselves this question: Am I making every minute matter? This leads to discussions about how teams spend their time, for example, stopping or deprioritizing lower-value activities, grouping similar work together to make faster decisions, limiting time spent in long “briefing” meetings that do not generate immediate results and spending more time in collaborative meetings that produce results.

Most importantly, eBay exists to connect people and build communities. This purpose—creating economic opportunity for all—is deeply rooted in our DNA. Likewise, we understand the value of satisfied customers. We also know that happy employees are more productive employees.

Our leaders must continue to provide an environment to do meaningful work that has a positive impact on the world. It's what motivates our team members and what leads to a culture of employees looking for ways to give back. We take this responsibility very seriously because millions of sellers count on eBay to be more productive. They have built businesses on eBay and trust us to pursue their business dreams.

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