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Thought leadership

“At PayPal, we put people at the centre of everything we do.” That’s the message that greets customers as soon as they arrive at the corporate area of PayPal’s website. It’s a sentiment that is key to mastering The Six Pillar SystemTM; the very best companies have a customer experience strategy that puts human beings at the very heart of their everyday practices. This is something that the US branch of PayPal is keen to replicate.

It’s a company with a long history in the financial services sector. It began life as Confinity in 1998, focusing on the development of security software for handheld devices. The PayPal brand itself launched a year later, and now operates as a payment processing platform for auction sites and online vendors. In 2014, the company transferred $228 billion in 26 currencies across more than 190 nations, generating a total revenue of $7.9 billion, which represents 44 per cent of the total profits of the online auction site eBay. It has become an internet force to be reckoned with, and yet its aspirations for excellence are not restricted to a positive performance on the stock market. PayPal places a great deal of emphasis on striving for customer experience excellence, too.

Indeed, the company’s customer experience strategy pays particular attention to the pillars of Personalisation, Time and Effort and Integrity. A deeper dive into the brand’s website uncovers PayPal’s concern for these areas. “PayPal gives people better ways to connect to their money and to each other, helping them safely access and move their money and offering a choice of how they would like to pay or be paid,” the company states. “With our 169 million active customer accounts, we have created an open and secure payments ecosystem that people and businesses choose to securely transact with each other online, in stores and on mobile devices.”

As such, PayPal is showing customers that they can feel safe using the brand as a payment processor. Whilst the security features are robust and reassuring, the company takes steps to put itself in the position of a family member or close friend, informing customers that they can feel more “connected” to each other, and that they will have the flexibility of deciding how to part with, or receive, their necessary payments.

Furthermore, the brand’s desire to move closer to its customers is not an optimistic aspiration; PayPal puts its strategy into practice on a regular basis. Recently, some of the brand’s users expressed dissatisfaction at the company’s revised terms and conditions, which would have facilitated an increase in automated phone calls to promote some of the company’s services. In response to customer feedback, PayPal quickly revised its policy and issued a statement.

“We value our relationship with our customers and work hard to communicate clearly,” wrote Senior Vice President Louise Pentland on the PayPal blog. “Recently, however, we did not live up to our own standards. In sending our customers a notice about upcoming changes to our User Agreement we used language that did not clearly communicate how we intend to contact them.”

Pentland then went on to describe what steps had been put in place to rectify the situation, stating that PayPal had been “working proactively with regulators to clarify that [its] focus is on [its] customers, on consumer protection and on doing the right thing.” The post ended by saying that the company appreciated its customers’ feedback, and apologised for any confusion it may have caused.

Because of this, it is clear just how much emphasis the brand places on Integrity in its customer experience strategy. Indeed, the strongest financial services brands in the UK have already recognised what a true asset this pillar can be, and how much more their customers will ‘fall in love with them’ if they are consistently seen to ‘do the right thing,’ both morally and financially. At the moment, PayPal ranks at number 35 in the US Customer Experience Excellence rankings, but if it is able to build on its current strengths, particularly in terms of creating trust and a more personalised customer relationship, then it may well enjoy a top 10 position in the years to come.

For more customer experience insight visit the KPMG Nunwood CEM blog.

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