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  Heard on the Net:
eBay's Credo: Trust Thy Customer

Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay, gave a great talk in DC last week. She blew everyone away with her account of how founder Pierre Omidyar developed the site that became eBay in order to help his wife interact with other Pez collectors online. I'd heard the story before but had missed the real take-home lesson--Pierre developed the eBay model not for a "customer" but for someone he loved.

In Meg's view, the success of eBay is deeply rooted in that love-your-customer/trust-your-customer model. The eBay team believes that people are basically honest and trustworthy and should be accorded a level of courtesy and respect far beyond what most c ompanies offer their customers. They believe that if people are treated in this way, they will extend that sense of respect and courtesy to other community members, and that it will be then, and only then, that a truly empowered online community will emer ge.

When she was asked how eBay plans to use all the invaluable market information they have about their 3.8 million customers--buying patterns, special interests, etc--she answered that they don't plan to use it at all. Doing so would conflict with eBay's pr imary mission--which appears to be to trust the customer, to empower the customer, to treat the customer with absolute courtesy and respect, and to earn the customer's loyalty and trust by always, always doing what the customer would want them to do. In s hort, to treat each customer as thoughtfully and carefully as Pierre would treat his wife.

You can view an archived video of Meg's talk at: www.connectlive.com/events/ebay/

Other Links of Interest:
Daniel Z. Sands has just released a thoughtful set of "Guidelines for the Use of Patient-Centered E-mail" for the Massachusetts Health Data Consortium Sands was one of the authors of the original set of provider-patient e-mail guidelines, published by a working group of the American Medical Informatics Association, and is a knowledgeable and useful resource on this important topic.

Published in The Ferguson Report, Number 3, May 1999


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Copyright © 1999-2003 Tom Ferguson, M.D. The Ferguson Report is a free e-mail newsletter published at unpredictable intervals for the friends and associates of Tom Ferguson. ISSN 1520-5487