Louise Phelan vice president of global operations EMEA at Paypal

First off Louise tell us a bit about your business background and your role at PayPal

I am PayPal’s Vice President of Global Operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. I lead 2,500 people across three European sites – Dublin, Dundalk and Berlin. I don’t have a background in technology. My first big job was with Woodchester Bank, which was bought by GE (General Electric ). I always knew I wanted to work somewhere that changed the world and the light bulb certainly did that. After sixteen years there I was headhunted by PayPal and I was ready to help change the world of money. Back then there were just 200 people onsite, it’s been a huge journey to get to 2,500 PayPal teammates and 1,000 in our Partner sites – and we’re not done growing yet.

What personal and team achievements do you think have led to you winning a European Contact Centre Award this year?

For me, my biggest personal achievement is supporting our teammates to grow the business from a team stand point through our commitments and behaviours to our customers and teammates. As an organisation we are growing and innovating at a rapid pace. That is only possible if you have a good team around you and if you set your people up for success. We employ 8,000 teammates globally to take care of our 157 million active accounts across 203 markets. Every single teammate signs up to our Shared Purpose – a set of commitments and behaviours. They are our guiding principles that inform our decisions and actions. They include things like ‘do the right thing’, ‘create experiences our customers love’ and ‘enable talented people to thrive’. This ethos characterises how we treat our customers and our people. My priority is people –our teammates and our customers. We put the customer at the heart of everything we do in PayPal and we make a huge effort to invest in our people, empower them and set them up for success. There is nothing more rewarding than helping someone’s career thrive.

I see you also won a most Trusted Business Leader Award this year – how important do you think customer trust is for a business and a business leader?

Trust is critical. It inspires those around you and motivates your team to deliver above and beyond what is expected of them. It was a fantastic honour to be given the title of Ireland’s Most Trusted Leader this year and that was down to my team and my teammates. At PayPal, we carry out annual employee engagement surveys to measure things like trust in leadership and we respond to the concerns raised with us through these avenues. I’m a big believer in feedback; taking feedback on board is the best way to improve a person and a company’s policies and procedures.

What is your view on the relationship between employee engagement and customer engagement, performance and profitability?

We invest heavily in employee engagement. Engaged teammates are happy and productive teammates. We provide our people with clear direction and all the tools they need to develop their skills and their career. We offer quarterly team nights out, team building sessions and three big site parties every year. We offer great benefits like healthcare and four week sabbaticals every five years. We reward and recognise our teammates efforts and we thank them regularly for everything they do. Engaged teammates are committed to creating experiences their customers love and that drives performance and profitability.

Contact centres often get criticism for not delivering on customer service – what is your view on that and how do you make sure your contact centre operations stay ahead of the field?

People are at the heart of what we do. PayPal recently launched our new logo and brand campaign. It focuses on the statement ‘technology doesn’t change the world people do’.

That’s something many businesses often forget. For me it’s critical. We tell our teammates there are no buyers and sellers – only people. We treat all our customers with equal respect and we put their needs at the centre of what we do. We established internal initiatives like ‘Voice of the Customer’ which sets out to identify and resolve our customers top pain points. We encourage our people to use our products and we ask them for feedback when they do, at PayPal it’s called ‘be the customer’ – I call it ‘eating your own dog food’.

Finally what are your future plans in terms of further improvements to your customer engagement and experience at PayPal?

We are constantly adapting to our customer’s changing needs. The move to mobile is a prime example. Last year we processed $27 billion in mobile payments – a 99% increase on the year previous. The prevalence of smart phones and tablets mean that more and more people are using mobile devices to shop for goods. PayPal developed a new logo that works better on mobile apps and we partner with our merchants to make sure they keep up with this changing global trend. It’s about innovating to make sure that our merchants stay relevant to their customer base and that is something we are fully committed to..

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