Just call me Willie Nelson

… I’m on the road again (get it??) I can hear you groaning already 😉

I’m on my way to Vancouver today, for another site visit. This time we’re heading up to talk to the Customer Support organization that covers eBay buyers. Thankfully the pilot said it should be sunny when we land, and actually a reasonable temperature! I’m looking forward to the visit – my focus for the last year at eBay has been exclusively on sellers, so getting the chance to see first-hand what the buyers are struggling with should prove quite valuable.

This trip we’ll be doing more side-by-sides with the CS reps. Last week in Omaha, we were mostly plugged into telephones sitting next to reps (so we could listen in on their calls.) I’ve handled a lot of customer support in my day – but it was always with enterprise customers. In general I found that most of the folks calling in were pretty reasonable. We’d occasionally get the aggravated or frustrated individual, but they were usually manageable.

Oh, what a different world it is for the reps supporting the general consumer population! I have got to tip my hat to the team in Omaha. I realize it’s likely because we’re dealing with individuals finances and their personal purchases that they get so emotional, but GOOD GRIEF those folks could get pissed! I heard more profanity on some of those calls than I remember hearing at our frat house back at Stanford. To a person, the CS reps handled all the calls with aplomb, even when the callers got personal.

In any case, we came back with some interesting data for our project which will be great.

The one thing I found most unusual during the trip, though, was actually the building design. Omaha is in the midst of what they call “Tornado Alley.” Apparently during tornado season they get quite a few warnings each year. So, you’d think that the architects for the area would keep that in mind as they designed their structures. Here’s what the PayPal buildings look like:

img_6384.jpg

Now, it’s a little hard to see, but effectively this building IS MADE OF GLASS. The entire exterior is glass, floor to ceiling. And within the building, next to all that glass, is a huge ring of cubes. Conference rooms are all in the center.

Is this good design? I asked one of the folks what they thought. “Well, if a tornado is coming, we’ll at least be able to see it and run to a conference room to hide!” he said with a smirk. I’ll admit the views aren’t all that bad (though Nebraska is pretty flat)… but it sure looks like they’re just playing the odds with this design!

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~ by Nathan on February 14, 2007.

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