Interview with PayPay Leaders is a series of interviews with PayPay top executives showcasing their personalities and perspectives. Hideto Kozu, Division Head, CS (Customer Service) Division
Division Head,CS(Customer Service) Division
After working at a website building startup, an advertising company, and the advertising department of Yahoo Japan Corporation, he was in charge of Yahoo’s CS department. He has been with PayPay since before its launch in 2018 and became the head of CS division. The web & communication field has been his career focus. Father of two daughters.
Organization and Role of CS Division
24/7/365 customer support at five locations
The CS Division is dedicated to providing customer support at PayPay. We have about 90 employees and operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at five locations across Japan, including a center in Kitakyushu, together with partner companies that provide initial support.
PayPay customers include both general app users and merchants, so we provide support for both of them. In addition to responding to regular inquiries, we also provide information necessary for each customer, such as system maintenance notifications, initial responses to system incidents, and responding on Twitter. In the future, we will also reply to reviews we receive on the app store.
We have telephone, email, and Twitter accounts as points of contact with our customers, but we would like to create an environment where customers can quickly resolve issues on their own through web solutions, such as help pages and chatbots.
With PayPay users increasing across Japan, inquiries are wide-ranging
PayPay has been around for three and a half years now.
At first, we were busy responding to basic questions about the PayPay app, like “I can’t figure out how to use the app,” but these inquiries have lessened significantly.
I think it’s largely because the number of people using PayPay has increased nationwide, and now there are more people around them who they can ask how to use PayPay. Isn’t that nice?
Many of the inquiries we receive recently are related to something that can only be handled by CS. For example, you can change your phone number by yourself, but if you created two accounts with two different phone numbers, you need our support. The rest of the inquiries are about campaigns, incidents, and new services like “PayPay Atobarai.” We can say that they’ve changed a lot in both quality and quantity.
Strengths unique to CS, where members must be flexible to changes all the time
The organization of CS has also been constantly changing. Back in 2018, all inquiries were handled by our own employees only, but with the “10 Billion Yen Giveaway Campaign,” the number of inquiries rose dramatically, taking us to our breaking point. So we finally said, “We can’t do it all by ourselves!”
At that time, PayPay was not a well-known service yet, but as there was a lot of media coverage, customers wanted to take advantage of the campaign, and they wanted to get the most out of it. We received a lot of inquiries about the terms and conditions of the campaign, and many hours of complaints and scolding.
Since then, there have been new issues to deal with, such as fraudulent use, and we overcame them by figuring out how to handle them. They’re good memories now.
It’s common practice at CS to flexibly change the structure in accordance with the nature and scale of the business. Thanks to this, when PayPay changed its policy to “Work From Anywhere at Anytime (WFA),” or full remote work, the transition was smooth, including the separation of operations that can be done remotely from those that cannot.
This flexibility may be a strength unique to CS, which was cultivated by the constant need for flexibility in the face of ever-changing circumstances.
“Users First” Is More than Just a Mantra at PayPay
Proactively gather information and coordinate internally
The mission of the CS Division is to “never cause trouble for customers in the first place” and “solve issues immediately even if they arise.”
To do this, it is essential to build close relationships with related departments such as Product and Marketing on a regular basis. We make sure to check the services at certain points in the flow such as during the design phase or before release, but the CS review sometimes falls through the cracks (laughs). That’s why CS members need to keep their radar up at all times and proactively gather as much information to keep up-to-date with the business, such as what Product wants to do, what Marketing is trying to do, and so on.
While our basic stance is to be understanding and flexible, we sometimes say no, and make our case for change when we find something non-negotiable from the user experience perspective. Simply waiting is not what PayPay’s CS does.
In fact, the CS contact rate for general users has recently dropped to nearly 1% of what it was immediately after the launch of PayPay. This is the result of cooperation between each department in the company and CS.
Top management asks us, “Are you really listening to your customers?”
In fact, it is out top management that is most vocal within PayPay about putting users first. In particular, Nakayama-san, the President, always gives us feedback from the customer’s perspective.
“Are you sure they’ll get the message?”
“Won’t they have any doubts if we’re going to keep it that way?”
He has been constantly telling this to all employees from all departments. This is what makes PayPay’s corporate culture.
We pursue speed and “no trouble for customers” at a high level
Putting users first is not just a phrase at PayPay, but is thoroughly implemented, and is compatible with business growth at a high level. This is truly amazing. It’s not good to be focused solely on one or the other.
Furthermore, customers have a variety of needs, and some of the feedback we receive at CS is contradictory. As it is difficult to fulfill 100% of all the requests, it is important to strike a balance between making sure in every way that our customers won’t get into trouble while not slowing down the business too much.
PayPay’s CS is also expected to pursue this balance at a high level. This is what sets us apart from other companies, and every department at PayPay strives toward this ideal.
Why that error, and what exactly should we do?
It’s been three years since PayPay was launched, and recently we’ve seen a significant decrease in the number of cases where a single issue affects a huge number of customers, so we’ve been focusing on solving problems that some of our customers are facing.
For example, we are improving our error messages so that they don’t just show it’s an error to the user, but rather provide a correct solution, like “This is what this error is about,” “This is what is happening now,” and “The solution is on the help page, so please follow the instructions there.” We make about 100 small improvements like this every half year.
What’s Fun and Challenging, Our Future Focus, and What’s in Store for PayPay CS
For those aiming for PayPay CS, try to remember whatever seems amiss
I’m often asked at recruitment interviews, “Is there anything I should prepare for before joining the company?” Here’s what I tell them.
“Once you join the company, you become an ‘insider’ and start saying, ‘I have no choice for this reason.’ So, until you join, please take note of what you think is wrong through the eyes of a complete outsider and make sure to hold on to that feeling of discomfort. As a CS member, you will be in a position to tell the relevant departments in the company, ‘That’s not right. Please fix it for the users.’ You will be able to completely look at things from an outsider’s perspective only until you join the company, so please remember that now.”
We want to make the world a little better but we can’t do it alone. That’s why we have colleagues.
PayPay’s service is helping to make everyone’s daily lives a little more convenient and a little better. I’m glad to be able to help make the world a better place, and it’s also fun to see how much our business has grown and how so many more people are using our service.
However, in order to achieve the “a little more convenient” and “a little better” for more people, we must make improvements on a regular basis with speed, see how they go, and make further improvements.
PayPay’s business is moving forward at top speed, so we are seeking for people who can solve problems from a user’s perspective in a speedy manner.
No one can build on top of our accumulated efforts alone. That’s why we are looking forward to working with those who can be part of a team where all the members trust each other.
Like everyone who has been with PayPay since Day 1, Kozu-san achieved what he did just because of who he is. He is one of the legends essential to the company. He joined PayPay on a mission to lay the foundation of the CS structure for a sales company, which turned into an app service company in the middle of the project. The specifications of the service were not yet defined when he joined, but he somehow managed to get the service released just in time through discussions in English with the Product Team. Oh my goodness.. Excellent work Kozu-san!
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Special Thanks: Hideto Kozu / Author & Editor: Az (PayPay Inside-Out Editorial Team) / Photo: Tak / Translator: Language Communication Team / Translation Editor: Justin
*Employees’ affiliations and other information are those at the time of the interview.