Vamsi Gadey

Building Trust By Streamlining Problem Resolution Between Buyers & Sellers

A place where consumers and merchants resolve their post purchase issues



As the design lead, I worked:

  • with user research and product manager to frame the problem
  • with eBay and PayPal's customer service teams to understand downstream CS issues
  • with content strategist to iterate on designs


  • Interaction designer (Me)
  • Content strategist
  • Product manager
resolution center.jpg


There are several problems that buyers and sellers might face after a transaction on eBay. For example: seller did not receive the payment from the buyer, buyer did not receive the item after payment, buyer received an item that was damaged during shipping, buyer received an item that she is not happy with etc. 

Research revealed that a very significant percentage of buyers and sellers are not sure of the steps to take should a problem arise. It was clear that we had a trust issue going on, and that these users would leave eBay as they don't feel supported by the platform. 


eBay had an online communication tool called "Dispute Console" that helped buyers and sellers track, discuss, and resolve a dispute, post transaction. However, there was little usage of this tool by both buyers and sellers. Those who did use the tool were frustrated by the process itself taking too long, and hence didn't engage with it much.

Our hypothesis was that by improving entry points to Dispute Console, streamlining the resolution flow, and improving transparency, the resolution time will decrease. We planned to measure this by reduced CS contacts on eBay and PayPal, faster resolution time and reduced buyer churn.


Dispute Process: When something's gone wrong with a transaction on eBay, the first step is to let the other party know there's a problem. Most of the time buyers and sellers will be able to resolve issue simply by sending messages to each other, but if the seller or buyer haven't been able to fix things after 3 business days, buyer or seller can ask eBay to step in and help. eBay (and sometimes PayPal) will review the request, and get back to the buyer and the seller with the decision. If the buyer or the seller is not happy with eBay's decision, and they have extra information, they can appeal. eBay (and sometimes PayPal) will review the new information and get back to the buyer and seller with their final decision. Sometimes this process can take upto 90+ days leading to buyer/seller attrition from the marketplace.

Dispute Console Interface: Buyers and sellers used an interface called Dispute Console to navigate this process:



Collect, synthesize and brainstorm: I gathered the existing user research on churn around post-transaction problems, and documented the findings as a customer journey. Later, I worked with the product managers from eBay and PayPal to identify opportunities for improving the end-to-end process and mapped them along the customer journey.

Improve voice and tone: There was a lot of negativity associated with current content, including the name of the tool itself. We wanted to build trust starting with a more assuring voice and tone. We decided to name the tool "Resolution Center" instead of "Dispute Console".

Dispute Console? What does that even mean? I am not here to dispute or fight it out. I know stuff happens, and maybe the seller just fell sick or went on a vacation. I just want to resolve my problem in the fastest way possible. That’s why I am reaching out..
— eBay Buyer on User Research

Improve discoverability: One of the main things we wanted to problem solve was how we should bring more visibility to the new Resolution Center. Users shouldn't have to call Customer Service to figure out this tool exists. We decided to add more entry points into eBay buyer and seller interfaces. We added entry points from My eBay items, My Account, My Messages, Post-transaction emails, Confirmation screens, Help and Support website etc.


Cut down un-necessary steps: We used the context of the users and where they are coming from to streamline the resolution flow by cutting down as many unnecessary steps as possible.  


Improve transparency: For top users with a lot of buying and selling activity, we wanted to make sure the interface scaled well. We provided a bird's eye view of the status of all the cases with quick access to open vs closed ones, those that required user's attention vs those that were awaiting other party's response etc.:





  • We didn't have the right instrumentation and behavior metrics for Dispute Console. We had proxy metrics like CS contacts to help us understand the impact of the redesign, but it was hard to really understand how it improved the user's workflows. The learning was that it important to make sure the product you are redesigning is well instrumented before shipping the redesign.
  • The project was incredibly heavy on stakeholder management across not only different functions, but also from PayPal. While we regularly reviewed designs with our lead PM from Trust & Safety, we relied on the PM to get further feedback from multiple other PMs across the organization. This led to a lot of design churn. In hindsight, we should have identified stakeholders upfront and reviewed designs from all of them.
  • We should have invested more time into how we can improve the process itself, and how we can improve the notifications (emails, SMS etc.).