If anything ever goes south with your computer, you want to get to the bottom of it...and you want it resolved yesterday. So you go online and do some searches. You look in forums you trust. You head to the company’s support Web site to get your problem resolved. At some point, you may wind up hitting twitter and “@”-ing @hpsupport. That’s where you might meet up with the likes of Jeff Contos. His job: Getting to the bottom of problems – and trying to do right by you, the customer. Over a burger and a beer, we chatted a little bit about what he does on a daily basis.
TheNextBench.com: Beyond just telling me your title, how would you describe what you do at HP? Because it seems like a lot…
Jeff Contos: My main role is an Escalations Manager assisting customers with warranty and policy questions/concerns. Likewise, I lead a team of folks who look to identify customers who have not been pleased with their HP support experiences.
TNB: So…maybe I was raised on too much TV, but you make it sounds like you’re HP’s “The A-Team” or something. And, if so, does that mean you’re a nerdy version of Hannibal?
JC: [Laughing] If that is the way you want to phrase it. We are a unique team in the company, we are the only team that does what we do – search for customers with less-than-superior experiences at HP. We work through networked communities, different blogs, different sites (retail like Amazon and Best Buy; consumer forums like Tom’s Hardware). We go and try to reach out to them and see if we can help turn a bad situation around.
TNB: How did you get involved with @hpsupport?
JC: My involvement with HP Social Media came about a little more than 3 years ago when I was asked to pilot the use of twitter in looking for customers in need of assistance; @HPSupport was my twitter tag. Since then, it has become the most recognized HP twitter tag.
TNB: It’s great that you’ve been so involved in it since the beginning. What are some of the things you’ve learned in your time with it?
JC: Learnings: the opportunities for HP in the social media world are HUGE. Customer are willing to share their story; if there is genuine willingness to listen and to help. In order to be successful in social media, a company needs to ensure it has a solid support structure behind the effort.
TNB: So I can’t imagine it’s just you fielding all these questions. How many people are on your team and how many questions are you guys fielding on an average?
JC:There are 10 of us (myself included) who are involved in social media activities. We sift through 10,000 to 13,000 public posts per month as part of the job.
TNB: I’d hate to see your inboxes on Monday mornings. Is there a most common question people ask? Or is every day a new adventure?
JC: We get issues and topics thrown at us once in a while that are brand new and we dig into as best we can….but it depends. There are a lot of commonalities. Customers don’t typically read the warranty policy with their new product because they are excited to play with their new equipment. We wind up becoming interpreters of the warranty policy because people lose track of the paperwork. So, to anyone reading this, here’s a protip: Keep your paperwork together and read it. At some point!
TNB: OK, what would you say is the oddest / funniest tech support question?
JC: One customer asked if they could send their printer into HP for a thorough cleaning and tune up.
TNB: So….of course, you drove over to their house and vacuumed out the printer, right?
JC: [laughing] OH, my last training sessions didn’t include an in-home cleaning service. Which reminds me, I need to clean up my home office this weekend.
TNB: What would you say are a couple key bits of advice for what people should try to do on their own when it comes to troubleshooting their own PC problems? And what would be awesome for them to do prior to contacting you or your team?
JC: HP offers so many self-help paths which can save customers time and frustration. HP has created many excellent videos on PC and print products which are available online at Youtube. In fact, one of my favorites goes into detail about how to clear out a paper jam.
Similarly, customers can obtain answers to their technical questions from fellow HP product users and HP experts on the HP Consumer Support Forums.
TNB: I bet stuff like those videos has helped you - and users - a lot. One last question…for now: Why do I have this cup holder on my PC…?
JC: Ah the most interesting question of all!!! Well that ingenious device, the electronic cup holder, is really handy! Of course, everyone else on the planet calls it an optical drive.
In chatting with Jeff we both came to realize that there are plenty of great stories to share – people with problems and all the ways that we try to resolve them here at HP. Stick around because we’re going to be sharing more of those stories with you here at TheNextBench.com.
If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you tweet them (@hpsupport) you will find this A-Team.