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The Social Media Strategies Summit in NYC in fast-approaching! Our speakers are excited to share their expertise and insights, and we've had the pleasure of hearing some inside tips from our speakers.

Patricia Graca, Director of Social Care at Hewlett-Packard, was kind of enough to share her perspective and experience as she prepares for her session on day two of the summit on the B2C track. Continue reading for the inside track on Patricia's initiatives and the social customer care strategy at HP.

[J] What is the number one thing to consider when planning a social media strategy for customer care? 

[P] A successful social support strategy must be based on measurable objectives and a clear vision of how success is defined. Understanding the customer and how they interact with social media is key to determining where and how to invest in social support.

With a strategic foundation in place and a clear understanding of what defines successful customer engagement, the HP digital support team is able to implement an agile execution plan. When it comes to digital support, and specifically social support, the ability to be nimble is critical to meeting the needs of the customer in a constantly changing medium.  The team must expect the unexpected, and be ready to turn on a dime, because the way in which customers use social media, what type of information they seek, and how they prefer to engage or participate can shift rapidly and regularly.

With these deliverables in mind, listening to the customer is the number one priority.  Listening to the customer is the trigger for success in each phase of planning and executing a social support strategy.  Listening to customer conversations on their post-purchase experience in social networking Web sites, branded and third party forums, blogs or retailer review sites enables us to understand the main audiences we need to engage with, the topics being discussed, the volume of conversations, and the influence and sentiment of our customers.  This understanding helps us prioritize our investments and build an engagement roadmap.

[J] What has been HP's biggest social media success?

[P] One of the ways HP has delivered customers an exceptional social support experience is through our peer-to-peer support communities.  HP launched the Consumer Support Forums in 2009 and have since grown and retained a community of customers who add tremendous value.  Today HP Consumer Support Forums are available in seven different languages worldwide and last year there were more than 69 million visits to the forums.

HP has many customers who serve as brand advocates and are willing to provide helpful advice on our products to other customers.These customer experts, or power users, are the lifeblood of the forums, helping us help our customers. Providing a platform for the large and growing number of customers who seek help with their HP products, and enabling, recognizing and rewarding these experts who help fellow customers, is a key to the success of the HP Consumer Support Forums.

[J] What has been HP's biggest social media challenge?

[P] HP’s biggest social media challenge also represents its largest opportunity - specifically the vast scale of our business.  

HP has a huge installed base of customers around the world who use hundreds of millions of products.  The massive scope and size of our customer base leads to a constantly increasing group of customers that demand ongoing support through social media channels. As a result, the number of conversations we need to listen to, and engage in, is also sizeable. We want to be where our customers are – to listen - in order to provide support on the channels where they seek it out. We focus many of our efforts on how to expand and optimize HP’s reach across social media channels to deliver an easy and effective social support experience.


[J] What do you see as the future of HP's digital footprint?

[P] We know that customers want choice and flexibility when it comes to digital support, and our goal in the HP Customer Support organization is to provide a smart, efficient model for support that gives customers what they want, where they want it. The way people access digital support will continue to evolve and play an increasingly important role in the customer experience.  The future of HP digital support is a seamless interaction between whatever online, on-product or social media support channels the customer wants to engage through, and which ultimately solves their problem quickly and easily.

Listening, engaging, and resolving customer issues, or helping customers make  the most out of their product through digital support – whether through our peer-to-peer support community or off-domain websites, our customer care website, our on-product support tools, our email or chat tools – is at the core of the HP Customer Support strategy. HP Customer Support also understands how critical it is for the digital support team and call centers to remain tightly coordinated. Constant communication is essential between these teams in order to share and disseminate helpful information specific to customer issues and solutions.

We’re deploying digital tools and technologies so that we can monitor and proactively address potential concerns before they ever become an issue for the customer. We want to enable a digital support experience that is tailored to be the most effective for each customer.

At the end of the day, we want to earn our customers’ trust and want them to know we are listening – no matter how or when they reach out for help.

We want to thank Patricia Graca and HP for participating in this interview and providing such great information. Be sure to see Patricia in action as she presents at the SMSSummit NYC!

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