Fifteen years ago, Gladys Aadland joined HP as an interactive marketing manager.
The demographics and the adoption are always changing in social media, and that's where social fascinates me.
She came to the company with a diverse skill set, bringing along her experience in e-commerce, IT, web strategy, customer service and support, and development. Since then, she's been involved in many areas of HP including leading efforts to consolidate their 30+ web properties into one, creating a contextualized commerce experience, CRM, product registration and email marketing, contact center strategy, and web strategy. “Although,” she laughs, “there are a couple of functions I haven not touched: sales and finance.”
In 2008, Gladys advocated for bringing online communities to HP.
And after gaining approval, a lengthy process in and of itself, she spent about half of her time in her role designing the web and self-service strategies and the other half designing the new social and web-user experience.
“To me, social media sounded like a new way to interact with customers, be customer-centric, and understand their pain points,” Gladys says. “I found that I was passionate about social media and connecting with the customer in a more interactive way.”
Now, HP's peer-to-peer customer care communities receive 125+ million visitors per year.
Through the online communities, customers get support from their peers. Meanwhile, Gladys' team monitors the conversations and manages the back-end operations. And while the community is primarily peer-to-peer, if a customer isn't getting their question answered, Gladys' team will engage one of the company's 75 social agents to get the job done.
With seven individual communities around the world covering seven different languages, Gladys's team includes five language-specific community managers. Her team also includes a global admin and operations manager, a social engagement strategy manager, a social analytics manager, an events and proactive content strategy manager, and a dedicated developer. The community is also staffed with moderators and admins for each language community who ensure the daily operations run smoothly.
With such a large and globally diverse team, HP's Global Social Customer Care Organization is still very much in sync.
I'm totally into testing. You try new things, you fail fast, and you evolve.
The team gathers at the beginning of every fiscal year to agree on and define their collective objectives, priorities, and strategy for the upcoming year. “We try to keep it focused and short, with around three to five high-level objectives. From there, we develop projects for the highest impact to our community and our social channels.”
And to stay in touch on a regular basis, Gladys' team talks regularly on WhatsApp and Skype and holds weekly staff meetings to share progress and collaborate. Gladys also spends one-on-one time with each of her team members, at least bi-weekly. “My team is globally diverse, but I still talk to them at least once a day,” she says. “We have a very synergetic, collaborative team. They all have different strengths and pull from each other to deliver the best programs they can together.”
“It's a challenge to keep up with the industry and change that's happening in social media.”
“The demographics and the adoption are always changing in social media, and that's where social fascinates me,” Gladys says.
With customer care communities in so many countries, Gladys' team has to stay on top of globally emerging channels and technologies as well as keeping track of what is happening in the regions. Right now, they're taking an interest in platforms like WeChat, KakaoTalk, Line, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.
Regional leads for both communities and social media channels are on the ground and help her team understand these platforms, what's going on in that market, and where their customers are looking for support.
“I'm totally into testing. You try new things, you fail fast, and you evolve.”
Gladys says they're always experimenting with new channels as well as looking at what's coming next. In some areas of her communities, they can share and manipulate content, measure to see if it's working or not, and make a change in less than 24 hours.
“Ideally, a solution happens and things get better so you can provide a better customer experience. Our customers are definitely number one, and we're here to serve them.”
The customer and their experience has been the unifying thread across Gladys' career at HP for the last 15 years.
“I think I've been drawn to the customer because I am a customer also. I would want to be treated a certain way, and I have high expectations. You need to focus on the experience they have with your company and really own the issues, questions, and problems — no matter what it takes.”
Gladys has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2014. Find her on Twitter here.