Meet Oscar Romero, Michael Spadafore, and Vanesa Zamudio - some of the faces behind the stellar Revel Support Team.
Oscar Romero graduated from Stanford University in 2011 with a BA in Human Biology. He worked with foster kids at a nonprofit immediately after graduating before coming to Revel in April of 2013. When not helping customers, Oscar enjoys reading: “I get sucked into Wikipedia black holes pretty frequently.” He also likes to watch “trashy reality TV” - aka The Bachelor.
Michael Spadafore moved to San Francisco from Cleveland, Ohio 3 years ago. He studied criminal justice at Lakeland Community College. He recently transferred to support from the lead gen team, where he’s been since April 2014. When not providing outstanding support at Revel, Michael loves sports, food, and “anything with a good view” - i.e., hiking and being outside, which includes boating & fishing and hunting.
Born and raised in South San Francisco, Vanesa attended Cal State East Bay, also studying criminal justice and psychology. She’s been at Revel since April 2014. When she’s not going above and beyond to help a customer, Vanesa enjoys sports (“go Niners!”), traveling, and spending time with family.
Tell me a little about your background.
MS: I worked random jobs, a lot of which were in the automotive industry - mechanical stuff, detailing, etc. I ran a small valet company out in Cleveland. I actually used Revel at my former job (Griffin), so it was an easy transition.
VZ: My background has nothing to do with tech, but did make me familiar with point of sale. Before this I was working at a lot of bar and restaurant jobs, and I’ve been using POS systems since I was 16. I also worked with kids in parks and rec for a bit.
OR: Immediately after college I started working with foster kids at a nonprofit. You could say that Revel is my first “legit” grownup job.
What drew you to support?
MS: I had been working in lead gen for awhile, and was here one weekend with a few of the support guys. They asked me if I wanted to jump on a support call, and offered me some great training on what to do.
VZ: This has been a really different experience for me - up until now, anything in tech would have scared me. I was working with Leo (Revel’s IT Administrator) in my previous job, and he saw my work ethic. He referred me to Revel, but didn’t exactly tell me how technical the job was going to be. If I had known at first that I’d be dealing with networking and how to configure stuff, I would’ve said “Nooooo.” But I was really drawn to the work. I see myself continuing to work in tech - it’s all around us, and technical and computer-based knowledge is so invaluable. This has been a great opportunity - it’s been crazy challenging, but it’s something I want to master.
OR: I liked the idea of working directly with people - not sitting behind a computer all day, but rather speaking and interacting with people every day. I like talking to people, to communicate with them on a daily basis, and to teach people. My role [Account Management] is really about learning the product and becoming a knowledge base for the clients - it came naturally to me and I enjoy it.
What’s your best Client Success story?
MS: I was working with this guy who had previously fallen under the radar. He had 10 terminals with plans on opening more locations, and needed help getting everything in fluid working order. I spent a week and half working with him, tweaking this and that, and was finally able to get things turned around. He’s now opening up two more locations with 20 more terminals. It was really satisfying helping someone who hadn’t had the best of luck before, who had experienced some frustration, and get him totally turned around.
VZ: There was one client at a street fair, on a Saturday, who was freaking out because it was 30 minutes before he was supposed to open and his iPads weren’t syncing. As a coffee shop, he was understandably concerned about missing out on sales from those early-morning passers-by - for him, it was his worst nightmare. Literally, though, it turned out being one of those things where I asked him to unplug his router, plug it back in, and reset to main. Five second later, everything syncs. He was the happiest person alive. As a support person, you get the chance to help a business owner, who in turn is supporting his family - you just feel good. In this case, he just needed someone to be there for him - and that’s what we’re here for.
OR: We had a grocery client who was going live in two days, and we’d inputted about five to six thousand of his items when we realized that an extra digit was being added to all the items. This meant that whenever an item was scanned the barcode would come up incorrectly. He thought he would have to redo everything, and wouldn’t be ready for his opening, and was therefore understandably freaking out. However, I discovered you can configure the barcode scanner to drop the extra digit that being added on, and he ended up opening ahead of schedule. He was so relieved, he told me I “saved his ass.”
What’s the most common fix?
MS: Power cycles - people leave iPads on for days. It’s always a good idea to turn off iPads once in awhile, as well as close out windows and apps you aren’t using.
VZ: Yeah I’ve noticed that. I’ve gone to plenty of clients where they have so many windows open. Another great fix is, if your iPads aren’t syncing, make sure you’re not on a DHCP or on static. This one of the most common issues people have, and it’s as easy as going onto the iPad and checking settings. Having a basic knowledge of networking is really great for quick fixes.
OR: If everything seems to suddenly stop working, check what network you’re on. More than likely you’re connected to the Starbucks WiFi across that street, and that’s why nothing is working. Make sure you’re on the Revel network.
What’s the biggest challenge?
MS: Honestly, finding out what is really going on - often we’re dealing with 3rd party technicians, and we’re unaware of what they’re doing. It’s trying to isolate the problem - is it a cable issue? A hardware issue? User error? It’s a challenge to get the client to relay what exactly is wrong.
OR: Keeping up-to-date on the product. It changes so fast, and there are a bunch of new features once a week or every two weeks. Because we’re serving as the knowledge base for the customer, it’s challenging to keep up with all the cool new stuff we’re putting out there.
VZ: The biggest challenge for me is being my own worst critic. I wanted to come in and learn everything super fast, but it’s literally not possible. We learn so much every day, and have people around us that are still learning too. Being the only girl in support has been more of a motivation than a challenge - it shows others that you shouldn’t be afraid to be the only girl in a group of guys. We’re a really cool team.
That brings me to my next question - How does teamwork play a role in your day-to-day?
MS: It’s a team sport. No one knows everything. So many things come in, and every case is different. You have to pick everybody’s brain - there’s no “this is your case, you solve it.” It can be loud and stressful - everyone has clients with pressing issues, and we rely on each other to get them the support they need.
VZ: I like to think of it as a dysfunctional family. “Teamwork” is an understatement - everyone works so hard. Communication is a strong point for us, and being able to teach each other and give direction - we’re all still learning from each other. It simply wouldn’t work without teamwork.
OR: Because there’s so much to know, no one person can know everything. A lot of the issues are dealt with via a collaborative process, and that way everybody’s knowledge base grows. There’s always someone who’s been here longer, who can teach you how to do it, and that in turn trickles down to the next person. Teamwork is an integral part of our day-to-day.
What is something you’d like the world to know about support?
MS: We deal with a lot of hardware and networking stuff, and it’s challenging when we’re overwhelmed with requests for help. We know a lot about the system, and are always eager to share that knowledge with the rest of the organization. We’re nice! And happy to help with requests. “Teamwork” here means not just the support team but Revel Systems as a whole - support is not a separate unit, but part of a larger whole. We don’t keep things running smoothly by handling everything by ourselves.
VZ: Overall it takes a special person to be a part of support. You have to be kind of crazy [Michael nods in agreement]. A support member is 90% hard working (working your ass off!) - you have to be a little out of your mind to deal with this kind of work. It’s really a selfless job - we’re not here for the gold medal or to earn recognition. We’re here to do our job and make sure the client is taken care of.
OR: There are a lot of specializations within the support team, because there’s a lot of nuance to the product. As I said before, no one person knows everything. So if you call in and feel as though you’re being passed around, it’s only because we are trying to connect you with the person who can best address your issue.