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What makes good support?

I’ve previously been asked “What is it about doing technical support that you enjoy?” It may seem a simple question, but it’s actually quite tricky to answer. 

Myself, I don’t have any official qualifications in IT or customer support. But with over 20 years of it under my belt, I can accurately say that I’ve been there and seen most of it. 

The importance of being honest

To be good with support, means to be good with customers. 

It might sound obvious but it’s surprising how many get it wrong. It’s not necessarily a technical background. It’s not having ‘the gift of the gab’; we leave that to the sales folk. It’s not even being the quick-fixer or the person who is top of the ‘closed ticket leaderboard’. 

It’s being a listener, an educator and understanding the importance of empathy. Yes, knowing your product is very useful, but it’s not the be all and end all. There’s nothing wrong in saying “I don’t know” – it’s what comes after that which is important. Nobody is perfect and people respect you more if you aren’t.

Great expectations

The key to it all is setting expectations. 

You need to set the ground rules from day one, and I mean this at all levels. All support teams have Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that they aim to keep within. This is all well and good until that really tricky case comes in and the stated ‘Target Resolution Time’ goes straight out of the window. It’s at this point honesty comes back into play. Individual expectations need to be outlined. And letting the customer know it’s something particularly perplexing at the time they raise the issue means they’re less likely to expect you to resolve it right there and then. 

But, communication is crucial. Keep them informed, update their expectations if something changes, and 9/10 they’ll be a happy bunny..

War then peace

Remember, we’re all human!

Everyone’s heard the nightmare support stories of folk ranting down the line at the support agent. It’s easy for them to rant at a ‘robot’ but it’s also easy for the agent to scoff at the frustration. The customer is a person, the agent is a person. Both should ask themselves “What would I do in their shoes?” 

It might be hard to believe, but one of the most satisfying conclusions to a support call is the one where they start off in rant mode. Yes it can be very stressful, but if in the end they are thanking you for your help and they go away happy that you’ve improved a small part of their day, then it’s an improvement to your day as well.

It’s only natural

So what is it about doing technical support that I enjoy? 

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want those calls all day long. But once in a while when you come away knowing that you’ve changed someone’s mood for the better and helped them get on with their day, you just get that internal smile of satisfaction. 

As humans, we all feel good when we help others. And I think that’s where the root of being a good Support Guru lies.

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