Customer support work is one of the most varied vocations in any business environment. Whether you’re in a call centre, working in an IT department or dealing with complaints at the front desk, you’ll never know what’s going to be thrown at you until you arrive for a day’s work.
How do you know if you can cope with the demands of the role? Here are five skills you’ll need.
Working in support is one of the most trying jobs in an IT department. It’s no surprise that there’s a high churn rate in these jobs, with the service desk being an entry point, rather than a long-term career choice, for many.
Dealing with customer queries can test your patience to the limit, particularly when the same issues come up every day. It’s key that team members can manage their frustration and see the bigger picture. As part of this, you may need to let go of your pride and say sorry to customers, even if it’s not your fault.
Customer support roles can be samey, but they can also present sudden, unanticipated challenges. If a system goes down, or a crisis hits the media, front line staff will be the first ones to know about it. That means quick reactions are required, and the team will need to adapt to huge increase in demand. You might be asked to do overtime, go on-call or step in and man the phones.
The end result, despite all the pressure, should be customer satisfaction. If demand changes, or people need help fast, you need to be flexible enough to cope when the goalposts are moved. More importantly, you need to do it with a smile.
Sometimes, customer support teams feel like they’re fighting a lone battle, but it’s critical that each person is allowed to put forward their own ideas. Often, repeated enquiries and persistent issues can be resolved using workarounds, or a bit of creative thinking within the team.
If you have initiative, you’ll quickly become an indispensable member of any customer-facing team. This is particularly true in IT, where a workaround, or new communication strategy, can ease the pressure on the rest of the department. If you can solve problems and suggest ways forward, you’ll be valued more than the rest.
In most organisations, customer relations work can be a springboard to all kinds of exciting careers. While the job may not be your end goal, it can help to test you; to help you figure out what you excel at.
Whether you focus on managing your workload, or elevating team KPIs, it helps to create personal goals and strive to become better. Chat with your team leaders and managers to get some focused insight and guidance.
5. A sense of humour
Dealing with customers is always a mixed bag of triumphs, tears and challenges. You’ll get the customers who want to rant, the customers who make complaints, and the treasured few who praise you to the heavens for a job well done. Through each working day, the ability to laugh at the bad times will make them so much easier to bear.
Provided you keep your mirth strictly within the team, a little light-hearted banter does wonders to diffuse stress without coming across as unprofessional or uncaring.
Enjoying your job
In customer support, the most important thing you can do is get value and enjoyment from your day. You might get satisfaction from resolving problems, or secretly chalk up the number of times you closed most calls in a day. The key is to put your best foot forward and make the most of the challenges you’re offered.