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Q&A: What are some tips for a new Tech Support Representative?

Much of what you have to know in a tech support job is dependent on what you’re supporting. There will be seemingly infinite details to learn about the products and/or systems you support.

That said, there’s a few elements that tend to cut across nearly everyone working in tech support. We actually built a help desk training course around them, but I’m happy to share the core elements here.

1) Focus on creating an easy experience for the customers you support. Especially when you’re just getting started, it’ll be hard to learn every system and know every detail. Focusing on doing tasks that help make the customers life easier is a great way to start. Something you can focus on which is often not tied to specific knowledge but rather in putting in extra effort, keeping in constant communication with the customer, and so on.

2) Really get to know your product. It’s kinda obvious, but you need to put in the time to get to understand it at a deep level. Here’s a few tips on that.

  1. Read the documentation (really!)
  2. Check out old support requests – There’s a treasure trove in there. Read through them as you can.
  3. Read “canned” responses – Other staff have taken the time to craft these replies. Reading through them lets you learn about the product as well as be aware of what replies exist for your own use.
  4. Browse your company’s blog – Especially if it’s an active blog. Even if it’s “just” marketing you can learn a lot there.

3) Brush up on email etiquette. – We go deeper on this in the course but a few things to watch out for:

  1. Pay attention to tone. It’s easy to end up sounding robotic in support emails.
  2. Apologize! Flat out saying your sorry about a messup is often highly disarming to customers (in a good way). Just when they’re ready to lay into you, your coming out and saying yeah we screwed up we’re really sorry humanizes you. It cuts through in a way trying to sidestep never does.
  3. Ask for clarification instead of assuming. Yes, this may cause you a few more back and forth emails, but if you’re unsure about anything on the customers end (a system configuration, what version of a product they’re using, etc) get clarification
  4. Read your email out loud. You’ll be surprised at how well this roots out unnaturally sounding phrases.

4) Keep your cool when things go wrong. Everything is going to go wrong! It happens. A lot.

  1. Don’t take a customer’s bad behavior personally.
  2. The customer is not your enemy. The enemy is the problem.
  3. Your job is to solve the problem.
  4. Make time to “move on”. After a rough case, take a walk. Grab a coffee. Chill out for a few before jumping back in if at all possible.

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