One vital component of tech support is people skills that can be learned through a variety of sources including sales experience. Of course, it is important to understand what tech support is and isn’t. Additionally, the question arises of how important tech support has become to the consumer. How much does the average person use technology and need the service?
Increased Technology Use
The average American home uses complex technology. At the basic level, consider cell phones and computers. Beyond that, however, sources such as Emerj.com note that homes are increasingly utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, cleaning and entertainment robots and more. Smart technology enables users to control the lighting, heating and cooling and security of their homes remotely. All this technology comes with a caveat: it can fail. When it does, users may be faced with the task of troubleshooting in an area where they have no expertise.
Customer Support, Not Tech Support
Americans look for help online. Once, most products came with a print user’s manual. Today, most products and services only have directions for quick set-up and their manuals are available at the company website. The Internet is full of self-help articles and videos. These can be frustrating because their creators often assume viewers will have a rudimentary level of tech knowledge and few do. In the face of problematic tech issues, customers will first search the internet for simple fixes. When that fails, they will call a tech support number. Customers expect the person who takes their call to have hard tech skills learned through their degree programs and other educational resources, but they will also expect the responder to have people skills and customer service-type attitudes. These attributes could certainly be acquired through experience in retail sales.
What differentiates tech support from customer support? Customer support deals with issues such as billing, product availability and general questions about the service or product. Tech support deals with issues such as errors in installation, connectivity problems, breakage and other things that keep consumers from using the product or service.
“Hard” Tech Skills
Support tech people must know the product. That, increasingly, requires more IT skills and knowledge. An article in Forbes says that tech jobs are expected to increase by 12 percent through 2024. Those jobs are assuredly in creation, programming and design, but also in maintenance and repair. Additionally, those skills must be continually upgraded as technology increases. All that means the “average Joe” user will be ever more reliant upon tech support.
People interested in careers in tech support need a foundational degree in internet technology. They also might anticipate the field in which they would work by taking electives in programming, coding, computer architecture and other general technical information. Once they get positions in support for a particular product or service, they also need to know that product “inside-out.” The SuperOffice.com blog says that every time a business cannot solve a problem through tech support, they are potentially losing a customer.
“Soft” Tech Skills
Support tech personnel must know people. While tech support employers look for the degree on a resume, they also look for “soft” skills. These are the skills that people with experience in retail would probably have honed. A few components of this kind of skill are listed here:
- Communication Skills: While many IT companies outsource their tech support, they understand how frustrating it is to need assistance but to not be able to understand the response. This goes beyond accents. It includes courteous and proper communication and the ability to express thoughts precisely. Telling a customer to unplug the “thingy” from the port would certainly not lead to consumer confidence.
- Active Listening: This is the ability to hear what the customer’s actual complaint is and not what the technician perceives is wrong.
- People Reading: This name for psychology, or knowledge of human behavior, helps technicians anticipate when a task is becoming too difficult or too frustrating for the customer to handle. It also helps them react calmly when the customer is upset.
- Self-Control and Patience: Tech service and customer service techs can be subjected to a lot of verbal abuse. That is also true of salespersons. An ability to be non-reactive is vital.
- Friendliness and Empathy: This is a no-brainer. Customers may not be able to see a tech support person, but they can “hear a smile in his voice.” The ability to be engaging and friendly also helps to establish trust.
Most human resource managers understand that a positive tech service experience builds company loyalty. That experience depends upon the hard and the soft skills employed by the technician.
When creating a professional resume, it is important to list job experience, beginning with the earliest. It also is important to list skills and responsibilities. Although the focus should be on education, technical knowledge and skills, people with sales experience should certainly list it, along with the skills that were developed through that job. Skills that might be listed are problem-solving ability, adaptability, time management and some of the ones already explored in this article. While humility is an asset, each skill possessed by an applicant should be noted matter of factly.
There are so many issues that can arise with IT support. Among these is the possibility of re-directing and fraud from an unknown entity. Employers whose support lines are manned by capable specialists who handle issues in a friendly and trustworthy manner will find they have fewer hang-ups and disconnects. Along with IT skills, a technology support person needs the soft skills they don’t develop in a college class.