Such a burgeoning new type of career sounds pretty awesome, right? Support is really engaging and exciting if you are passionate and interested in a few key things. If you aren’t, it can feel like those torturous call banks that I mentioned above: an onslaught of questions that frustrate you and make you feel like you’re being jerked in a million different directions.
So, what’s the best way to figure out if support is the right job for you? Here are a few key things that you should enjoy or be able to do if you’re considering devoting yourself to developing your career in support as an industry.
When you were a kid, were you constantly asking your family members or the people around you questions like “Why’s the sky blue?” or “How come we have skin?” If so, you’re off to a good start. Usually whatever you are working to support, be it a product, software, or service, will change over the course of your time with a company; if you’re not curious, you might get left behind when it comes to knowing the right answer to your customers’ queries.
Similarly, if you don’t like asking questions, your product or service might end up with a buggy release that puts your customers’ loyalty at jeopardy. The support team at a company can be integral in ensuring that anything that goes out to customers makes sense, or meets customer needs and expectations. This is primarily because they have the most contact with customers and know them best, but also because they are usually tasked with writing up support documentation and information prior to anything being released. Are you the type of person to see something that might not make the most sense and just leave it for fear of stirring things up, or are you willing to ask hard questions if it means something better in the long run? If you’re the former: support probably isn’t for you. If you’re the latter: jump on in, the water’s just fine.
Depending on the company, support and remote jobs can be pretty…all-consuming. There are always customers to help and if you are on the front-line, you might always have to be the person to help them. So, being comfortable in setting your work-life boundaries and saying “no” can be very important, if you have things that you care about outside of work (like a partner, or a passion). That being said, it’s possible that you will work for a company that is already comfortable at enforcing those boundaries, or you don’t mind working long daily spans of time. If either of those is the case: awesome! If you are not comfortable in setting appropriate boundaries for yourself or don’t know how to, a career in support might not be the right fit for you until you figure it out.
Have you ever had to work on a project that required fast-paced team communication? For example, maybe you had to read passages from a book, and synthesize them into something a sentence or so long for a teammate who then had to create something out of them? The shift from reading the book to forming a thought in your mind summarizing the passage can be very difficult, the reason being that you are switching context. You’re trying to do two things at once, and are doing neither to your best ability.
While context switching is a killer when it comes to productivity and efficiency, it is much of a support person’s life. Support people have to work, oftentimes, in multiple channels communicating with customers, but as also the first point of contact when team members have questions, too. So, imagine this: you’re answering an email to a customer that you’ve been working with, but then a chat comes through from a customer who is slightly higher priority (and needs a quicker response because of chat), but as you’re working on that, you get a ping in your work internal chat from one of the members of the sales team asking if you can hop on a call. Does the sound of that give you anxiety, or does it sound like old potatoes? If the hot seat is your comfort zone, you’ll do excellently on a support team.
Support team members are paid to care about how others are feeling, and help them get to the bottom of their problems. As extremely empathetic people, support people take on the emotions of everyone that they talk to on any given day. This is good because it means that they can really understand where the customer is coming from and be an excellent advocate for them, but it’s also tricky because they need to know how to avoid taking on the anger and frustration that customers will sometimes hurl at them when they don’t get their way.
The customer is not always right, but the customer does always deserve to be treated with respect. If you want to work in support, it’s important to understand that just because a customer is angry doesn’t mean that the customer is angry with you. Similarly, that you need to be able to wash that anger and frustration off of you and continue on to the next customer in order to do your job well. Having that level of emotional maturity to not take an angry customer personally is incredibly important in support and will lend itself to a strong and capable support person. If that sounds like you, or you usually feel extremely grounded in your emotions, then support might be a good fit for you.
Do you love legos, playing puzzle games and word problems, or just figuring things out? Support people need to be good at poking, prodding and putting together pieces where others might miss them. For example, a customer might reach out with what seems like an excellently formed question with all the information you need to solve it. A good support person, though, would use context from past experiences to know that maybe not everything is as it seems. They’d go digging just a little bit deeper into the situation and uncover something like might have been missed by someone else without a few back-and-forths with the customer.
An eye for detail and a keen interest in getting to the bottom of things and understanding how they work is crucial for a support person hoping to build their career in the industry. So, if you’ve taken a pencil sharpener apart and put it back together again, this type of role might be good for you.
Does that all sound like a good time to you? Read on!