Customer Support Is A Career, Not A Pit Stop
Published: October 13, 2021
Do You Have A Career-Minded Customer Support Team?
— or are they just there for a job?
When you examine your customer support department, best practices and processes, do you ever ask yourself, “is my support crew career-minded? Or are they just here for a job?”
Honestly, it can be one of the most important questions to ask. Simply because it could determine the level of dedication they are willing to have. And also the level of care they will give your customers.
People instinctively know when they are being paid lip service by an employee who really just doesn’t care. They can tell when they encounter individuals who show up every day just for a paycheck as opposed to those who sincerely care about the impact they are making. Not only on the company but the customer relations themselves.
Now, there is nothing wrong with having people on your support team who are inexperienced and gaining knowledge or working students or even work from home mothers and so on. But what’s essential to keep in mind is the tasks they are performing. Are you just filling seats to answer easy customer questions? Or does your support department demand a higher level of interaction to build that relationship and focus on customer experience and retention?
Technical Customer Support Is A Different Animal Entirely
Technical customer support requires a different level of dedication. It involves an in-depth understanding of the product that the agent is supporting. These roles many times are filled with individuals who have a more intricate understanding of programming or how applications work etc. But this still leaves the question as to how dedicated they are to actual support, or is working as support simply a stepping stone in their career?
I’m reminded of the movie with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson called The Internship (2013). It’s a comedy about two older guys who intern at Google for a summer, competing against many younger (and smarter) students for a full-time job at Google.
In the above clip I shared in the link, Vince and Owen have to work at the Google Helpline as part of their internship. I was happy they included this vital part of a major software company. However, I was a little disappointed at how almost insignificant they made working the Helplines out to be. Yes, they emphasized the importance of it, but I’m almost certain if you were to visit the Google Helpline centers, you would find a more long-term-minded team of individuals.
That’s the level of technical customer support I’m talking about. Those that would want to make a career out of working support. They strive to be not just subject matter experts but actually customer support experts.
Hiring Students For Your Customer Support
Working in a customer support department is a great way for working students to gain knowledge. They can see how processes are implemented and followed and the commitment it takes to make and keep a company successful.
Manning the support lines allow them to develop their social skills when dealing with customers. Also, it will force them into a situation where they will have to examine their soft skills and empathy. They get a real taste for what it’s like to deal with different personalities that make up a customer base. Furthermore, they will get a real feel for what it takes to retain difficult and sometimes impossible customers.
However, when it comes to hiring students, there is a downside that cannot be ignored. The first part of the downside is lack of experience, which can be overcome if the second part is not a stopper. And that is priorities.
University students have a lot on their plates when it comes to studies and the social activities that come with college life. They stay up late studying, have crazy class schedules, and yes there is the partying that does happen. For a working student, discipline becomes the magic word (with a capital D). Yet, even the most dedicated and disciplined working student still has their studies in the forefront of their priorities. Classes and exams will always take the front seat. Papers need to be written. And if the student isn’t hungry enough, it makes no difference to them if they call in “sick” or not. This can leave some obvious gaps in coverage and create a bottleneck of support tickets. Leaving customers angry and disgusted.
Not Every Job Is A Career
Customer support, as with any team in any business, will have individuals who have absolutely no intention of sticking it out for the long haul. But can you recognize them? In many cases, an agent’s behavior or CSATS will tell the story of their level of engagement. Even so, not having career-minded individuals on board is always a gamble.
When you walk into any fast food joint, you can get a good glimpse of non-career-minded people. Many are high school students who, although they may be engaged and good at their tasks, are not there to make a lifetime commitment. It’s a paycheck. That’s why these restaurants have intricate and specific processes in place to handle almost every situation. Nothing is left up to speculation. And that’s also why you may see videos of so much confusion and despair when things do go sideways.
The point is, your customer support is the foundation of your customer’s experience. Not everyone who sits on those seats and answers those calls is there with the success of your business in mind. It’s a way to pay their bills. So it leads one to ponder how heavily invested can they actually be?
Career-Minded People Make The Best Support Leaders
Even though we are all tired of hearing about the pandemic (and I’m tired of writing about it) it has become a pivotal point in business. And customer support is no exception. Chatbots were tried, tested, and for the most part, have failed. People want to speak to a live human, not blindly navigate through a series of time-consuming questions. Only to get to the end and still not have their issue resolved.
Customers are more educated on processes now, and yes, have become a bit more demanding. The post-pandemic universe is showing more emergence of internet usage where things are lightening fast. The internet has obliterated anyone’s reason to be patient. They want answers and they want it right away. They know as well as you do that your competitor is one click away and the cancel payment button is even closer.
Without the right team, without dedicated individuals who have the goal of being in the customer support game long term, then you have a support manager buried under a backlog of tickets from customers that want to speak to someone higher. Customer support is not only essential, it’s now more demanding than ever. Issues need to be resolved as much as possible in first contact or at least stay on the agent’s level. That’s why you need a team of strong, capable front liners who absolutely have your company and customers in the limelight.
But where can you find career-minded support agents?
Here in the Philippines, students understand the importance and the value of customer support positions. In fact, as the BPO industry continues to grow, young people have discovered the customer support career path. So much so, that they actually attend college just to become a customer support agent! This is where leaders are born.
We recently brought in a client that has been running for years with only University students on their support crew. They encountered many of the issues that I stated above. They found that as they grew, these issues started to become more severe. Furthermore, at the same time every year, they would undergo natural attrition as students either returned home for the summer or graduated and went on into their new lives. Many times a sudden mass exodus would occur leaving a huge lapse in support coverage.
Frequently training new agents became commonplace. And time-consuming. This wasted time could be spent on perfecting or upgrading processes, or better yet, introducing more ways to enhance the overall customer experience.
So they turned to us here at TeleworkPH. And what they found is that the agents we supplied for them are serious about customer support. They are professional and experienced and go to great lengths to work on their soft skills, English grammar and accent, cultural familiarity, and so on. In short, these career-minded people will invest in themselves. This investment makes sure the company they are matched with and the customers they serve get the best results.
When customer retention is on your mind, then you shouldn’t have to worry about where your support team’s minds are as well.