Customer support is not an easy industry to jump into on your first day. Not only do you have to learn the processes of a new company, but you also have to become an expert on a product or service you’ve just begun to encounter. Your job is to be an expert, and on day one, that’s not where you’re at. To be successful as an agent, you have to get to that place quickly.
But don’t be alarmed. We asked our most seasoned support people here at the Yeomen what their advice would be for someone hopping into a help center for the first time. Whether you’ve worked in support or not, here’s all you need to know to get through your first 60 days with flying colors.
Meet Your Peers
The best customer support teams work with a spirit of collaboration. Sharing knowledge with one another about the product is key to building expertise, and if you want to be successful, you have to be part of that. So get to know the people you work with. Talk to them. Find out how they communicate. Learn who’s a veteran and whose just like you. Be part of the group. Building close relationships with other agents will provide you with a network of internal support that will help set you up for success.
Don’t forget the employees outside of your support team. They are just as essential to success, so get to know them as well. Learn how to communicate with the engineers who are receiving your bug reports, or understand the best way to explain user trends to the marketing folks. Not only will this improve the care you give to customers, but it also solidifies your place as a valuable member of the team.
“Strike up conversations with your team members so that you can build relationships.” – Kristin
Explore the Product You’re Supporting
If your job is to educate people about how to use a product or service, then you better know how it works. And the best way to do that is to use it yourself. That doesn’t mean you just casually check it out; it means you dig your heels as deep as you can into its features. If it’s an app, download it and experiment with every setting. Push the app to the max and document where you experienced difficulty. If a customer comes to you with a problem, try to replicate it. If you’re supporting a SAAS, then create a dummy account and do the same thing. Explore the interface and features. Find out what works and what doesn’t. This first-hand experience will put you in the best position to understand the pain of your community.
Knowing a product also means knowing its history. This will help you understand the journey of customers who have been with the product through various versions. So learn about the past. What was different about 1.0? What major changes have occurred? What struggles have these changes created? If you can speak with authority to long-term users, then you’ll quickly find yourself succeeding in the support realm.
“Find a note taking app that has really good search functionality and work out an organized system for note-taking early. You’ll learn new things on the job everyday.” – Brianna
Know Your Resources
Supporting a new product is always accompanied by a whirlwind of questions. It’s important to ask these questions, but don’t rely solely on your support team for the answers. Great help desks should have an abundance of resources that will guide you through the company and its product. So learn where those resources are and what they have to offer (this includes the company website….know it well!). Not only are you more likely to retain the information, but you’ve also just put yourself in a user’s shoes. And perspective is invaluable to a good agent.
“On the flip side of knowing your resources, know when to ask your peers for help.” – Kelly
Understand The Company
Good agents don’t just know the product they support; they also the company they are a part of. It’s your responsibility to represent the culture and personality of your company to customers. When they speak to you, they should get the sense they are speaking with business as well. Read the mission and vision statements. Know company values. If there’s a style guide, familiarize yourself with it.
Another great place to learn more about a company is within the company blog. The blog will tell you more about what topics are important, how the company approaches its industry, product, customer, etc. It will also give you an overall idea of the company’s tone of voice.
“Taking the time early on to dig deep into customer questions you don’t know the answer to is a worthy investment. While you can’t learn everything, and will inevitably have to ask your peers for help, make sure you’ve checked all of the existing resources available to you first. Finding the answer to your own question is the best way to ensure you remember it down the road.” – David
Get to know your customers
Finally, before you dive into that queue, you should know who you are about to interact with. Who are your users? Are they from a specific industry? Are there multiple segments? What are their most common questions/frustrations? What are their motivations? How do they communicate?
Check with both the support team and the marketing team for customer profiles, use cases, and/or personas so that you get a sense of who you’re speaking to. There’s a huge difference between communicating with boomers who are not tech savvy vs. millennials who are. Or, communicating with lawyers vs. communicating with contractors. Knowing your audience is just as important for marketers as it is for customer support.
“If there is a style guide, get to know it well. Presenting a consistent voice in support is very important.” – Ashley
You’re going to be busy your first 60 days but if you get to know all of these things, your learning curve is going to be a lot smaller and you will have a better understanding of your customers and your company. You’ll be well prepared to effectively manage customer support!
Also published on Medium.