My support philosophy is simple: approach everyone with love. There are no situations in which love is not appropriate, and it is always beneficial to all concerned. There are times when a person does not reflect love back at you, but to me that just means that they need love that much more.
Stop right there, you might be thinking. That’s just a little too “woo” for me. I need a support tech, not some wishy-washy chick who is going to go all New Age and try to “get in touch” with the customers instead of resolving their technical issues!
Bear with me, though. True love is a verb, a choice, not just a feeling. I don’t think anyone would argue that love takes dedication, empathy, communication, integrity, and flexibility. Those are the same qualities that are found in the best support agents, because great support is also a choice, and the very best support techs approach their customers with love.
To be a really great support agent, you need to be dedicated to resolving clients’ problems as effectively as possible. You have to be committed to staying on top of your game technically and otherwise, by staying in touch with company communications, reading industry news, improving your skills, and tending to your self-care so that you are able to keep on giving to customers and co-workers.
Empathy is a key marker of the really special support people. They can hear the question past the question, the real issue at the root of the customer’s decision to contact support. Empathy gives a tech the understanding that sometimes a client is just having a bad day, or that the technical problem is causing so much stress that they don’t know how to cope without taking out their frustrations on somebody. Sometimes the end user just needs to know that they’ve been heard, and sometimes they need some comforting. The great tech is able to handle the customer’s frustrations without taking them personally.
Your best agents will have wonderful communication skills. They will pay attention to what the customer is saying, and meet the customer at their comfort level to answer questions. If the customer talks about “the little pictures on the screen” instead of “icons,” a good agent will call those things “the little pictures on the screen.” If a customer clearly wants a purely technical, no-nonsense answer, the agent won’t fill an email response with emoji. But when responding to a long-time customer who is known to the tech, a good agent will take time to personalize the answer a little more than normal. And when dealing with an uncertain customer, your best people will take time for some reassurance and a little guided learning.
Integrity encompasses honesty, but it’s more than that. It also means to be ethical, decent, and sincere. An honest person will tell a customer the truth in response to a query (“Yes, you can do it that way”) but a decent, ethical one will give the customer the benefit of wisdom as well (“but you probably don’t want to do that, because doing so often leads to corruption. May I suggest that you do it this way instead?”) And sometimes, acting with integrity means saying “no,” even if you try to avoid using that particular word in your support organization (some people do, I know).
A great support tech is flexible. If a customer doesn’t understand the way the tech explained something, the tech doesn’t just repeat themselves, they find another way to express the same concept — or even another, simpler way to accomplish the same task. If it isn’t possible to resolve a customer’s problem one way, the agent finds another way to do it.
So give it a try. Rethink your definition of love, and your approach to support. I promise that you won’t be sorry.
(Originally published at cynthiaarmistead.com)