As much as we would all like to hire enthusiastic self starters who are experts at what they do, it is not always possible to find, or sometimes afford, such employees. However, with a little preparation from your end, it will be a lot easier to groom a candidate with potential into an expert. Even if your first support hire comes with all the required skills, creating a method to train and familiarize the new hire in your workflow and philosophy, can go a long way in ensuring his/her success at the job.
Here are those few things:
The best way to introduce a product to new hires is by having them set up a test account to try out the various features and apps in your product. Encouraging them to come back with feedback on what they like or don’t like about the product will immediately help them see the product from a customer’s point of view. If they were to be introduced to the product by your team, it is easy to be biased about the product.
Roadmap and Philosophy
When new hires comes back with what they like or don’t like about the product, you have the best chance to explain why things are so and, in doing so, introduce them to the philosophy and the roadmap of the product. How you handle the ugly realities of your own product will determine how they will handle the same situation with the customers. Software products are always evolving; bugs and customer complaints are part and parcel of this reality. The idea is to help the new hire have the right attitude towards the situation and the customer.
FAQs & Troubleshooting methods
In customer support, more than half of the questions that are asked are those that have been asked in the past. Having a document with Frequently Asked Questions and their answers can be a huge help for a new hire. He/She will be able to learn the product faster in the process of going through the FAQs and answering customers.
It will also save a ton of time to document common troubleshooting methods like what to ask for (screenshot, browser information, etc.,) in case of specific complaints and what workarounds to suggest for specific use cases.
At SupportBee, we use the ‘Snippets’ feature for this. If you don’t use a Help desk software, a Google document or Gmail’s ‘Canned responses’ should help.
Admin Console for carrying out basic tasks
Tasks like resetting passwords or updating information in the database need not be passed on to the development team if you have an admin console that makes it easy for a non-tech customer support resource to carry out such tasks.
At SupportBee, we do not have an admin console but we have ready-made scripts that can be run to do some of the frequently requested tasks. This can take the load off of the development team. For example, a couple of our scripts for billing tasks look like this
These scripts can be run even by a non-tech support person to carry out the required tasks.
Integration with project management
Customer support cannot add value to the company by working in isolation. The person fielding customer questions is the one who understands market needs best. You need a process that will channel feedback from customer support into product development. Using a support software that integrates with project management can keep the process very smooth. Also, talking to your new hire about how the various departments interact with each other and how his/her role contributes to product development will encourage them to take responsibility and do their best.
Skills alone don’t guarantee success. Training, documentation and a process for interaction determine the success of your first hire in customer support.