Continuous professional development can transform your career trajectory. For a customer support rep, you can become better at your job in ways you never expected by developing the right skills.
We asked our customer support advocates at Kayako about new activities and skills that helped to further their careers. Here are their great insights.
You can build on each of these eight customer service skills substantially, and give yourself an advantage through your resume, job application, and ace any interview.
1. Product testing
Customer support directly relates to helping customers use your software effectively. Some may say that your product should be so easy to use it doesn’t need support, but there will come a time when almost every customer will need some guidance.
Through product testing you can build knowledge of the products your company offers and start to see it from the perspective of your engineers. This will assist you in giving thorough feedback to customers who are asking for new features, or when querying if a feature isn’t working.
Sukhpreet Kaur, Technical Consultant at Kayako, sees product testing as an invaluable link between teams with different skills.
“Product testing helps me to understand the process of the Engineering team in deciding the roadmap. If I hadn’t picked up this project, I wouldn’t be able to bridge the gap between engineers and support staff, which is normal in every organization.
“Every support staff member thinks engineers work at their own convenience, and every engineer thinks support can’t explain things properly to customers. Helping to roadmap the releases means Support can identify and handle minor bugs, and also to communicate the correct issues to customers or engineers.”
Playing an active role in product testing is key to developing your career as a customer support rep. This will give you ownership over the product and make you more effective in supporting your customers.
2. Train customers through webinars
Hosting webinars or public speaking on behalf of your company is a great way to develop your career. Speaking in front of an audience takes confidence and requires a deep knowledge of your subject matter.
To speak about your topic you need to understand your product and company inside out.
“Once you get going, you can feel a big change in your own attitude. The confidence, the voice, the coolness – you get all of them!”
Senior Technical Advocate, Kushal Sharma, has given webinars on Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which are a useful tool for achieving good customer service at Kayako.
“After learning the basics, it became so easy for me to deliver online training to team members. When talking to customers I could show them the value of Kayako. It helps you reach the comfort level needed to make a real connection with your customers.”
Publishing posts on your company’s blog develops your communication skills and knowledge of content marketing. As a customer support rep dealing with customers every day, you are well-placed to know the content that will appeal to them.
“Blog writing has positively affected my work place morale and helped me to fulfill career aspirations. It’s made me more confident in helping our customers, which indirectly boosts my career in support.”
Sandeep Kaur, Customer Support Advocate.
Sukhpreet Kaur expanded her role beyond technical functions.
“I learned how to write in the correct context, depending on my audience. If you’re writing a post for your organization’s blog, you need to include figures and facts, some tools, or comparisons, whatever helps your audience in their work.
“If you’re writing posts for a community such as Support Driven (for support professionals), you need to make sure you include the practical details you implemented, rather than narrating a story.”
Blogging is a chance to lift the curtain of your organization to give current and prospective customers a glimpse into the inner workings of the support team.
4. Coaching, mentoring, and training new staff
Helping newer employees to get up to speed, or to develop themselves professionally, is a great way to learn new skills and insights as a customer support rep.
Explaining how to conduct tasks and perform your role is not easy, but if you can it will help you gain a new perspective on your work.
It will ensure you really understand what you’re doing if you’re tasked with explaining it to someone else. It may even take your work and service to a higher level.
“Coaching and mentoring has helped me scale my career in customer support. In a B2B SaaS company, a big part of your job is educating customers about your products. There is no difference between coaching your colleague and a customer.
“Coaching helped me develop the ability to gauge whether someone understands what I’m saying or not, and how can I make the interaction easier for that person. It’s important to match how you express yourself with their level of knowledge so you can help them better understand a subject.
“It has given me an edge when interacting with some really unhappy or difficult customers. There were several times when I turned them into a happy and loyal user!”
Amaninder Singh, Customer Support Advocate.
5. Creating self-service documentation
Actively creating or managing support documentation for your company can have a big impact on your career as a customer support agent. Documentation is more than just writing, requiring writing skill, technical know-how, and empathy for the customer.
“Working with our Documentation Manager, Kelly, on content creation, had a great impact on my personal growth. I’ve developed my writing skills and market knowledge about self-service content, along with enhancing my professional skills.
“I now understand how the self-service content of an organization is planned, designed, created, and maintained.”
Kushal Sharma, Customer Support Advocate.
Combining technical knowledge with writing skills will be professional gold dust. If you’ve got an interest in writing, this can be a way into the field.
6. Language learning
If you work with a customer base that speaks another language, learning that language shows your commitment to your job. Interactions will become smoother and reduce churn in your company.
If you already have a second language, let your boss know even if you don’t use it in your daily work. You never know when it might come in useful.
Anastasiia Vukina, Customer Support Advocate at Kayako, has assisted customers in Russian whenever needed, and helped in localization projects in the Russian language.
7. Take on support projects
I took on a six-month support chat metrics project. And Sukhpreet has worked on the new Kayako migrations project going perpetual license to cloud.
Sukhpreet handled the migration project for moving old customers to the new Kayako.
“I was involved in starting and covering the process, testing the data migration script, and the documentation.”
“This was a single-handed project where I had to interact with engineering team, and with Sales/Support/Backend team to get things started. It involved preparing the migration documentation completely before starting to tell customers about the project.
“I helped in creating the support process for customers, and then in answering questions from our internal teams. I had the chance to work with our content team, my managers and our engineering team, which were all awesome experiences.”
8. Be the voice of the customer
As a customer support rep, you represent the customer within your organization, which makes you a great fit for voice of the customer projects. You will be involved in the in-depth process of capturing your customers’ expectations, preferences, and aversions.
Sandeep Kaur began her career as a customer support rep and went on to become a customer advocate and a Subject Matter Expert (SME).
“To be able to deliver the job responsibilities of an SME, you need to be able to show your expertise and handle escalated issues.
“Being involved in activities like product feedback-sharing gives me good understanding of our product, and helps me to resolve customer support issues more quickly. When you gain more expertise, it boosts your career.”
Gathering information about the voice of the customer is a vital business function, and will help you start thinking at a more strategic level.
Your turn: Build your own list of advanced skills
There’s so much you can do outside of your normal support role that’s useful and exciting. You’ll broaden your skills and make yourself a great candidate for that next role.
By showing commitment and dedication to your current job, you’ll also boost your standing within your existing company and delight your customers.
So from hosting webinars, to mentoring other members of your team, to writing documentation or blog posts, to product testing, try out some of these ideas. You may also have some of your own!