We've all purchased a new product or software service and been hopelessly confused by some glitch. Immediately, we pick up the phone, open up our email, or pull up a live chat box.
As much as we'd love to be able to fix every problem on our own, that's not always possible. This is why we have customer support engineers. They are the people on the other end who walk us through our technical problems and offer us invaluable assistance to get us back up and running.
If you think you have what it takes to be a customer support engineer, read on.
Goals of a Customer Support Engineer
As with any customer support rep, the primary goal of a customer support engineer is to elicit the full satisfaction and success of customers, as laid out in this HubSpot Support Engineer job description. They should always strive to exceed expectations of customers by providing empathetic, patient, yet efficient support via a single channel and person.
However, support engineers, specifically, have a goal of ensuring every customer understands the technicalities of their new product or software service. Leaving any technical support session, a customer should feel confident in mastering their new product or service and equipped with the tools they need to be successful.
To fully understand the role of a customer support engineer, we have created the following list of their responsibilities.
Customer Support Engineer Job Description
1. Diagnose and troubleshoot customer technical problems
The primary responsibility of a customer support engineer is to solve any technical issues a customer is having while using their new product or service. These issues are often related to software or hardware, so it's essential that customer support engineers have a solid grasp of computer systems.
Often, customers may not know exactly where the issue lies. So, customer support engineers need to ask simple, targeted questions to efficiently understand the problem and get started with support.
Customers may come forward with a range of problems, from very simple to complex. It's essential that customer support engineers always remain calm and patient and recognize that everyone has a different technical background. The important thing is to carefully talk customers through their problems to help them find a solution as quickly as possible.
2. Resolve internal technical issues in software.
Sometimes, a customer isn't alone in the issues they are having. If a customer support engineer is getting lots of inquiries about the same problem, chances are it's an internal issue.
It is then the responsibility of the customer support engineer to let the appropriate teams know about unresolved internal issues and relay any necessary information learned from the customer interaction.
A pro tip is to let customers know about the internal issue, apologize, and offer an updated version when available. After all, everyone makes mistakes -- even companies. Keeping customers in the loops shows off how transparent and honest your company is.
3. Participate in training customers.
While training customers might more comfortably fall under the responsibilities of a customer success team, customer support engineers might also be called on to assist.
Specifically in SaaS companies, customers require a full training on how to be successful in using their new software. This training can often span several months. Customer success teams may call on customer support engineer to assist in the more technical aspects of training, as well as in answering some customer questions.
Customer support engineers might even be tasked with educating customer success teams on the software so that they can then relay the proper training to their customers.
4. Handle customer complaints.
Just as with any customer support team, customer support engineers are going to sometimes receive complaints from angry customers. Calling a manager for help should only occur when a customer issue is long-lasting and beyond the control of the frontline worker.
Diffusing an angry customer is tough, but necessary in this field. A customer might be frustrated when trying to understand how to navigate their new software, exasperated when you can't immediately solve their problem, or generally upset about the customer support process.
It's important that customer support engineers continue to do whatever they can to solve the customer's problem. As said above, their primary goal is still to provide a satisfactory experience for customers. However, if a customer complaint gets out-of-hand, it's acceptable to turn it over to a manager.
5. Prepare reports on customer issues.
At the end of every customer interaction, customer support engineers need to document the entire conversation. This is important for a number of reasons.
First, this ensures that every customer is logged, so, if they have to contact the company again about another issue, the frontline worker can remember what their last problem was.
Second, if the problem ends up being an internal problem, it's important to have a record of how many customers faced the issue and who requires an updated version.
Third, when customer support engineers document their conversations with customers, they can then follow up with customers in the future to ensure that their systems are properly functioning.
If you're still interested in pursuing this career, consider the following steps on how to win the job.
How to Become a Customer Support Engineer
1. Ask to learn more about your company's software products
Show your interest in being a customer support engineer by learning as much as you can about your company's products. Do your own research online about why and how customers are using it.
Ask the appropriate teams to educate you on it when they have free time. Schedule coffee dates with members of the software development, engineering, and technical support teams to learn about their specific roles and their take on your company's products.
Going out of your way to learn more about different teams will prove your dedication to the new position and to maximizing your knowledge on your company.
2. Get trained in computer systems and software products
If possible, learn about courses you can take to learn more about computer systems. Your company might offer this -- HubSpot offers HubSpot Academy courses and certifications to both customers and employees to learn about marketing, sales, and tools -- or you can research other online or in-person courses that fit your schedule.
It can also be helpful to check out free tools online, such as this YouTube video, that give you a basic understanding of these systems. This is important if you want to have a solid foundation before diving into a formal course.
Being equipped with the proper training and certifications not only shows your expertise in the field but also your persistence in being the best customer support engineer you can be.
3. Develop relationships with the customer support engineering team.
If you want to become a customer support engineer, you should make sure the other customer support engineers know who you are.
While it's a good idea to meet with the members of this team to learn more about the position, also take the time to learn about them as people. Form bonds with the team and show that you can be an equal member of the team, too.
In addition, to get your feet wet on the team, ask if there are any projects you can help with. By taking the initiative to get involved with the team, you will prove to the team leads on that team that you are ready to handle the duties of the position.
4. Prove your excellent communication and people skills
An important part of being a customer support engineer is the customer support side. That being said, it's essential that you have the skills to be an effective customer support representative.
To succeed in the field, you need outstanding communication skills. You also need to constantly practice empathy and active listening with customers. (Consider these other essential customer support skills.)
Embody these skills on a daily basis and show that you are someone who is ready to handle the highs and lows of being in a career support position.
5. Let your manager know about your interest in the position
Of course, it doesn't matter what preparations you take if you don't talk to your manager about your interest in the new position. Make your intentions clear and express your interest in tackling some responsibilities in the customer support engineering team.
You should never let your interest in a new role inhibit your performance in your current role. Instead, ensure you're always getting all your current tasks completed before taking on more tasks from a different team. The customer support engineering team will recognize and appreciate your efforts and be sure to consider you when a position opens up.
Now that you understand the ins and outs of being a customer support engineer, you can begin setting your path to success.
For more information on jobs in the customer industry, check out this post on what a customer service manager does.