When I first started at HubSpot, I worked on the customer support team. Coming from an arts school — where the only math class taught you to calculate audience statistics for Seinfeld — I was honestly surprised I was hired for the role. I didn't have a background in tech, nor did I have any real experience with providing phone support.
But as I went through my first weeks of training, I was delighted to find that I wasn't alone. Oddly enough, it seemed more of my colleagues had degrees in English and writing than computer sciences. We weren't a team of extroverted tech enthusiasts, rather a diverse group of professionals who all brought different skills and perspectives to the table.
You might have preconceived notions about customer support from your own service experiences — most likely as a customer. These interactions can sometimes make you think a customer-facing role isn't for you.
But, I'm here to tell you that a customer support job can be a fantastic first step on the path toward a successful career — in almost any business function you might be interested in.
Keep reading this blog post to learn what skills and expertise you can gain from a job in customer support — and how the experience will benefit you for the rest of your career.
Why Work in Customer Service?
Working in customer service can be extremely rewarding. You help people achieve goals and play a direct role in customer success. And, the professional skills you develop in this field can be applied to any career you pursue.
Most people look at customer service as an entry-level role. But, while there are many frontline jobs available in customer support, there are also plenty of opportunities for people who have more experience. Whether you're just getting out of college or taking a new direction in your career, customer service teams offer a variety of unique positions and benefits that can match exactly what you're looking for.
Curious about what those benefits might be? Read on for a list of reasons why you should work in customer service.
10 Reasons to Work in Customer Support
1. Develop Your Emotional Intelligence.
It's a given that you'll develop people skills while working in a customer-facing role. And, although there can be challenges to working on the phones with customers all day, the skills and strategies you'll develop far outweigh those challenges.
You'll be helping customers solve a variety of different problems, which could have a huge impact on their personal or professional life, and your ability to empathize and wield social skill to build rapport with these people to get the information you need to help them will be critical.
In the face of difficult customers or combative language, you'll need to tap into your sense of self-regulation to calmly and effectively de-escalate customers so you can better assist them. And, those tough days when you don't feel like you can make another phone call (we all have them), tapping into your senses of motivation and self-awareness to keep yourself on-track and positive so you can buckle down and get everything done.
(Because simply put, there will always be an aspect of your job you don't love — even if you're a CEO — and digging into these will help you keep moving forward.)
Studies have shown that these people skills are linked more closely with success in the workplace than cognitive intelligence — especially when it comes to management. Starting your career in customer support sets you on the right track for building and growing these skills. (Plus, they're helpful for effective interpersonal relationship communication and collaboration, too.)
2. Learn Your Product or Service, Inside and Out.
To be successful in customer support, you need to understand (almost) every aspect of your product or service so you can quickly answer questions and resolve issues for your customers. But this isn't just a benefit for the people who will get the information they need ASAP — it's a big win for you, too.
Learning about your product or service helps you become a subject matter expert — which can open a ton of different doors for you as you grow in your career (in or outside of customer support).
For example, by practicing teaching your customers how to use your product or service, you'll be able to specialize in training and onboarding new members of your customer support team and take on a leadership role that way. If you prefer writing, you might be able to start writing knowledge base articles or blog posts for your organization to supplement one-off customer support interactions. Or, you could use your creative side to create step-by-step product walkthrough videos to help your customers and build your online presence.
Any avenue you decide to take it, an in-depth product or service knowledge will help you become an expert -- on your team, within your organization, and in your industry.
3. Build Transferable Skills.
Building your subject matter expertise will help you grow within your customer support team -- but you'll also learn valuable skills that you can use to snag a new role if you want to branch out even further.
Working with customers will teach you exactly how customers can use your company's product or service to achieve their goals -- and you can use this knowledge and experience if you decided to move into sales. Social proof is an effective selling tool, and if you can tell prospects on the phone exactly how your product or service has helped other customers, they might be more interested in closing a deal with you.
Product knowledge is incredibly valuable for your marketing team, too. Whether you want to write for the blog, conduct product and market research, or manage social media support channels, in-depth product expertise, and killer communication skills could help you land a role on your marketing team.
Product Development Skills
If you know the product inside and out, you might be able to build it, too. If you develop some chops for product development — whether that consists of software engineering, outreach, or vendor management — you might be able to use your wealth of knowledge to facilitate a transition away from the phones and behind-the-scenes helping build the product you're servicing.
4. Educate Customers Without Selling.
One of my favorite parts of working in customer service was being in a position where I could teach a customer something about the product without having to sell them on the solution.
For example, HubSpot offers a platform of products at various subscriptions and tiers. In some support cases, the best solution available was using a product that the customer didn't own. This left us with two choices: review the advantages of buying the additional product or find a creative workaround.
The first option allowed me to gently flex my sales skills without having the pressure of closing a deal. The furthest I would have to take the case was handing it off to sales rep who would continue the rest of the pitch.
Option two encouraged me to be creative. Between me and the customer, I was the product expert — which means the customer is looking to me to find a solution. Whether it was using a product in a new way or thinking of an out-of-the-box alternative, I always felt like a bit of wizard whenever I found a workaround to a problem I couldn't directly solve.
5. Develop a Side Project.
Here at HubSpot, we make sure our customer support reps spend time away from the phones — deliberately.
This time away from the queue accomplishes a few things. It gives customer support reps time to eat, take breaks, attend meetings, walk their dogs, etc. But more importantly, giving customer support reps time away from the call queue gives them time to spend working on side projects and other initiatives can bring tremendous value to our organization — and to the reps themselves.
For example, one HubSpot customer support rep who specialized in social media decided to start a dedicated social media channel for rapid customer support on Twitter. They took the insights they learned on the phones with customers to conduct research and start an initiative they thought would be impactful -- and they were right.
You'll learn a ton about your company's customers while you're on the phones — so make sure you're tracking those insights and dedicating them to a side project or initiative that could bring a lot of value to your organization — to your benefit.
(Plus, anyone who has a pulse on the voice of the customer has a ton of value to offer their team and other teams — so it's yet another benefit you could bring to the table for a promotion or transfer discussion with your manager.)
6. Learn How to Effectively Solve Problems.
At the heart of it, customer support is about reactively helping your customers and solving their problems. And whether it's a quick fix or a multi-step process, every customer problem on your plate will require creative thinking, people skills, and expertise to solve.
The ability to solve problems quickly, effectively, and diplomatically is critical for any job there is — whether it's in customer support or not. The ability to problem-solve is the building block of being able to prioritize, project manage, and resolve conflicts, and these skills are required if you want to earn promotions, manage a team, and use your influence and expertise to achieve your goals.
7. Master Different Communication Mediums.
Many customer service teams require reps to work on different support channels. This means you'll go from working with customers on the phone one day to emailing them the next. But, as you continue to bounce between the various communication mediums your company offers, you'll eventually master the art of digital conversation.
Here are a few support channels you'll be exposed to:
- Live Chat
- Social Media
- Community Forum
Understanding how to communicate effectively on these platforms will help you establish relationships with people you may not have met in person. This is a very handy skill to have, especially when applying for a new job.
8. Collaborate With a Diverse Team.
Customer support teams aren't always your typical tech-oriented group. Many are full of interesting individuals who have unique personalities and perspectives.
In fact, that was my favorite part about working on the HubSpot Support Team. You always learned something new about somebody whenever you worked with them on a case.
This is helpful for your growing your career as well. Being exposed to an array of different perspectives can help you find solutions to problems that you might not realize exist. It can also change your opinion on an issue after looking at it from an angle that you hadn't considered before. Situations like these where our perspective is challenged not only help us grow as professionals but as people, too.
9. Learn to Work Remotely.
One growing trend in customer service is remote work. In fact, 40% of U.S. companies offered more remote work this year than they did five years ago. As customer service technology continues to enable reps to work from home, more customer service teams are taking advantage of this opportunity.
But, remote work isn't just a nice perk. It's a skill you'll need to develop, regardless of the career you pursue. As the cost of office space continues to rise and more positions go remote, you might soon find your role has become fully-remote as well. And, while this might not change what you do for a living, it will certainly change how you do it.
Getting exposure to remote work in a customer service role is great experience for any career. It challenges you to master your daily workflow without the immediate assistance of your surrounding colleagues. You learn how to independently troubleshoot problems and how to teach yourself solutions when no one is near to help.
10. Build a network within your organization.
When you work in customer support, you might not always know the answer to a customer question. You might have to share customer feedback with important stakeholders. Or you might have insights to share that change how your company's leadership thinks about your ideal buyer persona.
To achieve any of the above, you'll have to pull knowledge from the people around you — your colleagues. If you can build a network of coworkers with different skillsets and expertise from you, not only will you be able to quickly and effectively get your job done, but you'll build a network of new opportunities for growth and professional development, too.
Whether you aspire to a long career in the customer support space, or you're simply eager to get your foot in the door at an innovative company, a job in customer support will teach you valuable skills that you'll need, again and again, over the course of your career.
(And if you're interested in working on the HubSpot customer support team, we're hiring.)
Originally published Jun 11, 2020 9:21:00 AM, updated August 04 2021