How to Hire Great Support Techs

May 29, 2015

How to Hire Great Support Techs

By: Chris Brunau

Can you help me?

This is the one of the most critical questions to ask yourself when interviewing candidates for a Support Technician role.   When presented with a tough situation, is this the person that I would like to have on the other end of the line?   Can you see this candidate extinguishing a situation with a thorough, well-articulated response that will help your customer?   Do you trust your company’s success in the hands of this person?

You better.

Support personnel talk to your customers more consistently than anyone else in your company.   Recruiting and hiring the correct people in Support is key to building trust in your company. Gaining trust from your customers is the best way to get more of them.

In the past fifteen years, I have hired over 200 Telecom and IT Support professionals.   Each of them brought a certain something to the interview that spurred our interest at that time.   However, in hindsight, there have also been some common traits among those Support techs that went on to have exceptional success in the role. Recognizing those traits in your hiring efforts will assist in building a Support team that your customers would be proud to lean on in times of need.

So, what are those traits that make people an extraordinary Support tech? To me, it starts and ends with a hunger, a drive or a personal pride to go above and beyond.   Anyone can pick up the phone and dictate notes into a trouble ticket.   I am looking for someone who is going to work “upstream”. They are not only going to answer the call, open the ticket and fix that particular issue.   They are going to scour the customer’s account for any other issues while working with the other internal departments to ensure the problem doesn’t happen again. Excellent Support techs not only fight fires, they go and look for the arson as well.

I also feel that all successful Support techs have a process that keeps them organized.   Working in a Support center can be extremely chaotic most of the time.   It is imperative that your techs stay organized in an effort to stay in control of their day.   If your Support techs are proactively reaching out their customers each day with a well-prepared response, they can maintain control. If your customers have to call into your Support center with questions or concerns, your techs are not as prepared and they lose control.   There should be a well thought out method to how you are keeping your customers up to date, how your tickets are organized and how you will attack resolving them.

A person’s mindset goes a long way into telling me how successful they will be in the role.   Are they willing to work the night shift?   Are they the first to volunteer for Holiday coverage?   Will they volunteer to cover a teammates shift without being asked? Although all of my management roles have been with very technical organizations, I don’t always hire the candidate with the most impressive education or experience.   I have been successful hiring bartenders, car salespeople and folks fresh from the military over people with prestigious technical degrees. If you can display a lack of intimidation, a willingness to learn and thick skin, you can do the job. It has always been my feeling that I can teach you the technical aspects of the job, but not everyone has the right mindset for the job.

I find this to be very similar to how the NFL finds successful quarterbacks.   Many times the quarterback from the elite college, who is drafted very high, doesn’t pan out. However, a guy like Russell Wilson can get largely overlooked, drafted in the third round and win the Super Bowl. Some people just have that chip on their shoulder, that personal initiative, that willingness to do WHATEVER it takes. How we recognize this willingness is the $64,000 question.

This recognition begins with recruiting and interviewing. I believe very much in an experiential interview when hiring Support personnel.   Obviously, you want to hear about the candidate’s work experience and how it applies to the job.   However, I also like to put that experience to work during the interview.   What situations will they potentially face when doing the job?   How will they handle themselves in those situations?   A person’s true colors show in emotional scenarios.   When hiring a Support tech, I want a “flatliner”.   I want someone who doesn’t get too high or too low.   When everyone else’s hair is on fire, the Support tech has to be to calming voice that guides the customer through.

All Support techs are going to have their patience tested. All Support techs need to think on their feet. All Support techs need to accept blame for something they didn’t do. When interviewing candidates, your questions should put them in these situations and your eyes need to keen to their reactions and responses.   This will give you great insight into the candidate at a personal level and how their personality will fit with the rest of the team.   Don’t ever underestimate the power of team chemistry.   One bad hire could set your team back significantly.

All industries are the same. There are competitors with similar products and technologies constantly nipping at your heels. One of the best ways to differentiate yourself from the herd is with your Support.   Fill your team with extremely organized people who show the initiative and the right mindset.   They will continually go above and beyond to support your customers and give your company a trusted voice in the marketplace.

Jason Elston

Manager, Technical Support

Datto - Rochester