Hero or zero? The four types of tech support workers
Since the dawn of mankind, people have a tendency to split into groups. Sport teams, professions, nations, Facebook groups – these are all just the consequences of this little habit of ours, created with the intention of achieving a common goal. Just like the human race, organizations too tend to divide themselves; usually for the sake of functionality and efficiency; but sometimes based on pure sympathies or stereotypes. This time we picked one particular intersection of these two, and made a whole blog post about it.
Every tech company today inevitably has a technical support group, be it one girl, or hundred and one men. While working at their desks, most of them have some things in common– which gives us the opportunity to sort them into 4 arbitrary categories, describe them and give advice on how to improve their potential. You’re welcome.
- The Relationship Builders
These are the type of people that can do virtually any human contact-related job – they are just too good with people. Whether they are dealing with a current bug or an edgy customer, they are blessed with patience, calming presence, incredible persuasion skills, fluency in “positive language” and often even acting skills. Nobody knows for sure how technically knowledgeable they really are, but it doesn’t matter – they patch it up anyway.
Managing tip: Keep them. Just let them do their magic, give them autonomy and occasional incentives and never let them go. Ever.
- The Script readers
If you’ve ever called your cable company for help then you’re probably already familiar with this type of tech support representative. They answer the phone with a generic greeting and as soon as the problem is stated, they start parroting standard, scripted questions at you in a flat, dispassionate tone. Now this does the work for simple problems and textbook examples, but as soon as the situation differs from their script experience (and it often does), they start spinning in circles, repeating the same questions and procedures, not solving the problems that they are supposed to.
Managing tip: Luckily, they are manageable. Most of the people found in this group aren’t bad employees, they usually simply lack practical knowledge. A couple days or weeks of training and a bit of help from a more experienced colleague should help significantly.
- The Lazy Delegators
These guys are the reason that some companies require their tech support people to read from scripts. The Lazy Delegators have no scripts, they have complete freedom to solve a customer’s problem and yet they don’t feel like it; or worse – they don’t know how. Everything about them is slow. The tone of their voice is dull and disinterested, their words dribble out reluctantly and they offer only shallow platitudes in response to customers’ increasingly frustrated prods. Eventually most of the situations finish with either an angry user/customer or the job being done by somebody else.
Managing tip: It is not a shame not to know something. However, not wanting to learn, let alone not bothering to labor in certain situations, is a serious problem. If you find some of your employees on this track, we strongly recommend taking a firm stand towards them. After all, a support team is the face and mouth of your company, so you certainly want them to be as good as possible.
- The Just Doers
Also known as Silent Wizards, Problem Solvers and Final Saviors. These guys know everything, yet their tone is casual or even slightly disinterested. They understand the problem better than anyone else, in fact, you get the distinct impression that they started investigating the problem before it’s even explained. Full knowledge of the product, willingness to learn and problem solving orientation – this is why they’re the absolute must-have in every company.
Managing tip: Sure, everyone wants this type of employee around themselves. Still, make sure they have all the right conditions – these people don’t talk too much and it might easily happen that they are over-worked, so give them space, time, appropriate financial incentives and most of all, appreciation.
As mentioned above, these four are merely the arbitrary categories we proposed based on our modest experience. However, it is common and quite recommended for managers to “classify” their employees in self-specified internal categories. Understanding the similarities and differences between people will help you to better comprehend the complexity of their needs and possibilities; which is, essentially, the basis for successfully managing them.