Aug 25th 2022

Start Up Your Career: Customer Support Career Path

The path to a Customer Support Career

Did you know that 70% of the customer’s journey is dictated by how the customer feels they are being treated? When you think about it like that you realise just how important the Customer Support team is for a business’s success. It’s not a role a lot of people know much about other than just answering a string of questions from people on the other end of the phone. But it’s a lot more than that. It’s about giving the customer the best experience possible so that they leave thinking only positively about the company and brand. 

That’s why, as part of our Start Up Your Career: Discover Your Path series, we decided to chat with those that know best at Thirdfort to really deep dive into the world of Customer Support and what you can expect from a customer support career. We were joined by Kim Middleton, Head of Support, and Zoey Begley, Customer Support Executive so they could share their first-hand insights. 

For those of you who missed it, or want to rejig your memory on what was said as they deep-dived into the role, then you can watch it on-demand below. 

For those of you who just want the highlights, then read on below as we touch on the key points shared by them both. 

Have a passion for helping people 

For Zoey, she has always enjoyed working and helping people. She finds it such a rewarding experience as “the effect good service has on people can make such a difference to the individual as well as a reflection on the company.” 

Kim echoes this by saying, “you need to genuinely want to help people and work with people, if you don’t have that then it’s going to be difficult. If you have this desire then you will easily succeed.” Zoey backs this up as she says that “if you have a passion for helping and working with people then other skills will come naturally as you can grow into the role.”

Kim goes on to explain how the role can be tough and therefore this can help you to deal with any angry customers as it makes you more empathetic. “By trying to understand their problem and coming across genuinely caring by putting yourself in their shoes, it can often calm them down.” Both Zoey and Kim emphasise how having this passion and calm attitude can flip a situation around and end with a happy customer. It’s not all about throwing freebies at them, but more about offering great service as this will make the customer feel heard and valued. It also means you can feed back on ways to improve the company as you’ve really listened to what the customer needs. 

Kim says, “we always try to say something memorable at the end of the call that demonstrates we have really been listening. Then as well as this we will text the customer after so they know the issue is being dealt with and in what timeline. It’s always good to be honest.”

No two days are the same in customer support

For Zoey, she believes a role in Customer Support is a great place to start your career as it’s mentally stimulating because there is always new knowledge to discover every day. Kim reiterates that as she states how “it can be really unpredictable, with no two days being the same.” 

Kim says, “it’s definitely a lot more challenging than I anticipated, with it being very fast-paced. You have to learn to be adaptable as no situation is the same, so you have to change tactics each time.” 

There is a high volume of queries that get thrown your way, with strong knowledge across a range of products and services needed in order to troubleshoot these queries. Therefore you are always kept on your toes. 

Zoey says, “you have a main structure to solve issues, but sometimes you need to be able to think outside the box in order to get the result for your customers that they want, especially when wild cards are thrown at you.”

You will learn invaluable skills 

Kim says that “there are a great number of skills that you learn in a customer support role which are invaluable for the rest of your life, whether you work your way up in Customer Support or decide to explore other avenues.” 

She goes on to say how she is a lot more confident since starting in the role as it gives you that boost you need from having to communicate with customers every day. “We’ve had people do really well in the team but also go on to specialise in different areas or even transition to other parts of the company – the skills you learn mean it’s a great place to start as it opens doors to a range of pathways.” 

Zoey finds that she has learnt a great deal of patience as a skill. “There are a lot of different programs and software, so I had to be more patient with myself and pick up new information.” She finds that having this patience helps you to stay calm in a stressful environment in order to resolve the issue and give the customer the result they want.

One of the most invaluable skills you learn is communication, which also ties into interpersonal skills. This includes being a good active listener, as you cannot communicate a solution without understanding it first. 

Zoey says, “communication is key as you get complicated issues where some people aren’t as tech-savvy and so can get flustered with it as an alien concept. This means you need to be able to communicate the solution clearly.” 

She goes on to highlight how you will learn to communicate the right solution by going that extra mile and using creativity as a skill to think on your feet. 

They all link into each other and the combination of the range of soft skills you will learn will put you in even greater stead. 

Have a thirst to learn and develop your customer support skills

There is a range of skills that you need in order to succeed in a Customer Support role. Some of which Kim highlights are adaptability and problem-solving. She says, “things will change quickly, whether bringing in new tooling or products so you need to have the drive to be flexible to the changing environment.” And with problem-solving, you need to be able to ask the right questions to get the answers you need to help you understand the problem. This goes hand in hand with both listening and empathy. 

“When I find someone who is hungry to learn, grow and take on feedback that is a really great bonus. The team members that have done really well have that thirst for knowledge.” 

It’s not just soft skills that you need to have a desire to learn, but also learning about the industry and technical skills, such as learning new systems and processes. Kim points out that there are so many platforms and books that with this hunger you can learn as you go along. Kim emphasises that you will work towards different metric targets and so this competitiveness to be better will help propel you forward. 

Zoey backs this up by saying how when she first joined Thirdfort she made an effort to look into the property market, diving into new aspects and making sure she was up to date with recent trends. 

You can stand out without experience 

When it comes to your applications for a customer support role, Kim says not to worry if you don’t have any direct experience yet as there are other ways in which you can stand out. 

“One of the things I look for is examples of times when a candidate has demonstrated a particular skillset as it’s easy to just pop them on your CV without any evidence to back it up.” 

So make sure to think of really good examples, whether it’s from a previous Customer Support role, a different role or even from when you were back at school such as volunteering. Zoey goes on to say how when she started out she didn’t have much direct experience, but she thought about her past experiences and how they would apply to the role, such as communication. 

“A good way to showcase is by storytelling in an interview to explain the situation, showing the skills you have and how you can use them.” 

Kim goes on to discuss how another way is to research the company and its values, then to think about you can apply yourself to those values. “Don’t worry too much about the experience, I am looking more for the right personality. When I see someone with loads of enthusiasm, and energy, and having done their homework that really stands out for me. I can always teach them skills on the job.” 

Zoey says the same – “do a lot of research into the company, into their mission, values and what they are looking for so when you go for an interview you know what you’re talking about. This will not only get noticed by the employer but give you more confidence.” 

Teamwork can make a dream work

When both of them were asked what their highlight is, they both said it’s the work they do together as a team. 

Zoey says, “for me, it’s having a really driven and passionate team as this has helped me to settle into the role quickly with different tips and tricks from people.” 

She highlights how learning through osmosis from other people has helped her to digest all the information and made her more confident in the information she was delivering. “Everyone is so motivated and happy to support their colleagues which just makes it such a nice environment, helping me to excel more.” 

Kim, as someone who leads the team, says the same from the perspective of a leader. She says, “I feel really proud of what we are achieving as a team. We have recently managed to achieve a Customer Support score of 97, surpassing our target of 90.” She states how it’s this passion of putting the customer first that the team has which makes such a difference when dealing with issues, as well as their role across the business, such as putting forward products to put on the road map. 

“I love being a part of the hiring and the training, but also being able to achieve such a high level of service as a team is such a great thing.” 

If you’re looking to power up your potential then check out our Tempo Career Path below which provides you with all the tools you need to start your journey towards a Customer Support Career.