Customer Service often attracts a certain kind of person but perhaps not exactly who you’d think. We’re going to explore just what kind of people really work in customer support.
The Stereotype of a Customer Service Rep
When they think of a customer service rep, most people think of someone extremely perky and extroverted. You must be sociable and enjoy connecting with all sorts of people.
While there are many reps like this, we mustn’t forget that lots of introverts find themselves in customer support roles.
Customer Service Reps are Good Listeners
More than just being helpful or extroverted, the type of people who work in customer support are also great listeners.
Mat Patterson, Customer Evangelist at Helpscout, says “Communication makes a big difference in working relationships, because it improves the outcome, develops trust, and moves things along more quickly.”
You’ll find lots of great listeners working in customer support.
Customer Service Reps are Thick-Skinned
While introverts can flourish in customer service, it really helps if you can develop a thick skin, because this will help you to deal with unhappy customers more effectively.
Brazen published an amusing article on how nice people shouldn’t work in customer support because they’re too sensitive. This is a tongue-in-cheek way of saying customers can be very difficult.
Whatever your temperament, patience and good self-esteem are key when working in customer service.
Customer Service Reps are Autonomous and Self-motivated
Some people may think of customer support as being a reactive job where employees merely respond to the requests of customers, rather than driving change themselves. In the past this may have been true, but the future of customer support is very different.
The industry attracts individuals who are autonomous and self-motivated. As many teams are working remotely, you need to have a high degree of discipline to be successful in this field.
The best customer support agents will also be interested in developing the business’s customer support strategy because they are on the front line of the business, interacting with customers day-in, day-out.
A Teacher at Heart
A lot of working in customer support is teaching customers how to do things themselves. You shouldn’t just solve their problem for them, but empower the customer to solve it next time.
People who like to teach are very suited to customer support roles, as this requires patience, tolerance and curiosity.
Marybeth Alexander from KnowledgeOwl says, “Teaching experience can be very valuable for customer support careers. At the very heart of it, people who want to be teachers generally genuinely want to help people and serve, which is pretty critical to be happy and successful in a support career.”
Many people working in customer service are in the SaaS startups industry. This means they’ll often be working remotely in teams with people who are based all over the world.
Customer service reps often like to travel, or they’re digital nomads who aren’t based in a single location.
That’s the beauty of remote work in SaaS software. There’s no need for the whole team to commute to one office.
All Sorts of People and Skills
Often, it’s not just people from a classical customer service background that can succeed in this field, as there’s an opportunity to apply a wide range of transferable skills.
For example, Marybeth says, “One of the most valuable experiences that transfer well to customer support is food service, whether that is as a server in a restaurant or a delivery driver. You learn to deal with all types of people, keep your cool, and figure out how to give each individual customer the best experience.
“I learned some of the most valuable customer service lessons from working in restaurants as well as teaching. Plus, many of my most successful hires in support came from food service.”
The truth is, all sorts of people work in customer support, but the main standout qualities of reps are being a good listener, having developed a thick skin, the ability to teach, a high degree of discipline and, frequently, a fondness for travel.
Catherine Heath has a thing for psychology, diversity, tech and startups , and is l earning to code. She gives valuable insight into the women in tech scene on her website, Away With Words, and shares tips for success and self-development. Connect with Catherine on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Catherine regularly blogs about knowledge base best practice forKnowledgeOwl.