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How to be a successful Support Executive

Posted on: 10 February '09
Ram C Mohan
Ram C Mohan
Executive Vice President and Global Head - Infrastructure Management Services

Support role is not for everyone. One needs to have certain traits to be a successful support executive. If you don’t enjoy providing support to an irate customer or if you can’t handle the stress of solving the problem with the whole organization breathing down your neck, probably support is not your cup of tea. The key requirement of the customer service personnel is the support attitude which is etched in his/her DNA. The passion to support the customer and the joy you take in solving a problem are the main traits of a successful support executive.

Here are some of the tips to be a successful support executive.

1. Know your customer
It is extremely important to know who your customer is. Your customer could be a systems administrator or a secretary or an end user of the product. The customer may be from different geography than yours. He/she may be a novice or a pro. You need to take time to understand who your customer is and why he/she has called you. Once you know who it is, you can switch to the frequency of your customer and when you do so, you will be more effective in your services.

2. Be courteous and polite
A customer calling for support is normally not a happy person at that moment. She wants her problem to be resolved quickly and once for all. You have to know that you are paid to solve her problem. Courtesy and politeness is taken for granted by customer, rightfully so. You have to understand that she is agitated with the problem or the product and not with you. It is very important to be courteous and polite to all customers, irrespective of their behavior.

3. Understand the problem
Listen, make notes, and ask questions until you have completely understood the problem. Listening is the key. Do not jump to conclusions before you have exactly understood the problem. Many of us have a tendency to jump to problem solving before understanding the actual problem. Have you seen a doctor making note of the patient’s history? Have you seen how thorough they are? They want to treat the disease and not the symptom.

4. Comprehend the problem
This is the most important of all. You have to know the implications of the problem; implication not from your perspective but from your customer’s perspective. It is one thing to say a server is down and it is totally different to say the customer lost a sale amounting to $ 500 K because of the downtime. It is extremely important to understand how the problem affects customer’s business or productivity and act based on the implication.

5. Analyze the problem
Careful analysis of the problem will result in quicker and effective problem solving. Take time to analyze the problem. Work out multiple scenarios both from problem and solution perspective. Discuss with your colleagues. Search the knowledge base. Work with the team. Take help.

6. Provide accurate solution
The last thing the customer wants is an inaccurate solution. Verify the solution before giving it to the customer. Make sure that the solution does not lead to other issues. If possible, simulate the problem and implement the solution before you present it to the customer. Do a regression test, if possible. If you are not able to test it thoroughly, convey the same to the customer and have a fall-back process in place.

7. Follow up – Follow through
Constant communication with the customer until the issue is completely resolved will help improve the user’s experience. This demonstrates that you are truly concerned. You need to have confirmation that the solution you provided worked to the satisfaction of your customer. If the problem is escalated to a higher level, follow up with all concerned until the problem is resolved.

8. Document
This is where most of us fail. Document the problem, scenario, solution and the test result and ensure that it gets into a knowledge repository. The next time this problem occurs, anyone should be able to resolve the same. You will be respected for this by your colleagues and the customers.

9. Train others
Top class support executives strongly believe in training others. The down stream knowledge sharing will help others to solve the problem quickly and efficiently. True heroism is in training others and not keeping the knowledge within.

10. Enjoy supporting your customers
This demonstrates that you are truly a Support Person. What counts is the mood of the service person when she winds up the day and not when she starts the day. A successful customer support executive always goes home happy because he/she feels jubilated for having solved critical issues of his/her customer.

I am sure that there are many more. Let us know some other traits which you feel are important for the support executives.

Ram Mohan is currently working as EVP and Global Head of Infrastructure Management Services at Mindtree Ltd. In this role he manages business and delivery of this business across the globe. As a founding member of three successful start-ups in Infrastructure Management and Technical Support Services, Ram is a distinguished speaker in many Infrastructure and Support forums and seminars. He has also taught MBA (IT) students of Symbiosis International University. Ram Mohan has 27 years of experience in Infrastructure Management and Technical Support. He has been in senior management positions for the last 15 years. Prior to Mindtree, he was EVP (operations) of e4e. He was the founder and COO of Vinciti Networks, specialized service provider in Infrastructure Management and Technical Support. Ram also worked in Support division of Wipro for 11 years in various capacities from customer support to business development. He helped formation of Wipro's Global Support division in 1997, which is now Global Infrastructure Services division. Ram also worked as a Systems Manager in MPACT Immedia, Michigan, USA from 1993 to 1997, thus acquiring the multifaceted experience in Infrastructure Management, from operations to business development. He also has experience of working both in service organization and product companies. Ram holds Bachelor of Electronics Engineering degree with distinction from Bangalore University.

  • Hi Ram,
    A thorough writeup. But miss reading the types you put up on Petals 🙂
    Am not with MindTree anymore. Doing my higher studies.
    (And just so that you place me, remember the guy who wrote a post called ‘Moments’ that you twisted with glee?)

  • Hi Ram
    Nice comprehensive list. Reminds me of Mahatma Gandhi’s quote: A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us, we are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work – he is the purpose of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to server him.

    True, today we may not meet our customer face to face, but what Mahatma Gandhi said years ago, holds true even today. A repeat customer is a satisfied customer and it is client support service that plays a very important role in ensuring this.
    Best regards,

  • Ram Mohan

    Dear Lubna:

    It is amazing that you mentioned Mahatma Gandhi.

    He was a visionary to make such statement when consumerism had not even heard of in India. Customer Satisfaction was not in the forefront then. But he saw it then. That was his greatness

  • ANUP

    Hi Ram
    Its amazing story,you have also givenme good ideas. but i think something has been missing from that.but most probably it is good idea & also a creative dont mind in my comment.