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You may have heard the saying “You hire people for their technical skills and fire them for their soft skills.” There are a number of variations of this quote, but all revolve around the issue of hard vs. soft skills. It’s fairly safe to say that meeting the expectations of today’s customer, whether B2B or B2C, requires robust hard and soft skills.

Developing a Well-Rounded Team

Gone are the days of being able to rely solely on one’s technical skills to get by. Those who are well-rounded and can balance their technical expertise with the ability to communicate, adapt and collaborate are those who are most likely to stay employed and be promoted. Beyond the personal reasons to hone both soft and hard skills, it is also in a company’s best interest to ensure technical and field employees are well-rounded. Companies that can address a customer’s needs through tech or field support are finding their service departments playing a significant role in increased company profits.

Many organizations have realized the benefits of hiring well-rounded candidates. An NPR program highlighted the number of IT companies recruiting not just the usual suspects with a computer science degree, but looking to candidates coming from a liberal arts background. Why? It’s no secret that employees who have critical thinking skills, good reasoning skills, the ability to clearly communicate verbally and through writing, are more contributive over the long run.

In a collaborative poll of HR managers conducted by OfficeTeam, HR.com and the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), it was found that 67% would favor an applicant with strong soft skills but weak technical skills while only 9% would favor an applicant with strong technical but weak soft skills. A whopping 93% of the HR managers polled stated that teaching technical skills was easier than teaching soft skills.

Field Service Can Be Customer Service

For companies that rely on field service technicians or technical agents to diagnose, install, repair or troubleshoot the company’s product, there is often no getting around interacting directly with the end user. Some of these encounters might happen over the phone and some might be face-to-face. The ability to communicate, empathize, educate and suggestively sell are skills that are no longer an option, but a necessity. Most tech training has evolved beyond just focusing on service and repair, and now encompasses customer service and sales training.

A well-rounded training program is important because today’s customers are savvier and more demanding. It’s becoming less common to go into the field and diagnose and repair without interacting with the end user. Customers are asking more detailed questions and want answers on the spot. With adequate training field technicians are in the perfect position to provide assurance, build trust with the customer, and suggestively sell.

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Jodi Beuder

About Author Jodi Beuder

Jodi is a Marketing and Customer Experience fanatic. Some might say "guru", but she prefers it the other way around, as there’s always something to learn and grow as it relates to Marketing and the Customer Experience, and how each is connected to one another. In the past three years, Jodi has dedicated her career to thought leadership in both realms through her work at MHI Global, and has earned honors as Top 100 Customer Success Influencer from Mindtouch, Top 15 Most Influential Customer Service Experts To Follow on Twitter from GetApp, and Top 50 Contact Center Thought Leader on Twitter from ICMI. MHI Global is a TSIA Program Alliance Partner.

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