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As the head of TSIA’s Support Services research practice, I’ve had a noticeable uptick in questions from TSIA member companies related to Support recruiting and hiring. These questions are specifically around motivating staff, helping staff deal with the large amount of change they face in their roles, and how to hire and build a Support team for the next generation of Support.

What Is the Next Generation of Support Going to Look Like?

The next generation of Support staff will need more than just the traditional skills. Whether you are operating a call center or a help desk, your Support organization may be struggling with finding skilled tech Support personnel. However, part of this challenge falls back on the employer, who needs to hire for the right skills needed in a modern Support organization.

While traditional skills, such as troubleshooting, customer service skills, the ability to communicate effectively are essential, Support organizations need to search for a new breed of emerging or navigational skills as well. The new skills also include deep vertical industry expertise with a true focus on customer outcomes and value. Employees that fit this description go above and beyond the status quo, can work well in chaos, and fundamentally understand the need to change and transform.

What Skills to Look for When Hiring Support or Help Desk Staff

Here are examples of the traditional skills and the newer navigational skills to look for in an ideal Support employee.

Traditional Skills
  • Effectively implements plans and processes
  • Able to use traditional tech solutions and accepts what tech and processes are already in place
  • Familiar with a structure of control and compliance
  • Works effectively in escalation/SWAT mode
  • Focuses on traditional metrics
Navigational Skills
  • Brings new and creative thoughts and concepts to the table
  • Thrives in a state of transformative chaos
  • Functions from a place of listening and learning
  • Engaged, excited to experiment
  • Has a heavy focus on strategies to move business forward
  • Seeks to collaborate and share knowledge

Candidates that possess good navigational skills are often willing to adopt new technology, automate tasks, and seek out finding the right balance between tech and people. However, some Support employees that already possess the traditional skills but not necessarily the navigational skills for their role may be anxious or uncertain about change, such as new technology or processes.

The bottom line? It’s imperative to embrace the idea that employees are a key differentiator in your company’s success, which means that they encourage growth and seek to connect with and understand employees.

In addition, they may be satisfied in their role, but satisfaction doesn’t necessarily translate to engagement. It’s important to work with these employees to better understand how they can be upskilled to fulfill their duties more effectively and become more engaged.

The bottom line? It’s imperative to embrace the idea that employees are a key differentiator in your company’s success, which means that they encourage growth and seek to connect with and understand employees.

Tips for Hiring for Your Support Organization

1. Tailor Your Job Description to The Right Candidates

As you hire new employees into Support, I can’t stress the importance of reviewing posted job descriptions highly enough. While the majority of Support job descriptions are sufficient to hire “today’s” Support professionals, Support organizations that are transforming and re-engineering themselves to possess both traditional and navigational skills must require new hires to accommodate the efforts they are making to change.

2. Set the Right Expectations

It’s important for Support leaders to set the tone with new hires that you’re driving a next generation Support center, and the skills that got them where they are today will not necessarily be the ones that move them forward tomorrow. Frankly, not all Support professionals who were traditional break/fix can make these adjustments, so I recommend adding these new skills to your position descriptions now in order to find the appropriately-skilled new talent you seek.

Learn More About How to Engage Support Employees and Transform Your Support Organization

For more about employee engagement and the importance of building a better company culture, I invite you to listen to this on-demand TSIA Virtual Summit, "The ROI of Building a Powerful Employee Culture." You'll hear from industry experts from companies such as Coveo, Ellucian, JDA Software, Klever Insight, and TSIA on best practices for motivating, re-training, and encourage employees.

If you are wrestling with hiring and recruiting challenges and emerging measurements for support personnel, contact TSIA about membership in our Support Services research practice. We have the data-validated best practices and insight to help you transform your Support organization for the better. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Judi Platz

About Author Judith Platz

Judith Platz, is the former vice president of research, Support Services, for TSIA. During her over 25 years of customer support experience, she has been responsible for supervising and coordinating multiple functional, strategic, organizational development and technical work streams, including technical support, account management, business consulting, implementation management, and training.

Judith's favorite topics to discuss