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June 26, 2013
3 min
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Five Traits of an Outstanding Product Support Engineer

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Many years in the trenches of support have helped me develop and refine the traits I believe every great product and technical support engineer possesses. Good reading (there's a lot of Covey in our office) and other's thoughts have given me further insight into the "difference makers" of customer success.

While the five elements I’ve put together are often overlooked during the interview process, they can make the difference between tech support that makes you bang your head or breathe a sigh of relief.

Technical skills aside, what does the support team superhero offer that the others do not? Look for these five characteristics, in addition to technical prowess, among the outstanding technical support engineers you already know.

Five Skills of Stand-Out Technical Support Engineers

1. Tenacity - The pain of regret is greater than the pain of failure. You have to keep trying.

While on a 24 day priority one escalation with a major financial institution the customer requested the third weekend off because our team had worked them around the clock trying to fix it. We were offered the time off too but the team pressed on and the fix came on a Sunday while the customer rested.

2. Communication - Telling the story of the issue and resolution is as important as the fix.

While on a customer call a proprietary software defect raised immediate concern. Escalation protocol was kicked off, which executives would be called, the current issue status, etc. No one noticed that the project manager and one lead support person with information from the knowledge base had already agreed on a simple and effective work around. Extra communication would've saved not only time but also headache.

3. Always Learning - Keep your skills up to date.

Today my team learned two new things that are significant issues to our customers. This story plays out every day.

This trait has been highly-visible while at ServiceRocket. Tacit knowledge is more easily learned if people are sharing experiences and exchanging their thoughts, ideas and problems. We utilize our Confluence Wiki as an internal blogging platform where every Rocketeer can contribute knowledge, ask questions and propose ideas.

4. Customer Issue Focus - Are you fixing internal issues or the customer problem?

Often I've seen teams waste time on a broken processes or tools that are not functioning as they should. If your tracking system is down and you are working a P1 issue any work on the tool can hinder the customer's success. Consider the importance of the internal task as it compares to resolving the customer problem.

5. Ownership - Until the case is closed, you own it even if other resources are working it.

One of the largest time wasters is when a support member is merely watching a case and not driving the issue. This can happen when the issue needs to be worked by a third party vendor or even staff outside the support team. Loss of focus can only add to the length of time to get the customer back on track. If you own the issue, meaning it is assigned to you, you should review the status everyday to verify the work is progressing.

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