5 Tips to Land a Customer Support Job
why landing a job in customer support is the best way to get started in tech
Meet Kenji! Kenji is the Head of Customer Support at hot tech company Front and we were thrilled to sit down with him to talk about how to get started in Support and some of the skills he looks for when he’s hiring for his team. Kenji has navigated the in's and out's of Customer Support teams for nearly 10 years and the teams he’s built from the ground up have won awards for their out-of-this-world level of customer care. Customers are every company's #1 priority, and for that reason and more, Kenji advocates that Customer Support is the best way to get started in a technology company.
tip #1: you don’t have to have a lot of work experience to get started in customer support
Ox: How did you get started in customer support?
Kenji: I have to go really far back to explain how I actually got into customer support. I wanted to move back to Japan so I decided I would take whatever job came up. A small startup found me and I got hired with no experience when they were just a handful of people. What I quickly learned was that I could do the job, I liked it and I was good at it. So one tip is if you are joining a really small company, sometimes you don’t have to have a lot of experience, just a willingness to learn and the right attitude.
tip #2: approach your job with a team mindset
Ox: You’ve found very quickly that there's a better way and a not so good way to do customer support. What’s the better way?
Kenji: What’s worked for me is treating my team like teammates. I mean genuinely caring about your team. And I think other approaches, like being completely focused on crushing tickets, looks at people differently. You really have to invest in, you know, each and every person that comes onto your team, especially smaller support teams. And everyone has to invest in each other. When you have happy employees who love what they're doing, they're passionate and that translates directly to customers.
tip #3: use empathy as a job skill to land a customer support job
Ox: What role does empathy play in customer support?
Kenji: Being empathetic is really important. Sometimes you’re going to get on the phone with a customer and their business is being affected by your product. You’re talking to someone that’s not having a good day and they're upset, and they might be short with you and you need to still show empathy.
tip #4: put yourself in your customer’s shoes
Ox: How should job candidates and new hires think about getting in their customer’s frame of mind?
Kenji: One thing I'll never forget is when I was working at my first company, the way we built empathy was by actually working in the restaurants that were using our point of sale software. One time I had to work in this food truck in a tiny space and I got to experience, fortunately and unfortunately, what it felt like to have a hundred customers waiting on the street in a busy intersection and trying to make my software work. And in that moment I one hundred percent understood the customer experience and I kept doing that kind of training with every employee. It makes you see everything through your customer’s eyes.
I use that strategy in my job now too. I lead Customer Support for a company called Front. The really cool thing about building empathy is being able to use our own product for support. So you kind of get this built in empathy because we use Front to support our customers and by doing that we know what's working and what’s not working. And to make sure everyone has this experience, every new hire at Front, whether you're the CEO or the head of sales or you’re a recruiter, gets two weeks of product and support training. And the reason we do that even though its a huge investment of time is because everyone on the team now is going to know the product inside and out.
tip #5: don’t feel intimidated by the job posting
Ox: What do you look for in hiring for customer support?
Kenji: First, all experience is relevant. If you're a server at a coffee shop, that's relevant experience. So think of it that way and don't feel intimidated by the job posting. When we create these job posts, myself included, we list out this crazy number of traits and experiences we’d like to see and people think there's no way I'm ever going to be able to measure up to that. But that’s just for the job description and we know everyone’s not going to have all of those things. When it comes down to it, when we start talking to a candidate in person, the questions that I ask are more about their personality. I can teach the product. I’m looking for someone who is passionate about helping people and I’m looking for some experience they’ve had that can be really helpful in support.
My best example is a woman on my team right now who used to be a teacher in prisons. And you wouldn't think that that's a natural fit for customer support right away. But if you think about it, she could probably deal with stressful situations really well. And she’s also great at creating content from her teaching background. So I knew with her that I could teach the product and everything else would come naturally.
ox guides can help you break into customer support jobs
Want to hear more of Kenji’s story and the skills that he looks for when hiring people in Customer Support? Check out the video for the complete interview! Looking to get into Customer Support? Ox guides can help. To get an Ox guide, start a chat from ox.work. We’ll ask you to share a little bit about yourself, like the type of job you have now and the type of job you’re looking for in the future, so that we can connect you with an Ox guide that's right for you.