How Technical Support Staff Are Technology Translators

Illustration of a desktop support analyst with a headset.

If technical support staff are amazed at the speed of today’s technological change (and they are), just imagine how end users feel!

A support center manager recently quoted a customer reacting to a major application update: “Yesterday, I knew how to do my job; today I do not.”

Although it is always good to have easily accessible, up-to-date information available to customers, even the best user-facing knowledge base in the world can’t show empathy. This is where technical support professionals—both in the service desk and in desktop support—can really shine and bring exceptional value to their companies.

"Today, the value in desktop support is the intimate knowledge of how technology is used at the ground level. Desktop support staff are uniquely valuable in their roles because they’re in touch with the clients on a daily basis, giving them a unique technical perspective and the ability to act as client translators," according to the HDI Desktop Support Advisory Board.

Find out why the future looks bright for technical support professionals.

Must-have skills for today's technical support staff

Even given the widespread use of information technology in people’s personal lives, the ability for support staff to understand and explain new and changing technology is more important than ever. When technical support staff can clearly communicate about the technology, the wins happen: Business users become more effective and efficient users of technology through their interactions with technical support.

Technical support staff should be able to:

  • Understand the emotional component of a support call, chat, email or text
  • Understand the technical component of the contact
  • Communicate empathy
  • Quickly find and apply a solution that works for the customer or end user

Although customers rarely need or want to know the technical details of a resolution, they often do want to know what happened—in terms they can understand and relate to—especially if it can help them not to repeat an error. End users often respond to any error or change by thinking that they did something wrong, and the support staff can help them understand that they didn’t. And, even if they did make a mistake, customer service skills can help staff explain what went wrong without blaming.

Depending on how your company or institution is organized, support staff may also have the option of either delivering some training to the end user directly or recommending that they take advantage of internal training offered by the company about the specific technologies they use.

Make no mistake: Technical support people should understand the technology they work with thoroughly. In fact, they should understand it well enough to be able to use analogies and examples to make it clear to almost anyone. But they also need to be connected to the human side of the business, helping users through what can be some difficult situations and keeping them productive.

Roy Atkinson is HDI's senior writer/analyst, acting as in-house subject matter expert and chief writer for blogs, articles and white papers and is a member of the HDI International Certification Standards Committee. Roy is a popular speaker at HDI conferences and local chapters. He has a background in service desk and desktop support, as well as small-business consulting. He studied Advanced Management Strategy at Tulane University’s Freeman Graduate School of Business, and holds HDI certifications as a Support Center Manager (HDI-SCM) and Knowledge-Centered Support Foundation (KCSF). Roy is on Twitter @HDI_Analyst and @RoyAtkinson. 

More Technical Support Staff Resources: