Skip to main content

Article 4 min read

Using more than technical skills to solve technical issues

By Kelly Tan

Last updated March 9, 2018

When it comes to customer support, there is a wide range of issues a team could be presented with on any given day.

Sometimes customers have simple questions that are easy to answer. Sometimes, though, customers present real puzzles—ones that take an investment in time and brain power to solve.

For David Lowe, who, until recently, sat on the Zendesk Advocacy Tier 3 team in Melbourne and now works as a premier support engineer, it’s these kinds of tickets that keep support interesting. When these head-scratchers land in Tier 3, advocates dedicate as much time as is needed to get an issue fixed for a customer.

With software like Zendesk Support, which David describes as “an easy product with a lot going on under the hood,” there can be a great deal of customisation for customers with sophisticated support organisations and complex needs. Customers take advantage of features, integrations, and add-ons that generate tickets that “take time for myself and the customer to work together.”

The unique needs of each organisation mean novel issues are coming their way all the time.

“Every customer uses Zendesk differently, especially enterprise customers,” he said. “They’re doing new and different things that you don’t see with other customers, so we’re always seeing these innovative ways people use Zendesk.”

In the role of liaison

Tier 3 also serves as the go-between for product and the customer. They own the ticket resolution and keep customers updated about potential fixes, often gathering information by talking to a variety of Zendesk subject matter experts.

Because Tier 3 advocates are frequently the first ones to see and solve a specific issue, it’s part of their job to make sure that information is relayed to other advocates.

“We want to share that knowledge because we don’t want people to go through it again,” he said. “I always try to share that knowledge, even if it’s just updating our documentation or sharing it with our global teams. It’s not good for someone else to spend time on the same issue again in the future—the customer especially.”

Soft skills help solve complex issues

With a consistently stellar CSAT score, David said that it’s not just technical skills that create ideal customer interactions.

The higher the tier, the more technical issues become. Advocates like David have to be highly technical with a deep understanding of the product—but it can be more about using soft skills than technical skills in some situations.

Mastering the soft skill of explaining technical things to non-technical people goes a long way. Throughout his career, David has overheard conversations with customers where technical jargon was being thrown at them, and he vowed to make sure his own customers were never on the other end of the line feeling confused and frustrated.

Actively building a rapport helps, too. Tier 3 tends to spend more time with customers, and striking up a relationship makes explaining technical issues more successful, diffusing any frustrations that a customer might be feeling.

Switching from IT to advocacy

Growing up around computers, David was always comfortable with technology, so he got into IT. But he discovered that path might not be for him. “I had too much personality for IT, to be honest,” he joked. That’s what attracted him to Zendesk: he felt he was able to be himself.

“It just seemed like it was about the people first. It wasn’t like working in IT, where it was always about what you knew and how many certifications you had. At Zendesk, it seemed that it was more based what kind of person you were and what you could bring to the company as a person,” he said.

Being yourself makes those perfecting those soft skills and building customer rapport easier, too. And that’s great advice for agents, whether they’re handling simple questions or working through the most perplexing tickets.

Hear from more Zendesk advocates:

Zac Renault, on on why it’s okay to say, “I don’t know”
Abel Martin, on building great internal partnerships
Arthur Mori, on what everyone should know about Tier 1 support
Benjamin Towne, on mentoring and offering constructive criticism
Rodney Lewis, on setting up an internal shadowing program
Sarah Kay, on her move from advocate to data analyst
Ramona Lopez, on rolling out an advocate recognition program
Aurash Pourmand, on practicing customer empathy
Anna Lee Ledesma, on the skill every great chat agent needs to have
Mark Fado, on providing dedicated 1:1 client support
Justin Helley, on advocacy training and development
Guillaume Deleeuw, on problem-solving in Tier 2 technical support
DeShawn Witter, on providing support in your community
The Tier 3 team, on bringing a hive mentality to work
Peachy Garcia, with best practices for handling chats
Jen Neuls, on the art of business analysis
Alex Popa, on how internal communication impacts customer relationships
Haley Varenkamp, on the value of listening

Related stories

9 min read

5 digital banking customer experience trends to consider for 2024

Banks that consistently optimise the customer experience grow faster. Here are trends and best practices to help guide your CX strategy – and drive customer relationships that last.

5 min read

Give your agents the context they need to solve customer problems

When surveyed, more than half of customer service agents said they usually have to switch between different systems to solve a customer request.

13 min read

The 5 communication styles customer service agents need to know

As a customer service agent, having great customer service communication means everything.

14 min read

How to deal with angry customers: 17 tips, templates, and examples

Not sure what to say to calm down an angry customer? Here’s how to handle an irritated customer and ease tension across channels.