The Evolution of the Technical Support Engineer Role
We are pleased to share this blog from Everest Group guest bloggers, Chhandak Biswas and David Rickard.
Once viewed primarily as troubleshooters who solely fix computer issues, today’s technical support engineers are complex problem solvers delivering next-generation solutions who also are emphatic brand champions. This new breed of talent plays increasingly sophisticated roles in enhancing the customer product experience and realizing value for leading enterprises. The soft and technical skills needed for this integral position are morphing. To learn more about how the technical support engineer job role is rapidly evolving in the current era and how companies are nurturing such talent, read on.
For more on our continuing coverage of how digitalization is changing technical support functions, also see our blog on the Strategic Role of Technical Support in Driving SaaS Adoption.
Traditional roles and responsibilities of technical support engineers
Technical support engineers help clients fix technological issues related to specific products or overall technical infrastructure, either virtually or in person. They ensure products and systems function as desired and provide the technical skills needed to keep them working properly. These individuals also provide the required know-how to help customers understand the complete functionality of their products to maximize their value and proactively prevent issues. Activities performed by technical support engineers range from low-complexity queries such as account activation and troubleshooting known bugs to complex platform support activities and analytics support for product enhancement.
As companies heavily rely on technical support services to swiftly run their business, technical support engineers act as the face of the technology solution provider’s brand when engaging with the end user and reflect their values and brand promise. Technical support engineers bring varied skill sets that are important for their job success.
Traditional skills and expectations from technical support engineers include:
Technical and product knowledge: A technical support engineer must be technically sound to troubleshoot and solve client problems. They also need an in-depth understanding of technology solution providers’ products to quickly understand and derive the appropriate solution.
Problem solving: To turn things around swiftly, the ability to think critically and solve complex problems are musts for technical support engineers. This is especially relevant when supporting more complex and time-sensitive queries for enterprises.
Interpersonal skills: Starting with actively listening, understanding, and explaining the resolution to the user, a technical support engineer is expected to possess excellent interpersonal skills.
Client systems and platform knowledge: Clients often leverage multiple platforms and technologies that are interconnected and interdependent, making it critical for the technical support engineer to have an overarching knowledge of the client’s technology landscape.
Evolving role of the technical support engineer
With companies around the world digitalizing rapidly, embedding technology in every business aspect, and adopting as-a-service business models, the importance of technical support is rising to the forefront.
Along with increasing cloud adoption, the shift towards a SaaS-based model, and continuously evolving data governance regulations, the technical support engineer function also has advanced. Technical support engineer roles and responsibilities have gone from traditional technical support work focused on “break-fix” hardware and software support elements to being customer success champions. Technical support engineers are also expected to handle more complicated queries as low complexity queries are now increasingly solved by self-service solutions and chatbots.
Modern technical support engineers play an important part in driving brand loyalty, increasing product and service consumption, and providing analytics-driven product enhancement insights. They offer proactive support capabilities and a differentiated client experience that maximize the end client’s value realization.
Let’s look at the new competencies needed for this vital role:
Innovative mindset: The growing number of technologies, products, and tools demand technical support engineers think out-of-the-box and provide innovative solutions to solve both simple and complex problems for clients.
Project Management capabilities: With more complex queries and increased interlinkage between products and platforms from multiple technology vendors, the technical support engineer job has progressed from being purely technical to having managerial aspects of coordinating between different stakeholders to arrive at quick and effective solutions.
Empathy: Leading companies realize theimportance of technical support in reinforcing and mirroring the brand promise and values. Technical support engineers need to be empathetic to user problems and deliver an optimal experience
Analyzing data: As support services become more dynamic and data-backed decision-making is deeply infused in businesses, analyzing data and proactively finding issues is an integral part of the role.
Adapting to next-generation solutions: The adoption of modern technologies and solutions such as cloud-based solutions, automation, and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based solutions has demanded that individuals in these roles adapt to these new requirements.
Understanding cyber security: Because cyber security is of paramount importance today, technical support engineers need to keep up with the evolving threats and proactively make users aware of the possible security risks.
How organizations are keeping up with the evolving role of technical support engineers
With the evolving responsibilities required from technical support engineers, organizations are increasingly looking to adopt new techniques to create a workforce of differentiated talent. Here are some of the key avenues actively being tapped:
Specialized hiring strategies: Effective sourcing, recruitment, and onboarding are put in place by most organizations. They look to hire technical support engineers with a strong foundation of technology and soft skills. This eases their transition from a new hire to a customer success champion due to the individual’s inherent ability to troubleshoot problems and comfortably offer support.
Targeted training curriculum: As technical support engineers usually come from diverse backgrounds and have different learning needs, targeted development programs are implemented that span learning platforms to deliver interactive experiences, gamification, and the use of Knowledge Management (KM) applications. Organizations often develop on-the-job training that is module-based, self-paced, and interactive.
Continuous engagement: Due to the challenging job environment, burnout is a real issue, especially for a technical support engineer. Organizations often drive engagement initiatives and team bonding exercises to promote cohesion and keep their talent engaged.
Organizations today understand the strategic importance of the technical support engineer role. Faced with the challenges of in-house centers being unable to maintain a good talent pipeline, most organizations are increasingly relying on service providers for talent sourcing and hiring. Service providers can expand access to a skilled talent pool from wider sourcing destinations, which is extremely relevant at this time when the global sourcing landscape is facing an acute talent shortage. These partners can also facilitate easy ramp-up and down of the workforce depending on requirements.
Interested in learning more about our approach to specialized technical support and our exceptional tech talent? Let’s talk.