The 3 Cs of Great Support Agents

By Justin Smith

A great hire not only solves for an immediate need, but can grow and influence your team in tremendous ways. Job skills are important, but often a person's personality traits are what take them from good to great. Knowing which traits to look for can be challenging. There are the obvious factors that apply to any role, like being honest, trustworthy, and reliable. However there are other characteristics that are specifically beneficial to a support role. Here are 3 Cs that can make a great support agent.

Curious

The original C for this section was going to be Confused. Being confused means that you don’t know the answers, which is a humble stance that many of the best support agents take. However, some reps get stuck in the spirit of being confused and don't take the next step of troubleshooting. A word that incorporates this next step is Curious. Curious people will not know what is happening, but will strive to figure out the answer. They will try many different combinations to get to a final solution, which should be another c-word (Correct!) The best thing about curious people is that the answer that worked last week doesn’t have be the answer that works this week. If things change, they’re already on top of potential differences and variations on what works.

Clever

The second C is important because not every problem can be attacked the same way. Fresh perspective is always helpful to reaching successful conclusions. Often, issues will present themselves with very similar symptoms, which might cause an agent to write them off as the same. If you’re at all familiar with the TV show “House M.D.”, you know that this was the entire premise of the show. A patient (let’s call it Top Weekly Problem) comes in. The issues that are shown are just like Top Weekly Problem from 2 months ago with a dash of Top Monthly Problem from February. The best thing about House? He was clever. He could find the one or two things that distinguished the issue, and his diagnosis always led to correction of the problem. You want that person who can really think differently. 

Compassionate

The last C here is a huge part of any customer facing role. Classic support burnout exhibits itself in the form of quick responses, followed by low first-contact-resolution metrics. Agents hear a problem, identify it too quickly, and proceed to attack that problem, all while pretending to be listening to the fine details. Customers don’t contact support to be coldly handled and pushed away with a fix. They want to be heard and understood. There is nothing worse than feeling like something must be explained multiple times, for a simple or curt response. Great agents put themselves in the shoes of the customer. This usually results in much better service, because it brings a human touch to an interaction that can easily feel transactional. A compassionate experience is often better than a complicated, albeit correct, answer.

Many hiring managers get too focused on specific technical skills or qualifications, and assume those are all it takes to create a good customer experience. The 3 Cs are traits that serve as a solid foundation for a new support hire. Hiring for these characteristics across your support team can elevate results, and provide catchy, alternative talent pitch that helps you recruit top talent. Find someone with these three qualities and you could be looking at your next support superstar. 

Need help planning the hiring process for your next customer success agent? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers a CS hiring kit, tailored to your company and team. Kits include a model of your ideal rep, a job description designed to send the right candidates your way, and interview questions to help you find your top candidate. Check out our website for more information and additional services – TheSuccessLeague.io

Justin Smith - Justin is an enthusiastic and determined customer advocate, who builds and leads award-winning technical support organizations.  For almost a decade, Justin has worked with customer-centric companies like FedEx and VerticalResponse to create exceptional client care experiences. He is an advisor and photographer for The Success League, and works for Revinate. Justin holds a BA from UC Davis, and resides in Oakland, CA.