What does a Technical Support Engineer do?
The term ‘Technical support engineer’ evokes different reactions from people. Some believe that these guys are a panacea for every information tech snafu that ever existed. There’s certainly no dearth of those, are there? Others think that these are the shoddy customer service reps that you encounter when you dial a call centre.
50% of that is true. Yes, these are the help desk team that deal with the responsibilities of the technical issues that your business experience on a daily basis. Software, computer hardware, malware, network, internet, software, routers, cables, keyboards, installing and configuring computer security services etc – they have the technical knowledge and problem solving skills to tackle every glitch-prone computer component and software systems at your companies workplace, and home.
Unfortunately, they are also the guys that have to answer the phone when you are ripping your hair out, dealing with unexpected technical problems. Whether they are shoddy or not depends entirely on the London IT support company you are working with and how much they care for providing strong customer service.
If you have always wondered about a technical support engineer’s true job titles in a modern work environment, then here’s a brief primer to provide you the ability to help better understand.
What are the roles and responsibilities of Technical Support?
In simple terms, a Technical Support Engineer solve information technology related support problems. That’s a broad strokes description though.
The task can be as simple as updating outdated software, or as complex as setting up an impenetrable firewall. No job is too small, or too challenging for an engineer with the right technical knowledge and help desk support expertise.
If you browse through Tech Support job listings, you’ll discover that the job descriptions are often open ended. This means that an IT support engineer is expected to deal with an extremely wide range of IT-related tasks and solving technical support issues that cannot be defined or limited.
That said, here are some of the most common responsibilities that support engineers typically experience for their clients.
• Responding to technical support queries from their customers who use computer systems. It can be large organisations or mum & pop shops, or a one-man operation.
• Installation of new computer systems, including hardware and software
• Configuring computer networks
• Creating new user accounts and setting up access control applications and software systems
• The ability to efficiently Support technical issues for Apple Macs
• Installing and troubleshooting software such as Microsoft Word & Linux
• Installing, supporting and troubleshooting operating systems such as Windows
• Monitoring networks and diagnosing potential problems
• Monitoring network security
• Consultation for inventory upgrades
• Maintaining company inventory
• Maintaining companies data backups and restoring access in case of data loss
• Maintaining a log of existing snags and vulnerabilities along with the restorative actions taken
As we briefly mentioned, this is only a glimpse into the roles and responsibilities of technical support engineers. It can be a lot more elaborate or even a lot simpler, depending on the size of the organisation and their systems IT infrastructure.
What are the skills required for Technical Support Engineer?
A technical support engineer’s job is generally considered to be a mid-career position that offers ample growth opportunities into a variety of departments. But it can also be a great entry-level career for the right candidate, provided they have the right experience and technical skills.
1. Patience – Most people expect a technical skill, such as CISCO certification or a computer science degree, to top the list of skill sets for a technical support engineer job. But the most important skill a tech support engineer needs is patience when dealing with technical issues. For most part, support engineers will be attending calls with stressed out customers at the other end. It will be a high pressure situation. You need to remain calm and composed, while troubleshooting technical support issues and trying to diagnose the problem as soon as possible. It’s not easy at all to deal with computer glitches. It gets worse when there’s an irate customer at the other end. What makes excellent technical support is loads of patience and a little empathy.
2. Listening skills – Listening skills are critical to succeed in a technical support engineer job. You’ve got to allow the customer to speak, without interrupting. At the same time, you’ve got to listen closely to understand what the problem is. Many a times, the interpretation of a technical problem might make a difference in the outcome of the customers experience.
3. Problem solving – The most critical skill that a technical support engineer needs, is the ability to provide good problem solving for their clients. You may be dealing with technical support problems day in and out. Most of them will not be covered in any technical services manual. You’ve got to use your analytical skills and knowledge and may need some out of the box thinking to come up with solutions. It does not matter if the solution is a little creative, as long as it gets the job done. When you cannot get the job done, it’s equally important to escalate it to a higher tier within the service providers support desk team.
4. Flexibility – Technical support problems don’t adhere to work hours or the weekend. In some organisations, engineers are expected to be available on call for emergency situations for their customers company. If the thought of working on an urgent data recovery in the middle of the night doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then this might not be a good career for you.
5. Tech Savviness – You’ve got to stay updated with the most current technologies and latest operating systems. You might be expected to provide an audit or make recommendations for software and hardware upgrades, mobile applications, network components and cyber security services. A technical support engineer must be a quick learner and have a keen eye for technical trends.
6. Communication – For most part of the day, you will be breaking down complex concepts or uninteresting processes to end users and the companies they may work for. Communication skills will provide the ability to help you break it down into bite-sized chunks of comprehensible information.
Is a Technical Support Engineer a good job?
Absolutely! Technical support engineers are considered the backbone of an IT system and their helpdesk team. For a company that provides IT support to clients, these guys are the face of the organisation. They are assigned mission-critical jobs that often deal with complex computer systems, both hardware and software along with customer data worth billions of pounds.
An organisation might be very choosy about who they pick to be a part of their IT support teams. But that’s because these technical jobs demand special skill sets that, to a degree, not everybody possesses.
You’ve got to be a fantastic listener, a problem solver, have deductive skills, have strong communication skills, be a learner, have an eye for techie things and lastly, have a customer-first attitude. If you’ve got those skills, you’ll be a welcome new addition to any organisation.