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Career Story: Manager Of Customer Support For A Software And Services Provider

Manager Of Customer Support For A Software And Services Provider

Job Title: Manager, Premium Support Programs

Type of Company: My company is a large hardware/software/services corporation, providing services to our top customers.

Education: BS, Psychology, University of Amherst (MA) •• M.Ed., Education, Lesley College

Previous Experience: I started as a programmer for a small healthcare software company and moved to positions of increased responsibility in various software companies.

Job Tasks: I manage a team of individuals who provide both proactive and reactive services for many of our company's key customers. This is a value-added service which our customers purchase on top of their maintenance and support contracts for our software. In this role, I am responsible not just for all aspects of personnel management for my team, but also work closely with both them and their customers to ensure that our customers are satisfied with the service and support we supply them. One of our goals in working with our customers is "making our software stick"; i.e., ensuring that they are satisfied with our software, that implementation and production issues are addressed in a timely manner and that they see value and a return on their investment in our software products.

As far as describing a "typical day" goes: I'm not sure I have such a thing. When I interview candidates for my team, what I will tell them is that the good thing about the position is that every day is different, and that the bad thing about the position is that every day is different. A call from a customer, whether it is for a problem that they are experiencing (for example a software problem or a server outage) or a request for information, can change your entire day, since it may be necessary to re-order or re-prioritize the tasks that you've been working on. We are often in situations where we are in tight time frames to resolve an issue or accomplish a task and the workday can spill over into the evening, or a weekend, and can also result in a high degree of stress.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of the job are the variety from day to day, the flexibility in the job (I often work from home) and the feeling of accomplishment I derive from having helped an employee or resolved a customer issue.

The worst parts of the job are the stress and the fact that, since our software is considered by our customers to be "mission critical," there are times when the job extends beyond normal working hours.

Job Tips:
1. To do this type of work you need to be a good problem solver. Often what a customer doesn't tell you is as important as what he does.

2. Communication is key; you have to be able to listen, ask open-ended questions and ensure that you have followed up in writing.

3. When customers call, they're often frustrated, and you have to remember not to take it personally. All they want is for the software to work as expected, and when it doesn't you need to bear in mind that it affects their ability (or the ability of people around them) to do their jobs.

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