Breaking Into SaaS Support

Illustration by Erik Blad
Illustration by Erik Blad

In Ask Help Scout, long-time customer service professional Mat “Patto” Patterson answers readers’ most challenging customer support delivery, leadership, and career questions.

Dear Patto,

How can I move into a SaaS customer service role? All of my past jobs were customer-facing, but I don’t have the 1-2 years of SaaS experience that everybody seems to be asking for. Is it even worth me applying for those roles?

Thanks for any advice,
Cortney

Dear Cortney,

First let me encourage you: Software companies will absolutely hire customer service reps who don’t have SaaS experience. I’ve done it myself. Even those asking for 1-2 years of experience are often just trying to filter out more experienced (and therefore more expensive) people.

Research has also shown that men are more likely to apply to and be hired into roles where they don’t meet the stated requirements. So you can confidently apply in those same situations.

Now, how to book those interviews and, ultimately, a job offer? Since you don’t have prior SaaS experience to point to, you’re going to have to work a little bit harder to show how the experience you do have will apply in those roles.

Start by thinking back over your previous work. You’re looking for great stories you can tell about how you helped customers in difficult circumstances, handled inter-personal conflict, or went above and beyond to solve a tricky dilemma. Those skills will all transfer well to online support.

When looking for potential roles, start with companies that might value your previous industry experience. For example, even though I was not a customer service pro at the time, my web design skills were highly valued by Campaign Monitor (who were then selling email marketing software specifically to web designers). If you can bring relevant domain knowledge to a role, it will count for a lot.

Your real goal is to build confidence in the hiring manager that yes, Cortney could do this job well if we gave her a chance. That starts right from your application letter, where you will directly address your lack of experience.

Let them know that you’ve read the requirements, acknowledge you don’t technically meet them, and explain how the skills and experience you do have will make you a great candidate. Highlight other skills you have learned as evidence that you could get up to speed quickly.

Our article on how to craft your customer service resume is worth a read; be sure to tweak your resume each time to reflect the priorities of the role you are applying for.

Once you book an interview, take some time to prepare. Sign up for a free account, try out whatever you can, and read through the support documentation and any customer forums. Write down a few thoughtful questions that you can ask during your interview. Our customer service interview questions are a handy way to think through potential answers.

In the meantime, consider joining a customer service community like Support Driven. It’s a great place to learn, find jobs, and be encouraged in your journey toward a new career.

Finally, we’ve got a bunch more tips for you in these articles: 7 Tips for Becoming a SaaS Support Professional and How to Snag a Remote Customer Service Job.

If you can get through a few interviews, you’ll find your confidence increasing, and I know you will find the right match before too long.

Best of luck getting SaaSy,

P.S. If you’re a hiring manager reading this who’s open to hiring a skilled-but-inexperienced customer service team member, let us know! We will put you in touch with Cortney.

Have a question for Patto?

Have a question for Patto?

Mathew Patterson
Mathew Patterson

After running a support team for years, Mat joined the marketing team at Help Scout, where we make excellent customer service achievable for companies of all sizes. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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