The Skills You Need for a Support-Driven Growth Role

You might have read about Support-Driven Growth (SDG) and wondered to yourself, “How do I get in on that action?!” I was once that person, too. I started at Help Scout on our Customers team, and recently I moved into a Support-Driven Growth role. Today I’m here to dish out some insights on what it’s like to work in SDG, and to share some ways you can start to shape your own role toward something similar.

Support-Driven Growth is a business approach aimed at shifting the customer support channel from cost center to critical revenue driver.

Becoming a Support-Driven Growth specialist

The core of Support-Driven Growth is and will always be excellent customer support, so all our usual approaches to being friendly, helpful and efficient still apply. My SDG role allows me to spend less time working directly in the queue, and more time conducting coaching calls with our customers. Typically, I help pre-trial and trial customers learn all about what Help Scout can do for them and their business.

One of my favorite activities is hosting the Getting Started with Help Scout webinars. Sure, I follow a light script, but it’s so much fun to teach groups in my own way. It’s like performing in front of an audience, but I can’t hear their applause or see their eye rolls at my horrible jokes. I love it! There are a ton of other things I do on a daily or weekly basis that have really upped my skills as a support agent, so let’s dive into how to prepare yourself to become a SDG specialist.

Skills you’ll need to develop

1. Understand your customer journey

In order to be genuinely helpful to your customers, you need a deep understanding of their experience in using your product or service. Be sure to live out the entire process your customers go through, from first touch through trialling, paying, and active use. Don’t just try the most common path — try a few! No matter where any particular customer is when you’re working with them, you should be able to hop in to assist them in getting to the next step.

2. Deepen your product knowledge

Once you know the customer journey, you can become a subject matter expert in all the most common issues for customers getting started. If you’re going to do coaching calls or live webinars, you’ll often need to answer questions on the fly. So it’s good to really know your stuff. One great way to practice is to take on as many live chat shifts as you can, if that’s a channel your company offers.

3. Deepen your industry knowledge

It’s important to know what other platforms your software works well with. Help Scout isn’t a one stop shop for every business need, so I had to learn which integrations would fit certain situations and how they work together. I increased my knowledge on CRMs, e-commerce, SMS/text, social media, and phone integrations as well as a few others that customers often ask about. Browse the knowledge bases of those products, try their free trials where you can, and practice going through the integration process. The more you understand the broader ecosystem your customers live in, the more helpful you can be in guiding them through it.

4. Level up your time management

In a SDG role, you may no longer have control over your full schedule, since customers are often able to book time with you. If you have an important task to get done, block it out on your calendar as soon as you can. Practice prioritizing your task list so that you are in control of how you spend your time, rather than being dragged from task to task by other people.

5. Take effective notes

One of the most important products of a customer coaching call is the notes you take. For some customers this will be the first time they have ever dealt with your product. You can’t expect them to remember everything you went over. It’s your responsibility to lead the call and take the notes. You can practice by taking notes in all of your meetings to work on those active listening skills and by leaving amazing notes for your team to prepare for those solo calls.

6. Understand the business you work in

The “G” in SDG is about growing your company, and as an SDG specialist you’ll need to understand how your work contributes to that growth. At Help Scout, we track things such as how many pre-trial customer consults converted to trial customers, and from there, how many trials converted to paying customers. We use this information to study the process and see if there is anything we can improve on. This practice has really taught me how to measure success from an “action to goal to revenue” perspective. What actions are we taking to reach a certain goal and what impact on revenue does that have for the business?

7. Build your toolkit

Utilize new tools to make your work life easier. Working in Support-Driven Growth roles will throw new organizational and technical challenges your way. For me, Google Calendar, Zoom, TextExpander, YouCanBookMe, and Help Scout’s notes, saved replies, and search tools are some of my favorites! When it comes to saved replies, recognize questions you get asked often, and create some that you can piece together for a strong follow-up email.

Challenges of a Support-Driven Growth role

While I truly love my work, it’s not all a walk in the park with SDG. Here are the things I have struggled with personally, so that you can be mindful of these, too.

1. Queue guilt

Customer calls and follow-ups take a ton of your time. It may leave you feeling guilty that you were unable to crush the queue as you normally might. The best way to get past this is to have a conversation with your manager about what is expected of you since your responsibilities have changed, and trust that they will tell you if anything needs to be improved.

Related: Which kind of support person are you?

2. Difficult calls

Most customer calls are pleasant and extremely rewarding. Some … are not. You will run into people who prefer other products but are required to talk to you because of their own job. You might run into the folks who think they already know everything they need to and feel as if the call is pointless. And my personal “favorite,” the people who won’t let you get five words in without interrupting.

These calls happen, but you can get through them! It helps to practice calls like these with your teammates. And when in doubt, channel your inner Beyoncé. Who runs this call? You do! You are the expert here. Stay calm and keep the control in your court.

3. Not knowing everything

Trust me, you won’t always have the answers and that’s OK! Learn how to admit when you don’t know something and have no shame about it. Do your best to find the answer from someone or something that does, and follow-up with the customer in a timely fashion. In the meantime, learn how to search for things quickly like a pro!

What you do really matters

My Support-Driven Growth work has helped me feel more connected to the company than I ever have before. Having that deeper understanding of how my work directly impacts Help Scout was the missing puzzle piece to my support career. Whether it’s through SDG or any other initiative, I encourage every support professional to dig deeper and find out the impact they are making on their business.

If you’re a support leader, make it your duty that every support agent knows exactly how they make a difference and make the company better. Start today!

Chanita Simms

Chanita Simms

Chanita is on the customers team at Help Scout and is Founder of Melanin.Tech. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.