How Customer Support Jobs Can Kick-Start Your Tech Career 

7 minutes

Good news: There are lots of entry-level Customer Support roles that don’t require coding experience, which makes it a great option for early-career job seekers or career changers. Because the technical barrier to entry is lower than with other tech roles, Customer Support can be a great place to get a foot in the door.  

To learn more about how to launch a career in Customer Support, we talked to two of Codecademy’s own Customer Support team, Allyn Faenza, Manager of Customer Support, and Kaitlin Jaggers, Customer Support Team Lead. 

For some job seekers, working in Support can be a stepping stone to learn more about the tech world. “It’s a great way to be able to view a product or site from behind the scenes and really learn everything about it before exploring the developer side of things,” Kaitlin says. You also get a lot of exposure to the types of tasks different types of developers do, so you can build your future career based on the work you’re more interested in. In fact, Customer Support is such a valuable crash course in a company’s product and customers that some high-profile tech companies ask all their team members to do a rotation in support. (We have a Customer Support shadowing program at Codecademy!)  

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Customer Support is a rewarding career path that requires strong interpersonal skills like communication, problem-solving, and empathy. If your goal is to specialize in people ops, Customer Support is a valuable place to start. “I’m personally more interested in the people management and operations side of things,” Kaitlin says, “so after starting at Codecademy as an entry-level Customer Support Specialist, I’ve worked my way up to Team Lead to help support this team and onboard new team members.” 

Want to start honing these skills so you can stand out when applying for Customer Support positions? We recently added over 70 professional skills courses to our catalog, including free courses on the techniques and key practices that Customer Support Specialists use on a daily basis.  

What is a typical day like in Customer Support? 

Customer Support is usually the first point of contact when a person needs help using a company’s product or service. “For Codecademy’s Support team, a typical day mainly focuses on working directly with our learners,” Kaitlin says. “This includes following up on previous correspondence as well as any new tickets that come in.”  

Processing a ticket queue 

Most tech companies, including Codecademy, use a ticketing system to manage and respond to customer enquiries submitted via email. Some might offer phone or chat support, which can mean less flexibility with your working hours (although AI-powered support chatbots are becoming more common). The same is true for companies whose products are mission-critical for their users — if you’re working in Customer Support for a bank, for example, there’s more likely to be an on-call element as the bank needs to deliver 24/7 service to its customers. 

Some companies employ Support Engineers who dig into the code and submit bug fixes themselves, but it’s more common for Customer Support Agents or Specialists to act as the go-between for customers and developers. This involves: 

  • Gathering as much information as possible about an issue 
  • Attempting to replicate the problem 
  • Reporting the issue to the correct engineering team 
  • Occasionally working with that engineering team to troubleshoot 

Once resolved, the Support Agent follows up with the learner to share the resolution and close the ticket.  

Testing new features 

A cool perk of working in Customer Support is getting a sneak peek at upcoming features. Our Customer Support team often helps our Engineering team with testing ahead of a product or new feature release, Kaitlin says. “Our team is great at being a fresh pair of eyes and are really in tune with how our learners think, so we work with them regularly to help test something before we launch on our site,” she says.  

Handling billing and payment queries 

Depending on your skillset and career aspirations, you might decide to specialize in a specific area of customer support work, like billing or upgrades. “I took on dispute resolution because I got really interested in payments,” Allyn says. “That means working through an additional queue and communicating with banks to provide evidence about what Codecademy is and educating people about what charges mean.” 

Collaborating with other departments 

Since customers are key stakeholders, supporting them influences almost every aspect of a business. Customer Support teams frequently share their findings across other departments or will collaborate with a specific team. “Sometimes Finance, Design, or Product, for example, might have questions about what our learners think about some aspect of the product or website,” Allyn says. “We can go gather feedback from customer communications and provide that for them in a report or in a meeting.”  

The Codecademy Customer Support team also recently launched a shadow program. “Anyone on the Codecademy team can join to learn more about the Support team and our learners as well,” Kaitlin says. The team can customize their shadow sessions based on the shadower’s interests or what they’re working on. “If you’re part of a team that launched a new product recently and want to see what questions or feedback our learners have on this product, we’ll pull tickets that cover this beforehand and walk through them with the team member shadowing.” 

How to become a Customer Support Specialist 

While many Customer Support roles have entry-level opportunities, if you want to get a taste for working in the field and start developing relevant skills now, check out Codecademy’s new Customer Support courses to learn about discovering customer needs, engaging with customers, fostering a service mindset, and more.  

It’s expected that you’ll learn a lot on the job, eventually becoming an expert on the product (or at least knowing the right teams to reach out to for answers). “We’ll provide all the education someone needs about our product,” Allyn says. 

Gaining experience using the product or service you’re supporting is important so you can understand what each feature is supposed to do, and respond when a user reports it acting differently, Kaitlin explains. The nature of the product or industry you’re in will determine how steep a learning curve there is (think of the difference between supporting customers trying to use a mobile banking app versus customers deploying containerized software, for example). 

While you typically don’t write code in these types of roles, knowing how to read and understand code can help you be more efficient. “Attempting to replicate a learner issue on our site might mean digging into developer tools in the console and seeing what errors we’re getting,” Allyn says. Kaitlin puts her SQL knowledge to use to pull up data and reports for her team and provide evidence for learner reports.  

The soft skills you need for Customer Support 

While you probably already know that working in tech isn’t just about writing code in solitude, Customer Support especially entails a lot of talking to people to understand their problems. “Having an open mind is great!” Kaitlin says. “A lot of our reports require some deep diving and playing around to recreate the issue so put on your problem-solving hat.”  

While some larger companies will allocate tickets based on a team member’s specialization, at a small startup you might not have that option, so having a sense of ownership over your tickets will be important. “When everyone works on everything, you have to be ready to get your hands dirty and work with others,” Kaitlin says.  

“If you’re more of a solo worker and like to rely on yourself and just put your head down, support may not be for you,” Allyn says. “We work so closely with our learners, and we rely on them so much to give us the information we need to solve problems.” You can develop collaboration skills over time on the job, but if you want to get a head start, take our free course on becoming a successful collaborator.  

Developing empathy is a big one: “At Codecademy, we work with individuals who are learning a new skill, which we all know can be extremely frustrating at times,” Kaitlin says. “You have to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the customer and help them the best you can.”  

The soft skills you develop in Customer Support are universally useful in any tech role, whether you work your way up the ladder in Support or see it as a launchpad for other career paths. Check out our catalog of professional skills courses to start learning today.

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