After studying psychology at the University of Lincoln, Stephen spent time as a support worker before kick starting a career in tech. Discover how he became a customer experience specialist (CES) at ECI Software Solutions
How did you get into customer experience?
After years of working as a support worker, putting my psychology degree to good use I wanted a change. I enrolled on a short IT course, expanding my knowledge in my own time.
This then coincided with a position becoming available at ECI. A friend of mine worked there and told me about a job that they were recruiting for in the customer experience team.
Is work experience necessary?
Work experience isn't essential, but having a positive attitude and willingness to learn is. I came in relatively cold - the IT course I was studying focussed more on hardware, whereas in my role I was dealing with software support enquiries.
ECI offers a good training package with a team that supports you, which helped me to quickly get up to speed.
What was the recruitment process like?
I attended an interview with two of the managers. Alongside the usual types of questions you'd expect in a job interview - talking about myself, my previous experience in the sector and why I wanted the role - they gave me a case scenario to solve. You need to be prepared to think on your feet when applying for a job like this. Also, having good knowledge of the company, its values and the work it does is essential.
What's a typical day like?
All ECI queries are answered via a queue system. Our customers can log their case into the virtual queue system, and we are then given milestones and targets to solve it. As a CES it's my job to gather enough information about the case so that it can be moved over to the next suitable team to investigate. Sometimes this involves calling the customers back to ask some more questions.
As well as working on this virtual management system, we also each wear headsets so that we can take calls for issues, answering them immediately. Sometimes there are cases that we can close from our level, and sometimes we pass on to a product support specialist.
We have frequent team and company meetings, giving us updates about the company's performance from all levels. We're also encouraged to book off time during the day for training, so that we can learn about new software.
In my role we're expected to take accountability for our own time and to keep up to date with new changes to the internal systems. For example, there may be a period of Beta testing, with some customers trialling the new updated software. We need to know who these clients are, as their support needs will be different to another customer.
What do you like about working at ECI?
It's a friendly but professional business. ECI has good structure and progression opportunities and everyone I've met at the company has been helpful towards new staff.
I like the fact it's global, with offices in the USA, Australia and Europe. However, local branches are relatively small, so you get to know everyone in your building.
What part of your job gives you the most satisfaction?
I enjoy the progression. Learning something new, and the encouragement you get to broaden your skill set.
ECI encourages and empowers you to achieve your personal goals. You get as much help as you need, but it's up to you to take things forward.
What are the challenges?
Trying to really get to grips with the core problem for each of our customers. Sometimes an issue arises or a case is created and it's not clear what they're actually asking for.
We need to be able to explain it to the next team up, so you need to learn what the issue is in order for it to be solved fully - this requires good communication and problem solving skills.
Due to the nature of our company, another challenge is learning each new software product from scratch. We need a baseline level of understanding around all of the software in order to do our job well - when working as a product support specialist it becomes more specific.
What are the top three skills you need in your role?
- A great sense of deduction.
- Communication skills.
- Efficiency. Sometimes there can be backlogs in our queue system. We need to be able to move at a decent speed without losing the quality of our support.
In what way is your degree relevant?
I've learned transferable skills such as communication and problem solving. Also, the ability to be a self-starter in terms of my professional development comes in handy.
What are your career ambitions?
As part of my progression to move over to a product support specialist I've been learning a software called Spruce, which is specifically designed for independent builders' merchants. I've been doing this for a couple of days a week, alongside my CES role.
How do I get into a similar role?
Prepare to learn a lot. You will be learning something new most days. Make sure you can work fast to keep up with targets, and keep on top of your time management/planning, balancing all of your priorities.