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Essential Tips for Onboarding and Upskilling Technical Support Teams

This post was last Updated on by Himanshu Tyagi to reflect the accuracy and up-to-date information on the page.

Finding the proper customer support is a challenging task for which most business owners are dreadfully unprepared. It would be best to have IT support because you aren’t a tech expert, but that same handicap makes it hard to find the right people.

How do you recruit/train/upskill employees whose jobs you don’t know much about? In this article, we answer that question by closely examining what qualities make a good IT support staff and how you can work with them to ensure they develop the skills most relevant to your business.

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What to Look for in a Tech Support Team

essential tips for onboarding and upskilling technical support teams

Before we get into the thick of how to onboard and upskill your tech support team, let’s talk a little bit about what qualities make a good tech professional in the first place.

1. Diverse Experience

A diversity of experience can help ensure your business has access to any care it might need. Think of it the same way you would your general practitioner. “Oh, you have a fever? Well. I mostly specialize in chills but will give it my best shot.”

You don’t want that. You want a tech team that has been around the block a few times and can provide references from people working within various industries. Success with businesses in your niche is excellent, but the broader their professional scope, the better off you will ultimately be.

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2. Longevity

Ideally, you will be able to find a team that’s experience is as deep as it is wide. The tech support world is highly competitive, and operations are changing like the wind.

Finding a group that has been around for years usually says something about their range of skills and commitment to professionalism. Going with an upstart is ok, but it is always better when you can deal with a sure thing.

3. Upfront Pricing

There are several standard pricing models for IT support. Some groups sell alla carte. You pay for exactly what you use, no more, no less. This is a sensible model, but it can add unpredictability to your monthly budget.

Other groups will price in a more subscription-based manner. For X, you get services up to, including Y. These arrangements can be better for budgeting, but they are only worthwhile when taking advantage of the services.

Also, be wary of hidden fees. Have someone who understands IT review the contract to ensure every service you need is built into the price. You don’t want to arrive at an IT emergency only to find that it will cost significantly more than you expected to pay.

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4. Proactive Care

So much of emergency management is preventative. It’s why we have smoke detectors and may also be why you want to ensure you have excellent tech support. Ideally, your IT department will be able to provide you with solutions that help you avoid serious tech emergencies entirely.

Proactive support will involve monitoring your cybersecurity. Analyzing system efficiency, performing preventative maintenance, and so on. Remember that once your tech goes off the rails, it may result in very pricey productivity lags. Proactive care can help you avoid the worst incidents.

5. Good Guidance

There should come a time when your IT provider smiles kindly and says, well, that would work, but if I were you, I would go with BLANK. You don’t want someone who will wordlessly build you a new server when your business needs some excellent cloud support.

The challenging aspect of IT relationships is that business owners often don’t know what questions they should ask. A great IT professional can steer you in the right direction even when you don’t know what is in your best interest.

6. Cyber Security Awareness

Cyber security is a preventative measure you owe to yourself and your customers. Hackers require only minor gaps to get in and do their nasty work. A good IT team will be forward-minded enough to equip your business with infrastructure for preventative cybersecurity care.

However, they probably shouldn’t be the beginning and end of your cybersecurity strategy. You should also consider the services of a cyber security analyst to further shore up gaps in your protective coverage.

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7. Disaster Readiness

When a cyber issue strikes your business, the ramifications can be costly and significant. Recovering from a cyber attack or system crash can take months. You aren’t just spending money to fix the damage during that time.

You are also experiencing the costs of productivity lags or customer disappointment.

A solid backup system can help you get back on your feet quickly if something unfortunate happens.

8. Consider the Size of the Operation

You don’t necessarily need to have many IT professionals at your service. Most of the time, they are just updating firewalls and helping tech-challenged employees navigate issues your average 5th grader could cut through in a few minutes, right?

But when the cards are down, you don’t want to be hindered by the size of your IT support. Larger teams aren’t always better, but you do at least want enough support to ensure you have adequate coverage in a worst-case scenario.

Also, think about scalability. The IT provider might be big enough for your business now, but will it work as you grow?

9. Dialogue is Important

Finally, you want to work with IT professionals with whom you can have a good back-and-forth. On the one hand, you need them to respect your authority and follow your wishes when it counts the most. On the other hand, you don’t need a bunch of yes-men.

While you have the financial authority, they have the expertise. You want to work with people who will know how to provide input while demonstrating a willingness to toe the company line when needed. It’s a delicate balance,e but it will make a world of difference for your business when you can find a way to strike it.

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How to Onboard Your IT Staff

Ok, now you’ve hired the right people, but you want to ensure they get off to a great start. Below we highlight how you can onboard and upskill the new team members to ensure they get off to a roaring start.

Step 1: Explain the Scope of Their Responsibilities

One of the most critical aspects of orienting new hires is ensuring they understand what is expected of them. In this case, the responsibilities are most likely baked into the job description, but you still want to ensure they understand how demanding the work will be, what they will be doing on a day-to-day basis, and so on.

The faster they acclimate to your business, the quicker you can establish a productive relationship.

Step 2: Make Introductions

The new IT people shouldn’t have to meet the rest of your team the first time someone needs to install a Windows update. While IT people do much of their work out of sight or in the background, they are still essential to the organization.

Show them you recognize that by taking them around to meet everyone.

It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. A few simple hellos are all it will take to make them feel welcome.

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Step 3: Explain Your Processes

Get into the nitty gritty. Explain how you communicate. What do your schedules look like? Is there a wacky tie day? They won’t know until you tell them, so lay it out there. Not only will this ensure that everyone is on the same page, but it will also put their nerves at ease.

Everyone gets a little nervous about starting a new gig. Assuage their fears by helping them get the lay of the land early on.

Step 4: Layout the First Week/Weeks for Them

Most people aren’t a big fan of micromanagement. However, operating with complete autonomy during the first week of employment can be challenging. You can help your new hire get the lay of the land by writing a tight schedule detailing their first week or so on the job.

The more complex their responsibilities, the more time you may decide to lay out for them. The idea is to ensure they feel comfortable with their responsibilities in their first days on the job.

Step 5: Initiate Them to Your Tools

Tech stacks can vary pretty significantly from business to business. You expect your IT person to be able to assess and adapt to new tools quickly, but it’s better not to take anything for granted. Tool proficiency does not necessarily equate to their overall skills as an IT professional.

As you help them get oriented to the job, ensure they understand what tools you use, how to use them, and so on.

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Step 6: Establish Goals

The IT department is no different than any other division of your company. You hire people for who they are now and who they can be. As your new hire(s) warm up to the job, you can start thinking about the future. What do you want your IT department to look like in one year?

What are your long-term growth goals, and how does tech support factor into the equation? Answering these questions further establishes expectations and serves as a springboard for future upskilling efforts.

Step 7: Assess Gaps in Skill

As your new team member starts to get settled in, you can begin to assess gaps in their skills. Most likely, they will be well acquainted with handling most of your needs, but perhaps there are niche-specific skills that they haven’t developed yet.

Or maybe their abilities are fine for now, but they don’t quite align with where you want to be in five years.

You can evaluate skills organically by looking at performance indicators or setting time aside through workshopping events.

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Step 8: Make Time for Education

If you want employees to take upskilling seriously, you must demonstrate that it is essential to your business. It would be best to fit it into the schedule rather than shoe-horning education opportunities into minuscule time slots or encouraging staff to pursue further learning on their own time.

Block off days or even weeks for training opportunities. Pay them for their time learning new skills, and ensure their regular responsibilities are covered.

If they have to worry about returning to a mountain of work when their upskilling seminar is over, it could seriously impact the efficacy of their training.

Step 9: Rinse and Repeat

Finally, it’s essential to realize that upskilling is never something you will be finished with. Your business will grow, change, and expand. You’ll need your IT department to grow with it. As you prioritize upskilling, ensure it is part of a positive feedback loop.

It isn’t about squeezing every possible ounce of effort out of an employee. It’s about helping your staff maximize their potential and rewarding them for making the effort.

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Ojasv Jain
Ojasv Jain
In the world of tech since 2015. I started writing about it in 2019. I have also expertise in food reviews, photography and travel blogs.

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