Hiring the Right Support Team

20 Nov

In my last blog post (read it here),  I mentioned that the PBwiki Support Team has changed drastically in the way we handle our tickets and the way we measure ourselves. Another way we’ve changed is in the way we hire.

In the beginning, PBwiki was used by a lot of early adopters of technology – people who were tolerant of some bugs, who enjoyed hacking around in the product, and people who would rather discover and learn for themselves than contact support. To answer the questions that did come through, we hired out of that same pool of users – we pulled 4 support gurus right out of the forums and they became the first PBwiki Support Team.

As our business grew, we discovered two things:

Different users have different support expectations
Our first support team was a group of people who worked for PBwiki between classes, on weekends, and after their normal day jobs. And now, as we grow, we attract more people that require faster response times. Our goal to respond in a set frame of time meant hiring support gurus that can work exclusively for PBwiki. Here, for example, is one of the questions we use to screen the hundreds of applicants we get each month:

Continuing training is important
The second thing we learned is that technical expertise can be taught. The talent and depth of knowledge of our first set of support gurus is invaluable and irreplaceable. As we looked at hiring more support agents, we found that PBwiki experience was not a necessity, what we needed to focus on was hiring for some core values: professionalism, accuracy, speed, and personality. The technical experience can always be taught and learned (in fact, each support guru is encouraged to spend time each day exploring their own wikis).

When we launched our new Pages and Files release, each member of our Support and Sales team was given an opportunity to learn about the feature- and earn some extra cash. We posted a test on oDesk and gave a $25 bonus to any team member that passed with 90%. Here’s an example of a test question – it doesn’t need to be anything hard, just give your teams a chance to be familiar with the new releases:

Case Study: Support Guru Angie
One of our support gurus, Angie, is a great example of our hiring story. Angie applied to work with PBwiki having never used PBwiki. However, Angie possessed other skills that made her a great hire – her communication and responses to hiring emails were instantaneous and her personality shined right through. Angie also possessed another key quality- patience. As a stay-at-home mom to five children, Angie has lots of experience balancing multiple tasks and answering questions. Angie has been with PBwiki for just three months and has picked up all the technical ability to answer most PBwiki questions.

When Angie started with us, she was answering basic questions like how to log into a wiki or how to add an image – questions that could be easily answered by pointing to a section on the user manual, or sending step-by-step instructions. We saw that Angie was responding to people quickly and professionally, and we she asked for more hours at PBwiki, we were happy to give them to her! Before long, we saw Angie answering questions about custom CSS and advanced features. Angie had a personal wiki where replicated different scenarios to learn, fully understand questions, and build her skills.

The key takeaway is that PBwiki isn’t just offering its services to early adopters of technology. We’re offering our services to teachers, children, business people, and everyone in between. In order to connect with all these different users, our support gurus need to be able to understand their needs, their frustrations, and their situation before getting to the technical meat of the question. Our support team is a mix of these skills, and it’s been amazing to watch the support team members advance their skills and knowledge of our product.

3 Responses to “Hiring the Right Support Team”

  1. summer December 3, 2008 at 9:11 pm #


    can someone tell me is PBwiki a wiki engine? or a wiki farm?
    who host PBwiki?


  2. rachel December 4, 2008 at 2:17 pm #

    Hello Summer!

    PBwiki is a hosted wiki company. You can find more information about PBwiki here: http://pbwiki.com/content/about. I hope this helps!

  3. Martha April 6, 2012 at 12:47 am #

    Thank you.
    I would also like to gain more information about sites like oDesk mentioned in the article.
    As a freelancer, I was looking for evaluations of online marketplaces that connect sellers and buyers, in order to make up my mind.
    So far I have used http://www.peopleperhour.com/ and I’m quite pleased. But still, I want more information that my personal opinion.
    If there is a similar article, please, let me know.

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