What's required for a role in technical support?

It takes some time (several years) to build up comprehensive lab experience. With this valuable training behind you (and largely only that is necessary), there are opportunities to work for biotechnology companies and help other researchers use the company’s products successfully. In technical support you may have to answer technical enquiries such as:

“Can I use this product under conditions different from those specified on its data sheet?”

or

“Do you have additional data regarding the specificity of this antibody?”

You will also help troubleshoot products, give general experimental guidance, and resolve complaints about products.

As you might expect, different companies produce different products and therefore need people with different areas of expertise in technical support positions. When applying for technical support positions, you should try to match your expertise with that of the company. To increase your chances at successfully applying for a position, you should familiarize yourself with technical support. Even having personal experience with technical support through the customer’s perspective is good. If you’ve never participated in a customer support conversation, just go ahead and contact a technical support team with a question or two that open a dialogue. This will give you a feeling of what might be involved in such a role. In addition, it can be advantageous to speak multiple languages - that makes communication with customers from around the world easier. You should also demonstrate a strong willingness to help others with their problems, a general positive attitude, and an open-minded personality.

These traits will help you deal with any incoming requests or problems - there is considerable diversity in the types of questions customers ask, and there are also differences in customers’ personalities and their expectations. If you are willing to listen to a customer’s concerns and are patient enough to find the real issue, you will do well in technical support roles.

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