Computer Customer Support Manager

Introduction

Computer customer support managers organise technical support and advice to customers after the sale of computer systems. The work involves resolving technical problems and making sure that customers can use their systems effectively. Customer support managers might write technical reports, manage a team of help desk staff and visit customers to install systems or demonstrate software.

Also known as

  • Technical Support Manager - Customer
  • IT Service Manager

Video: - Adam: Technical Manager

Work Activities

Once an organisation has decided to buy a computer system, customer support managers might travel to their business premises to help set up the hardware and/or to load and demonstrate software.

Customer support managers organise initial, and sometimes ongoing, technical support. For example, they have overall responsibility for providing customers with help and advice over the telephone, online or by email. They might also write fact sheets, manuals or training notes. They could be involved in drawing up and agreeing service level agreements for ongoing support to customers.

They also assess customers' needs, advising them if they need to buy additional equipment or software. They might need to liaise with sales staff, developers and suppliers.

They might be responsible for a team of support staff, including help desk operators.

If this is the case, an important aspect of their work is managing the staff and the resources of their section or department. These responsibilities are likely to include:

  • recruiting new staff
  • organising help desk and support rotas
  • monitoring the number and type of problems being reported
  • improving efficiency and customer service in the team
  • budgeting and forward planning
  • analysing the training needs of support staff
  • organising and (in some cases) delivering training
  • preparing management reports
  • reviewing the effectiveness of existing systems.

Some support managers provide day-to-day support themselves, particularly for more complicated support issues referred to them by their staff.

Customer support managers discuss serious or repeated support issues with production and technical managers to try to improve the quality of products and services.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

As a customer support manager, you'll need:

  • Good communication skills, to explain complicated ideas and information clearly and concisely.
  • Considerable technical IT knowledge and expertise.
  • Customer service skills.
  • Patience.
  • Writing skills to produce supporting literature for your customers.
  • Business skills.
  • Financial management skills for budgeting.
  • A clear voice and a friendly, helpful and professional telephone manner.
  • To be well organised.

You will need to be able to:

  • Understand the needs of the customer.
  • Develop new knowledge, and keep up to date with advances in technology.
  • Prioritise and delegate tasks.
  • Plan strategically.
  • Work as part of a team.
  • Travel to customer sites if necessary.

If you manage a team, you will need leadership skills. You will need to motivate and organise your staff.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

Salaries for computer customer support managers vary widely depending on the range of their responsibilities and the size and type of company they work for. The pay rates given below are approximate.

Salaries are in the range of £18,500 - £22,000 a year, rising to £27,500 - £40,000. Higher earners can make over £50,000 a year.

Salaries could include performance-related pay, profit share or company bonuses.

Hours of work

Customer aftersales support managers usually work 35-37 hours, Monday to Friday, but might take part in a 24-hour call-out system.

Where could I work?

Employers are manufacturers of computers and related equipment, computer dealers, software houses or information technology consultancies.

Opportunities for customer support managers occur in some towns and cities throughout the UK.

What's happening in this work area?

The IT industry is predicted to grow much faster than the rest of the UK workforce over the next decade. The recession has affected the IT industry, but overall it has emerged in a very strong position.

One reason for this strength is the realisation, by the global economy, of the importance of IT in helping businesses to survive the recession and economic downturn. Investment in technology is also viewed by many as a way for public bodies to become more efficient.

There is a shortage of candidates with IT skills and qualifications in the UK.

Future skills needsTechnical skills are highly important in this industry. However, employers have also highlighted the need for the following non-technical skills:

  • teamworking skills
  • good communication skills
  • business skills.

Self-employment

Some support managers work as self-employed consultants, or trade independently.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on specialist IT job boards and employers' websites, in computing magazines and professional journals, in local/national newspapers, on Universal Jobmatch and at Jobcentre Plus.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

Most computer customer support managers are graduates with experience in a related area, such as computer sales, technical support or systems analysis. In addition to computing courses, a few higher education courses offer technical or end-user support as their main focus.

However, a degree or HND is not always necessary - requirements vary between employers. Business and communication skills, and relevant experience, are as important as IT skills.

A number of universities offer the Information Technology Management for Business degree that has been jointly developed with major employers. Some universities and employers offer internships or student placements that develop business, communication and interpersonal skills.

It might be possible to gain promotion after experience as a help desk operator or service engineer, with further training.

Full-time and part-time foundation degrees are offered in various computing subjects.

Training

Many employers provide training. Programmes usually cover product and company knowledge, existing and potential customers' business needs, and selling and negotiating skills. Regular training is essential to keep up to date with technical developments and business skills.

Many customer support managers study part-time for further qualifications; for example, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT offers several professional certifications including IT Service Management certificates at ITIL Foundation, Specialist and ITIL Intermediate levels.

Progression

Progression to senior IT management posts could be possible after further experience.

Qualifications

Entry requirements vary. Computer customer support managers are usually experienced in a related area, such as help desk support, computer programming, IT sales or systems analysis. Many have a degree or HND. However, entry might be possible without these qualifications.

For entry to a relevant degree course, the usual requirement is:

  • 2/3 A levels
  • GCSEs at grade C or above in 2/3 other subjects.

You are likely to need English and Maths at GCSE grade C or above.

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • Edexcel (BTEC) Level 3 National qualifications
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

However, course requirements vary so check prospectuses carefully.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

Non-graduates with relevant skills in areas such as technical support, help desk work, computer sales or consultancy, can enter this career.

Experience as a team leader can be an advantage for entry into management-level posts. Other skills, (for example, in customer service) can also be useful.

Access courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course, for example, Access to IT/Computing, could be the way in.

These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Courses

For senior posts, taking the MBA (Master of Business Administration) is an advantage.

The Robert Gordon University offers an MSc in Information Technology Management, by distance learning. Other relevant MScs are available at a number of universities and colleges.

Statistics

  • 3% of people in occupations such as computer customer support manager are self-employed.
  • 12% work part-time.
  • 13% have flexible hours.

Further Information

Professional institutesProfessional institutes have the following roles:

  • To support their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

For more information on the institute(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.

The Tech Partnership

Skills for business and information technology

Address: 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR

Tel: 020 7963 8920

Email: info@e-skills.com

Website: www.e-skills.com

Inside Careers

Specialists in graduate careers

Address: Unit 6, The Quad, 49 Atalanta Street, Fulham, London SW6 6TU

Tel: 020 7565 7900

Website: www.insidecareers.co.uk

BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT

Address: First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA

Tel: 0845 3004417

Email: custsupport@bcs.uk

Website: www.bcs.org

Capita Learning and Development

Tel: 0800 0223410

Email: hello@capitalearning.co.uk

Website: www.capita-ld.co.uk

Big Ambition

Email: bigambition@e-skills.com

Website: www.bigambition.co.uk

Bring IT On

Irish enquiries

Website: www.bringitonni.info

Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS)

Address: Suite A, (Part) 2nd Floor, 3 White Oak Square, Swanley, Kent BR8 7AG

Tel: 0845 8500006

Email: central@imis.org.uk

Website: www.imis.org.uk/information/careers_information

Professional Issues in Information Technology

Author: Frank Bott Publisher: Chartered Institute for IT (BCS)

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