Application Support Engineers are an often under-appreciated role in the IT industry. Not only do good Application Support Engineers need to be adept in many different coding languages and operating systems, they also have to be able to interpret the often-cryptic instructions they receive from customers, deal with exasperatingly long support calls, and generally keep their cool in otherwise stressful scenarios. But not everybody is up to the task of dealing with clients in times of emergency and solving potentially complex problems on-the-fly – so what are the traits that set good Application Support Engineers apart from the rest?
Your technical know-how should always be kept in check.
To be a good Application Support Engineer, it’s vital to understand the technical ins and outs of the platforms you work with thoroughly so that you can easily understand what your customers are referring to when they call in for support and explain solutions quickly and simply. As Albert Einstein put it, Ïf you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Depending on the type of company you work with, the programs and platforms you’ll need to familiarise yourself with may vary. In networking, you’ll often have to debug code on the fly and be comfortable with bashing out scripts in a short time, so being coding fit is a definite advantage. You’ll also be updating and patching clients frequently to bring in code fixes, as well as configuring and optimising systems to best suit the client’s needs.
Interpersonal skills are important too – like it or not.
An unfortunate fact of life is that there will always be people who are difficult to deal with. The IT industry is no exception in this regard. Developing good interpersonal skills and an appropriate professional etiquette is especially important for Application Support Engineers, not only for the sake of being easier to work with, but to be able to deal with uncooperative customers on long and exhausting support calls. Remember, you’re providing a service to your client, not the other way around. Managing expectations is key here: be realistic with what you promise your client in terms of turnaround time, but also remember that you have Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to stick to. Clients can often get impatient and difficult if they feel the service they’re paying for is being compromised, so make sure to apologise and assure them that your team is working on resolving the issue as quickly as possible.
Flexibility is key to being a good Application Support Engineer
To meet the demands of your client, especially when it often seems your client doesn’t know what their demands are themselves, you need to remain as flexible as possible. Being able to hand over one support ticket and move on to an urgent request at a moments’ notice, adapting to a system you’re unfamiliar with, applying a fix in an impossibly short amount of time are all par for the course when it comes to Application Support Engineering. In essence, you need to be an IT-MacGyver – capable of responding to any threat, armed with nothing but your own intellect and powers of deduction.
Iris provides Network Management Systems and support to some of South Africa’s biggest businesses. If you are passionate about networking and think you’d make a good fit in the IRIS offices, have a look at our website or apply for a position at IRIS here. You can also find out more about IRIS’ unique take on Network Management Systems on our product page.To find out what it’s like to work as an Application Support manager at Iris, and if you’d like to apply for a position, please contact us to find out more.