Support Engineer Responsibilities and Qualifications

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 14, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Businesses that sell complex products often receive many phone calls from customers asking for support and guidance on how to use them or how to solve a technical difficulty. Companies often hire support engineers to receive these calls, provide customer support, and make the products more user-friendly. Knowing about the responsibilities of support engineers can help you decide if this career might be a good fit for you. In this article, we explain what support engineer responsibilities are, share some examples, discuss the qualifications for this role, and explore some important skills for successful support engineers.

What are support engineer responsibilities?

Many support engineer responsibilities involve addressing customer questions and concerns about a company's products. Support engineers, or technical support engineers, answer customer phone calls and help them by troubleshooting technical problems. They may also address internal queries or critiques. Various departments within a company, such as manufacturing, sales, and operations, may have issues they bring to support engineers to solve.

Support engineers work in many industries, including health care, information technology (IT), and telecommunications. Successful support engineers have expert knowledge of the products the company develops and manufactures. They find solutions to fix problems in certain products and help customers understand how to use them.

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Examples of support engineer responsibilities

Support engineer duties vary depending on their industry and on their experience level. They may manage different tasks as they work to resolve technical difficulties and fix products. The following are some common examples of support engineer duties:

Providing customer support

Interacting with customers is a significant part of many support engineers' jobs. Support engineers answer customer phone calls, respond to their e-mails, and chat with them on the company's website instant messaging system. The purpose of these interactions is to provide technical support, help a customer fix a malfunctioning product, or instruct them on how to use a working product. This can involve providing a step-by-step guide on how to use a particular product or resolve a problem.

Related: 8 Types of Customer Service from Which You Can Choose

Managing and processing customer orders

Support engineers aren't sales professionals, but they often process customer orders. This may involve altering an order depending on the type of interaction they have with the customer and the issue they're experiencing. For example, a support engineer working for a telecommunications company may have the authorization and responsibility of issuing customers partial refunds if their service fails temporarily or doesn't work as intended.

Related: What Does a Solution Engineer Do? (With Tips to Succeed)

Researching technical issues

Listening to customers is only one way that support engineers learn of technical problems. Many support engineers actively search for technical issues and try to anticipate future problems. They may also research competitors' products to see what they can learn from them. By conducting these investigations, they advance their product knowledge and help improve future technical support.

Related: How to Become a Certified Quality Engineer (With Steps)

Filing problem reports

Once a support engineer learns of a problem or technical difficulty, they file a report. They might log this as customer feedback if the information comes from an interaction with a customer or categorize it more technically if they discovered the problem through their own research. An efficient filing system allows other support engineers and developers to reference past problems so they can learn about solutions and preventative measures. They also provide a useful guide for helping customers resolve issues they've encountered. Support engineers also report product defects and may offer suggestions for improvements.

Related: What Is Sales Support? (With Definition and Benefits)

Reviewing product change requests

A support engineer may also be responsible for reviewing and approving product change requests. These may come from the developers or designers within the company who want to know if their changes can solve problems customers have been having or if they might cause problems in the future. It's also important for support engineers to learn about product updates and new technologies. This means that they stay knowledgeable about the company's products and competitors' products.

Related: How to Become a Product Design Engineer (With Average Salary)

Taking part in product improvement

Companies often invite their support engineers to collaborate with product designers and developers to update and improve their products. Support engineers may participate in brainstorming sessions to discuss some of the most frequent complaints and questions they receive from customers. For example, if a company that makes electronic devices receives many calls from customers who have trouble identifying a device's compatibility with their mobile device, a support engineer can mention this in a product improvement session. This allows the developers and designers to determine whether to focus on compatibility issues when preparing the next product update.

Training and mentoring other support engineers

One of the best ways for support engineers to learn how to do their job is to receive training and shadow more experienced support engineers. Senior support engineers can show new hires how they assist customers with their common problems and how they teach them to use the products. This provides new support staff members with an idea of what the most common customer questions and comments are and gives them examples of how to help customers with those issues.

Support engineer qualifications

To work as a support engineer requires first earning at least a bachelor's degree, but beyond that, there aren't any universal mandatory requirements. Different employers have their own list of qualifications for which they look for in a candidate, and the educational requirements for support engineers can change a lot depending on the business and the industry. For example, software companies often look for candidates with a bachelor's degree in computer science or computer engineering.

Some employers place more emphasis on a candidate's professional experience. Hiring managers often review candidates' resumes and cover letters for specific skills. For example, many employers value support engineers with strong communication skills. These professionals communicate regularly with other departments within the company and with customers, so being able to do so effectively and professionally is key. Other helpful skills include customer service troubleshooting, problem solving, and analytical thinking. Having a comprehensive knowledge of the company's products and being able to learn about new technologies quickly is also beneficial.

Related: Essential Product Engineer Resume Skills (With Examples)

Support engineer skills

Some important support engineer skills you can develop to excel in this role include:

Technical skills

Successful support engineers have both hard and soft skills. Hard skills, or technical skills, are industry specific, and support engineers frequently learn them through on-the-job training or industry-specific courses. Hard skills involve knowing how a company's product works and broader IT and computer programming knowledge, such as different coding languages. Depending on the company and the specific job, support engineers need experience working with different software, hardware, programs, systems, and web-based applications.

Related: The Most Important Engineer Skills for Your Resume

Communication

One of the most important soft skills is communication. Being able to communicate technical solutions to colleagues, especially to customers who don't have an IT or computer programming background, is necessary for a successful support engineer. Equally important to speaking is listening. Customers may have unique ways of explaining their technical issues, so it's important to listen carefully to understand the problem and provide the most suitable solution.

Patience

Patience is often very important for support engineers. Because they are often technology and computer experts, they receive many calls about problems that seem simple to them. It's important for support engineers to remember that customers rarely have the same knowledge and experience, so they may require help with something that seems basic to a support engineer. Customers may also have difficulty articulating the problems they've been having, so patience and active listening are key. Giving frustrated customers troubleshooting advice is easier to do when the support engineer conveys patience, understanding, and empathy.

Problem solving

Problem solving often occupies most of a support engineer's time. Listening carefully, taking appropriate notes, diagnosing a customer's problem, and offering an effective solution are essential to successful interaction with a customer. Attention to detail, organized record keeping, and troubleshooting are all important aspects of effective problem solving.

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