WordPress Experience Not Required – How to Find The Right Support Tech

This is a question that I get quite often from friends of mine in the WordPress space.  Several of them have businesses teetering on the edge of needing help to maintain their current customer base while simultaneously working on growing their products and business.

We got an interesting reaction on Twitter a few days ago when we announced that we’ve never hired anyone at The WP Ninjas with WordPress experience. This has been true for every hire from development, to support, to marketing.  In every instance, this has worked out phenomenally, adding very little friction to our on-boarding process into the company…even my own.

Instead, we hire primarily for a set of qualities that we believe are key to getting the right people in our support roles.  According to Gino Wickman in his book Traction, to have the right people in the right seats every person must meet three criteria (called the GWC):

  1. Get it – They understand the overarching goal and strategy of your organization (and applicable seat), and are on board with your vision.
  2. Want it – They want to be a part of your team, they have a drive and vision of their own for the seat, and they truly want to be there.
  3. Capacity to do it – They have the knowledge, wisdom, and skills needed to complete the functions the job requires.

For individuals we are going to trust with direct interactions with our users, each of these criteria has a more specific definition.

Get It

In customer service, people who “get it” understand that the customers needs come first.  They enjoy the challenge of angry users and get a kick out of turning a vocal critic into a vocal advocate.  They can look at your product with fresh eyes and see the UI/UX issues that you’ve become too jaded to realize are there.  They’re empathetic to the struggles that users face.  They are capable of venting about difficult users without building a disdain for them. They get excited about coaching, learning, and training others in the skills they have learned. They’ve likely worked in customer service before and are excited about the opportunity to do it again.

Want It

People who want it show a passion and a desire to learn.  These are people who love customer service and don’t feel limited by it.  For them, customer service isn’t just a stepping stone for something else.  They’re genuinely excited about the idea of representing you and your brand with your users.  This person never just emails a resume with no follow up.  You’ll hear from them often until you’re able to engage them about the position, and those communications will include excitement about the subject matter of the job, not just a job in general.

Capacity to Do It

Technical experience isn’t strictly required, but aptitude is.  People with the “capacity to do it” in our space are the kinds of people who might never have used WordPress before, but the idea of installing a local server on their computer and experimenting isn’t an intimidating prospect.  They have excellent written communications skills (in addition to supporting users, they’re often responsible for creating and maintaining documentation as well), and they’ve got some experience with technical writing.  These individuals have the ability to break down complex ideas into smaller, bite sized chunks not only for their own learning but to help teach others.

The idea of GWC has been really invaluable to us at The WP Ninjas, and I strongly recommend looking into it more for your organization.  It’s a surprisingly great metric not only for hiring, but evaluating individuals that you might already be partnering with.  For us, it’s the foundation for the rest of our hiring process.  If a candidate doesn’t meet every GWC criteria, they’re not even considered.

What are your thoughts?  What is your screening criteria for potential candidates?  I’ll talk more about interviewing in a later post, but I would love to know more about your processes or any questions you might have about ours (or the GWC).  Hit me up here or on Twitter!

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