IT Support Tiers Explained

 

Effective IT support is a key ingredient to building a successful business.

As George Terrone, Co-Founder of ITSco says, “A robust IT support infrastructure is an often overlooked driver of employee productivity and business profitability.

A well-planned and executed system of IT support tiers can help drive the efficiency you’ve been missing. This tiered support structure is not a new concept; in fact, it has proven its effectiveness for more than 30 years.

Each support tier focuses on certain types of tasks, from easy ones like password resets to tough ones like fixing application errors.

Think about it: You wouldn’t ask a new hire to tackle a major server issue, right? And you wouldn’t want your top tech expert bogged down with basic day-to-day chores either. The right person should handle the right job.

If you’re thinking about setting up a tiered IT support system, keep reading to learn how to structure it and why it’s a good idea.

 

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What Are IT Support Tiers?

IT Support Tiers are essentially levels of expertise and responsibility in an organization’s support structure. These tiers help to streamline customer service by assigning various technical issues to support agents according to their skill levels.

 

Tier 0: Self-Service and Automated Solutions

Before you even reach a human agent, there’s Tier 0, the foundational level of the support structure. This tier is automated and allows users to resolve common issues themselves without needing to contact a support agent.

Tier 0 is usually made up of a knowledge base, FAQs, and automated solutions like chatbots or automated phone systems. These resources aim to empower users to solve basic issues such as account lockouts, password resets, or straightforward problems through guided solutions.

 

Tier 1: Basic Customer Service

Tier 1 is your first point of contact. Agents in this tier often handle general inquiries and straightforward issues.

They have a knowledge base to refer to and can solve basic user problems like password resets. If they cannot resolve your issue, they will understand how to escalated your problem to the appropriate resources at a higher level of support.

 

What Is the Difference Between Different IT Support Tiers

Source: Sketch Bubble

 

Tier 2: Advanced Technical Solutions

After crossing the initial layer, you will find level 2 support, where support personnel are equipped to handle more complex problems.

Agents in this tier are still “generalists”, but they have more advanced training than Tier 1 resources, and have access to more comprehensive resources so that they can tackle issues that Tier 1 cannot solve. They also know how to identify and triage problems that are beyond their skills so that they can be quickly escalated to more specialized engineering resources.

 

Tier 3: Expert-Level Support

These are the high-level experts, capable of resolving the most advanced technical problems. If you’re dealing with an issue that requires specialized technical knowledge or affects products and services on a broader scale, level 3 support is where the solution lies.

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Tier 4: External Support

This level is typically reserved for issues that are so specialized or complex that they cannot be resolved internally. In Tier 4, external vendors or subject matter experts are brought into the equation.

These are highly specialized professionals who often work hand-in-hand with level 3 engineers dealing with issues related to specific software, hardware, or other specialized technology. They may also tackle issues that require a deep dive into the system architecture or alterations at the code level.

 

What Is the Difference Between Different IT Support Tiers?

While the fundamental differences between the tiers of IT support lie in the level of technical expertise, there are other distinctions:

  • Level of interaction: Tier 1 often handles a larger volume of simpler queries, while Tier 3 deals with fewer but more complicated issues.
  • Speed of Service: Because Tier 1 agents are dealing with simpler issues, the support staff can usually resolve them quickly. However, the more complex the problem, the longer it may take to find a solution.
  • Resources: As you move up the support tiers, agents have more advanced tools and greater access to internal support systems.
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Tiers of IT Support & Their Importance

The various tiers of IT support are essential for multiple reasons. Firstly, they ensure that customer experience remains top-notch by efficiently resolving issues.

20% of customers consider the difficulty in reaching a live human agent as the most frustrating part of contacting a business for support. This highlights the need for having different tiers to quickly direct customer queries to the right agents, thereby reducing wait times.

Secondly, this division of duties makes optimal use of support personnel, ensuring that complex issues are quickly escalated to staff with the appropriate skill set.

This tiered system also facilitates a better customer support system by segregating issues based on their severity and complexity, thereby speeding up resolution times.

 

IT Support Tiers Explained

Source: HDI Research Corner

 

Benefits of IT Technical Support Tiers

 

  1. It ensures a more efficient and more organized service desk, improves customer service, and reduces downtime.
  2. It also helps in optimal allocation of support staff, ensuring that technical problems are resolved by personnel with the most suitable skill set.
  3. The tiered structure helps in better management of the product and service support, ultimately leading to enhanced customer experience.

 

Choosing a Tier For Your Organization’s Support Team

If you are contemplating how to structure the technical support team for your organization, several considerations are worth noting:

  • Assess the range and types of technical issues your organization encounters. This will help you in deciding the number of tiers you need.
  • Always have a well-documented knowledge base, so that the lower tiers can resolve issues without escalating them unnecessarily.
  • Examine your support systems to identify any inefficiencies that can be rectified with a tiered approach. Don’t forget to evaluate the skill set of your current support personnel, to place them appropriately in the tiered system.
  • If your organization has an IT department but isn’t big enough to hire all the skill sets needed to support your business, consider a hybrid approach by partnering with an MSP that can provide the missing pieces by seamlessly integrating with your internal resources.
  • If your organization doesn’t have or doesn’t want an internal IT department, partner with an MSP that can provide all the tiers and resources you need to support your business goals.
Factors to Consider Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
Response Time Fast Fast-to-Moderate Moderate Vendor Dependent
Skill Level Basic Intermediate Advanced Specialized
Issue Complexity Low Moderate High Vendor Specific
Tools & Resources Need Few Some Many Specialized

 

Unlock the Full Potential of IT Support With ITSco

Choosing the right IT support structure can be a game-changer for your organization. Whether it’s basic troubleshooting or tackling complex technical issues, a tiered IT support system ensures that the right people are doing the right tasks.

And if you’re seeking a comprehensive solution, look no further than ITSco. Catering to small and midsize organizations, ITSco is an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP), and a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) that has been successfully serving a wide variety of businesses for over 25 years.

Learn More About Our IT Support Services Near You:

From Tier 1 and 2 service desk engineers, to tier 3 network and systems engineering and cyber security services, ITSco offers a full range of technical expertise.

If you’re in search of a reliable partner that gives you full coverage across all IT support tiers, ITSco is the answer. Contact us for a free consultation and see what sets us apart.

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