Providing the best IT support is crucial to improve customer and employee experience, as well as optimizing your help desk agents' time to make the most out of the resources your organization has. The foundation of this is to implement the five levels of IT support.
Wait, how come there are five of them? The short answer is that a tiered help desk support that is built on five different levels lets you divide your agents per experience, establish a clear escalation process to filter tickets according to the level, and offer self-service capabilities to diminish the number of issues submitted to the service desk.
Each level of IT help desk support will be assigned particular issues (from a simple password reset to debugging code) and need diverse areas of expertise. After all, you wouldn't expect a Junior employee to fix a whole server, would you? Conversely, a CEO would never be in charge of approving timecards. Let the right role perform the right duties.
If you're considering the implementation of a tiered IT support system, keep reading to find out:
- Benefits and challenges.
- The specifics of each tier.
- A set of best practices to pull this off.
Let's get started!
Why is IT support important?
The relevance of IT support lies in the fact that it provides technical assistance to end-users. Nowadays, organizations are crossed by technology in all its forms, and not all users are (or should be) capable of managing it end-to-end.
Thus, IT support constitutes the centralized place to go when employees or customers have any issues with the software, hardware, network equipment, telephony, and application support. In a nutshell, the area is in charge of maintaining the business operative and addressing (or even getting ahead of) issues to limit their impact to a minimum.
By implementing a tiered approach, you'll ensure:
- A centralized place to channel all IT requests.
- A dedicated team with an optimized workflow.
- Proactive Incident Management and Problem Management.
- Improved employee experience.
- Efficient Standard Operating Procedures.
- Service Level Agreement fulfillment.
- Trustable monitoring and reporting.
The 5 levels of IT support: description, duties, and skills
To implement several levels of support service, the first thing you need to do is have proper service desk software. Your ITSM tool will be essential to set up your service structure and escalation process, adjust user privileges, establish a ticketing process flow, and start working on the self-service alternatives.
So, make sure that your current solution enables you to do all these – or start looking for options to migrate to another service desk. If you don't have any, use our ITSM implementation checklist to guide you through the process.
Now, let's dive into the different IT support tiers.
Level 0 of IT support: self-service
- A self-service portal to allow end-user log their issues.
- A service catalog to direct users to service information.
- A knowledge base to share help, user guides, and how-to information with end-users.
The key aspect of this level is that there is little to no direct customer-to-employee interaction. In fact, a well-put-together tier 0 help desk support system ensures that simple fixes are within arm's reach for customers.
Level 0 solves issues such as password resets, hardware or software requests, non-urgent incidents log-in, and other most common help desk tickets that can be solved with knowledge base articles.
Level 1 of IT support: the first line of person-to-person contact
IT support level 1 is where personnel and support teams start to get directly involved in technical support tasks. Tier 1 is the employees' or end-users' first direct contact with the support team, so those in charge of assisting must be ready to fix these issues.
Generally, level 1 IT support responsibilities include:
- End-user tech support.
- User account management.
- Detection of potential major incidents and problems.
- Proactive maintenance and Incident Management.
- Patch Management.
- Software installation.
- Issue documentation and resolution steps.
First-level IT support staff members are skilled in both technical knowledge and customer service. Soft skills are particularly relevant for the role because they'll be the "face" of IT. Since they'll be in charge of most of the incoming requests, you can set up InvGate Service Desk's automatic ticket assignment rules to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.
Though most tickets are solved at this stage, agents should comprehend the limits of IT support level 1 to be able to filter tickets accurately and escalate them to tier 2 when necessary.
Level 2 of IT support: technical support
IT support level 2 is where things get a tad more complex, so you'll need more experienced help desk analysts.
Second-level IT support staff generally has strong technical skills to provide in-depth troubleshooting and backend support. Employees in this tier are usually much more knowledgeable of the company's tech stack, thus ensuring that the issues escalated from level 1 of IT tech support are dealt with accordingly and with a much more well-informed outlook.
The regular level 2 IT support responsibilities are:
- Troubleshooting incidents that couldn't be fixed in the previous level.
- Creating knowledge base articles to help users and tier 1 agents.
- Visiting the end-user if needed.
- Creating documentation of the issue and fixing attempts.
Since these are more experienced analysts, it's advisable to encourage them to share their knowledge with level 1 agents. You can do it by creating an internal knowledge base on InvGate Service Desk. This way, you can standardize processes and reinforce your training materials for new agents.
Lastly, as with the first level of technical support, tier 2 agents should also be trained on the escalation policy to assign more complex tickets to the next level in line.
Level 3 of IT support: expert support
IT support level 3 is the highest level in terms of IT support. Third-level IT support staff not only knows how the products and services of the company work but also has access to the highest level of technical resources.
They typically have the highest level of permissions and technical resources to create, maintain, and fix important elements that make up the structural integrity of apps and systems. Oftentimes, they can even participate in the creation of new software and hotfixes in networks, code, and other tools.
The regular level 3 IT support responsibilities include the following:
- Monitoring support queues to make sure that tickets are scaled appropriately.
- Troubleshooting incidents that couldn't be solved before.
- Providing knowledge base articles.
- Assisting in problem and major incident resolution.
- Documenting the issue and providing details on resolution attempts.
There are only a certain amount of tickets that can't be resolved at any of these levels of IT support. And that's what tier 4 is for.
Level 4 of IT support: third-party support
IT support level 4 is all about outside technical support provided but not supported by the company. This is the last tier of technical support, and its main purpose is to handle issues for outsourced services.
Fourth-level IT support staff consists of outside support teams that can come into the picture in two main situations:
- If you need to make use of a third-party vendor warranty.
- If your organization doesn't provide in-house support.
To set up support tier 4, you can employ ITSM best practices, in the form of Service Integration and Management (to manage outside providers), and ITIL (to ensure that vendors stick to the agreements in place and add value to your company).
How to set up a tiered help desk structure
Now that you know what help desk support tiers consist of, let's explore some best practices to set up the five levels of IT support.
- Choose the right ITSM platform - As we mentioned before, having the right tool makes all the difference. When choosing it, make sure that it's easy to implement, has an intuitive UX so that you don't need to train your agents, comes with ticket assignment and workflow automation, and has self-service capabilities. Or just go with InvGate Service Desk, which checks every item on the list and more!
- Build the level 0 - Set up your self-service portal, service catalog, and knowledge base. Once you have the three in place, customize them with your company information and start creating articles (you can use ChatGPT for that).
- Create your help desk hierarchy - Configure your service desk levels, assign agents, and design the ticketing routing and escalation process. When doing so, keep in mind your company's needs in terms of multi-site support and multiple SLA policy.
- Automate - Once the basics of the service desk are in place, it's time to build workflows, integrate the platform with other tools from your company's tech landscape, and start working smartly.
- Provide documentation - Create Standard Service Procedures, build an internal knowledge base, and document the processes within the IT department so everyone's on the same page and training future agents is easier.
- Measure and improve - The last basic step to implement a tiered help desk is to take advantage of InvGate Service Desk's reporting tools and measure your tiers' performance to spot room for improvement.
Organizing help desk support with a tiered structure is the smartest way to ensure that your IT team is working optimally. By establishing five levels of IT support, you can:
- Avoid receiving repetitive and easy-to-solve tickets.
- Filter most requests so that more experienced agents (those in levels 2 and 3) can focus on complex tasks that require specific knowledge.
- Create a culture of knowledge sharing and providing your team with career perspectives.
- Improve employee experience by offering suitable solutions to their problems in an efficient way.
In this sense, the five levels of IT support is a model to segment what needs to be done at each stage, as well as which capabilities your analysts should have to be able to cope with the work. And as with any model, now that you know the basics, you can start adapting it to your organization.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does help desk support do?
Help desk support provides individuals and businesses with technical assistance in IT-related activities. It often focuses on fixing software, hardware, and network problems. Ultimately, its goal is to provide users with confidence that their technology requirements can be efficiently met by reliable professionals.
What are the different levels of IT support?
IT support can be divided into five different levels, depending on the issues they handle and the professionals involved. These are:
- Level 0: self-service options (no human interaction).
- Level 1: first line support.
- Level 2: technical support.
- Level 3: expert support.
- Level 4: third-party support.
How to start a career in IT support?
Starting a career in IT support requires understanding the IT systems and processes, as well as making sure they are successful in the end-users environment. To get started, you can take some courses to gain basic knowledge of hardware and software, or acquire certifications such as A+, Network+, and Cisco CCNA Certification.
In addition, building up a portfolio of experiences through freelancing or voluntary work can also provide access to job openings that supplement this formal training.
What is remote IT support?
Remote IT support enables technical support staff to assist customers quickly and easily by connecting remotely with the customer's computer via a secure internet connection. The remote technician can troubleshoot the issue and can use tools such as remote control, chat, or email to help diagnose the problem and provide easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions on how to resolve the issue.
What is a critical aspect of working as an IT support professional?
Working as an IT support professional, approachability and effective communication are absolutely key. Furthermore, being able to respond quickly with helpful solutions is a must-have skill for any IT support professional. Lastly, make sure to keep up with the ever-changing trends in technology. This will help you to provide answers with confidence and stay one step ahead of potential problems.