Tier 3 help desk is the fourth layer in the five levels of IT support. Its main goals are to solve complex incidents and be a key stakeholder in problem resolution and knowledge sharing.
Level 3 is typically the highest level of technical skill in the organization and involves roles such as server admins, network specialists, product engineers, and developers. Due to its high-level expertise, help desk agents at this level only engage with issues when the only way to resolve them is a design change, enhancement, or bug fix that requires a software or hardware update to the service.
But how do you know if your organization needs this support level? And how can you segment your escalation process? You’re about to find out!
What is a tier 3 help desk?
Tier 3 is the highest IT support level available within the organization. To be able to provide support at this level, tier 3 support analysts need to know the company products and services in their remit inside and out and have the highest level of permissions and technical resources.
A key tenet of tier 3 support is maintaining, repairing, and restoring the components of IT services. Put simply, it comprises developers, server admins, and network specialists who have the knowledge and power to create new software in response to defects and bugs, troubleshoot complex hardware issues, and deploy hotfixes in network services consisting of highly specialized support SMEs.
What does a tier 3 help desk do?
In a nutshell, the third level of technical support is in charge of:
- Monitoring support queues to ensure incidents have been escalated appropriately and have the correct level of detail captured.
- Troubleshooting incidents that cannot be resolved by tier 2, either because they don’t have the necessary skills or privileges.
- Providing knowledge articles and technical articles for other support tiers.
- Providing closure details.
- Acting as key players in problem and major incident resolution as they are subject matter experts in the technology and services they support.
- Capturing further details and documenting recovery attempts before escalating to level 4 of IT support.
Benefits of having a support tier 3
The benefits of having a support 3 in place include:
- Acting as a senior point of escalation for the most challenging incidents.
- Having the permissions and resources in place to create new solutions, for example, code fixes for applications and hotfixes for network equipment.
- A sense of ownership “the buck stops with them.”
What's the difference between tier 2 and tier 3 of help desk support?
If we oppose tier 2 vs. tier 3 of IT support, we can quickly see that second-line support acts as an escalation point from tier 1 and is responsible for the more complicated issues that require detailed troubleshooting and potentially specialized resources. They are sometimes called “help desk 2” because they are the second line of defense to the help desk – a kind of safety net that catches complex issues that might need to be resolved in person.
In contrast, tier 3 is there for the most complicated issues, and its agents need specific technical skills to be able to solve them. Typical third-line support incidents include network support, server admin tasks, or code fixes – none of which can be fixed at tier 1 or 2 levels.
Help desk technician tier 3
As we mentioned above, a good tier 3 technician is a subject matter expert in their field. Moreover, they should have a proven track record in providing technical support and experience across all tiers.
Help desk tier 3 responsibilities
Help desk tier 3 responsibilities include:
- Monitoring the tier 3 support queue and evaluating the incidents logged to ensure they are correctly prioritized and assigned to appropriate support resources for the fastest possible resolution.
- Providing feedback on incidents that are missing information or that have been misassigned.
- Managing the tier 3 support inbox and collaboration workspaces.
- Managing the appropriate databases, applications, servers, or network ecosystems.
- Maintaining the support environment for building and maintaining test environments and development spaces.
- Offering proactive support through event management and other monitoring activities.
Help desk tier 3 skills
If you were to seek server and network administrators, make sure to look for the following background and skills:
- A solid amount of industry experience (for example, 3+ years).
- Strong analytical, problem-solving, and conceptual skills, and the ability to own a technical task and work it to completion.
- Proven subject matter expertise in the relevant support area.
- Appropriate industry qualifications.
When to scale tickets to tier 4
Though level 3 of IT tech support will solve a considerable number of issues that require its expertise, they might not be able to close them all. And that’s where the fourth and last level enters the picture.
You’ll need to scale tickets to tier 4 when:
- The issue is so complex or expensive that it cannot be fixed at the tier 3 stage.
- The product is covered by a warranty that specifies that it must be returned for analysis to the third-party vendor.
- A specific supplier or vendor needs to address the issue (which is what happens in most cases).
Tier 3 support is the final layer of internal support offering. Since tickets that reach this stage are too complex to be solved by lower levels of IT support, its personnel must be highly trained in technical skills to be able to thrive.
Subject matter experts at this stage usually perform diagnosing, resolve complex issues through tried and trusted support activities, or create new solutions if the issue hasn't been encountered before. And if they need third-party support, it’s their responsibility to escalate the issue to third-party vendors.
But that’s not the only role tier 3 help desk technicians have. Due to their expertise, they also answer questions and create knowledge base articles to help tiers 1 and 2.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many people should I have on tier 3?
Tier 3 support personnel are highly skilled, so there should be fewer tier 3 colleagues than tier 1 and 2.
What measurements, KPIs, or other reports would be helpful for tier 3?
Some good starting measurements for tier 3 would be the fix rate vs. escalation rate, speed of response after the ticket has escalated from tier 2, ticket backlogs, average resolution times, and customer satisfaction rate.
What kind of training or certifications would be helpful to tier 3?
Advantageous qualifications depend on the areas of specialism. For example, a server admin would need Microsoft server role-based qualifications, or a network admin would look at the Cisco qualification path.