The Four Tiers of Tech Support

Four tiers of building blocksThe most efficient and effective tech support teams use what’s known as a “tiered support” model.

If you spend enough time in tech circles, you’ll probably encounter the term “tiered support.” In broad terms, this refers to how help desks and support centers are organized so as to resolve incoming service requests efficiently and effectively. The model is widely used by internal help desks that serve employees and by customer-facing support centers.

The support that these help desks provide is often categorized in tiers or service levels, which keeps help tickets organized according to severity or complexity. This allows for simple requests to be resolved quickly and prevents serious issues from backing up the workflow pipeline. The majority of tech support structures are comprised of four tiers, each indicating a different level of service. In case you aren’t familiar, or if you need a quick refresher, here’s how each tier works:

Tier 1

The first tier refers to the most basic, general support provided to employees or customers. This includes information that you’d expect to find on FAQ pages (which, in some tier structures, is actually referred to as Tier 0).

Support technicians who provide Tier 1 service address relatively simple and straightforward problems using a broad, generalist knowledge base to identify the end user’s needs and resolve or manage the user’s issue. Tasks can include resetting passwords, verifying hardware and software setups, and helping users navigate new applications and menus.

If Tier 1 support isn’t able to resolve the end user’s issue, the support technician will classify the problem and escalate it to Tier 2, which often involves sending a tracking ticket to the customer or employee.

Tier 2

The second tier of tech support requires technicians with a specialized body of knowledge. There are far fewer Tier 2 specialists than Tier 1 technicians, and they often act as support for Tier 1 issues, using advanced technical troubleshooting and analysis methods to resolve issues before they need to be escalated to Tier 3.

When a support ticket reaches Tier 2, the specialists will first determine whether the problem is new or existing. Existing problems tend to have documentation indicating how to resolve the problem, whereas new problems require analysis before they can be fixed. If the Tier 2 specialist is unable to fix the issue, the problem is escalated to Tier 3.

Both Tiers 1 and 2 require good customer service skills in addition to technical knowledge.

Tier 3

Tier 3 support consists of technical and application support teams, which often include the specialists involved in a product’s initial research and development. In many cases, Tier 3 support exists independently of help desk and support centers, and is made up of multiple teams of subject matter experts who focus on either the technical side (such as the database, network, or web teams) or the application side (such as the financial apps team or office apps team) of an issue.

These teams often work on other infrastructure-related projects, from design to application development, and are responsible for expediently developing courses of action and testing them before delivering the solution to the issue back to the customer or end user. Once delivered, the solution will still be made available for troubleshooting and analysis to ensure that it functions as intended.

Tier 4

While not used across the board — some tiered support models only count three levels — Tier 4 refers to vendor support. This means that if a particular piece of software or hardware is consistently causing issues, the publisher or manufacturer will be contacted to address the bug or flaw.

Tier 4 teams will have exact knowledge of the product in question. However, because this tier requires so many levels of escalation and involves external parties, it is fairly uncommon.

The Support You Need

Epiphany Management Group provides high-quality Tier 1 and Tier 2 tech support to a variety of customers, including healthcare device companies, governments, and enterprises. We’re proud to offer 24x7x365 HIPAA-compliant and multilingual remote tech support, flexible user training sessions, and end-to-end device lifecycle management services.

To learn more about how we can contribute to the success of your project rollouts, contact us today.

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