Technical support tiers support explained

support

Objective: To share basic information about technical support tiers.

Audience: Anyone interested in information that can be used when structuring their support tiers or just interested.

All organizations provide support in a manner that works for them. There are many different variables to consider when structuring a support organization. Those are outside the scope of article but we would like to outline some of the basics of a tiered technical support structure.

Tier 1 Support

This group usually acts as the first line of communications for your customer when they reach out for technical support. This tier usually checks that the customer actaully has an account or license. This tier confirms whether the issue is actaully technical support related or not. If not, they direct the request to the proper channel. This tier clarifies the issue that is being reported and request any other symptoms that may help with this clarification.

Once that information has been gathered, this tier generally answers basic questions such as those that are already documented in the FAQ or knowledge base, if those resources are in place. If those resources are not in place or the questions are not answered there, this tier would initialize basic troubleshooting and attempt to resolve the issue. If they are unsuccessful in resolving the issue, this tier would escalated the issue to tier 2 support.

Some examples of the type of request that this group commonly handles are; feature request, billing, installation and setup, and customization.

Note: In some models, Tier 1 and Tier 2 are considered the same group.

Tier 2 Support

This group may at times act as the first line of communications for your customer if the team is busy. This tier usually receives a request from tier 1 support for additional assistance with resolving an issue. They already know that the customer has a valid account or license. They have clarification on the issue, the symptoms and what level of effort has already been attempted by the tier 1 technician.

In some support models, tier 2 will actually not work with the customer directly, instead, they will act as a guide or mentor for the tier 1 tech in the background and help tier 1 through to a solution. In this model, the tier 1 tech maintains the conversation with the customer but has to leave or place the customer on hold at times to engage with the tier 2 tech.

In other models, tier 2 will accept an introduction to the customer and an official handoff from tier 1 to tier 2 will happen. At which point tier 2 will own the conversation with the customer until the issue has been resolved by working directly with that customer. In my opinion, this offers the best customer experience. Although the customer is being transferred, which many customers do not like, they are placed in the hands of someone who is generally more experienced and has access to all of the resources that are required to resolve the primary issue and any others that may be discovered along the way.

Some examples of the type of request that this group commonly handles are; uncommon or unique issues, testing to replicate possible bugs, inquires that require responses from tenured troubleshooters.

Note: In some models, Tier 1 and Tier 2 are considered the same group.

Tier 3 Support

This group rarely acts as the first line of communications for your customer. This tier usually receives a request from tier 2 support for additional assistance with resolving an issue that is likely a defect or bug in the product. They already know that the customer has a valid account or license. They have clarification on the issue, the symptoms and what level of effort has already been attempted by the tier 1 and tier 2 technicians.

In most support models, tier 3 will actually not work with the customer directly, instead, they will act as a guide or mentor for the tier 2 tech in the background and help tier 2 through to a solution. In this model, the tier 2 tech maintains the conversation with the customer but has to leave or place the customer on hold at times to engage with the tier 2 tech. While it is rare for a tier 3 technician to engage with customers directly, it does happen and can at times be required to resolve unique issues that have been identified.

Some examples of the type of request that this group commonly handles are; uncommon or unique issues, bugs or product defects, new feature request.

We would like to hear any thought or ideas that you might have on how you structure your support team.

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