March 25, 2022
Software Development Outsourcing
IT Support levels: 4 layers to address technology issues
When a company has trouble with its technological platform, it requires services at different IT Support levels. These levels are organized to attend and solve problems ranging from the simplest to the most complex.
This article aims to explain what IT Support refers to and its importance for companies. Then, it will specify what IT Support levels are, their services, and the investment they imply for organizations.
What is IT technical Support?
IT Support refers to the services that are provided to solve problems associated with the use of technology or information.
IT specialists form a technical support team that assists norms and standards (ITIL, ISO, COBIT, among others). They also use tools to diagnose hardware or software problems, develop solutions, and document them (Da Silva, 2020).
IT Support levels: A necessary investment
Many companies may be tempted to perform IT service management (ITSM) without having the right equipment and methodology. This decision can be risky, especially if troubleshooting involves more resources than necessary.
The alternative is to have specialized IT Support, which also shows its importance when challenges arise with the expansion of your company, for example (Bauer, 2021):
- Increase in the number of support requests or tickets.
- Increased complexity in employee or customer inquiries.
- Loss of agility in attending to problems.
- Overload of agents who usually solve problems.
As the requirements that may arise include other cases, a tiered support system is defined. Depending on the source consulted, this support is organized into three, four, or even five layers (Da Silva, 2021).
Now, we are going to explain the characteristics of the IT Support levels for a four-layer structure:
Tier 0 (Tier 0) Support
Level 0 or layer 0 (L0) is recognized as self-service in standards such as ITIL. It is a self-help level where the information retrieval to attend to the incidents is done directly by the user.
These are some of the benefits obtained in this layer of IT Support levels (Mann, 2017):
- Access to information that allows the user to solve a problem themselves (e.g., “how-to” guides or YouTube videos).
- Requesting new IT services.
- Querying the status of an incident or request.
- Access to communities, forums, and other peer-to-peer support mechanisms.
- Automatic and instant software downloads.
At layer 0 the interaction is generally established with a help desk, chatbot, or a service counter. There is little or no interaction with human personnel (Brahmachary, 2019).
Tier 1 Support (Tier 1)
Tier 1 is the initial level where basic user or customer issues are addressed. These are examples of Tier 1 services and support (Bauer, 2021)
- Simple and frequent queries.
- Questions related to the operation of products or services.
- Help with setting up user accounts.
- Queries about usage problems that can be answered quickly.
- Response to requests received through e-mail, websites, or social networks (Córdova, 2022).
Solutions developed to address requirements at this level are recorded on “frequently asked questions” web pages or in a knowledge base.
The staff that attends level 1, also called help desk 1, is trained to solve known problems. Requests are handled by customer support scripts in services that are generally available 24 hours a day.
This first line of Support also uses a service counter, a single point of communication to service and access IT Support levels. When a technician at this level cannot solve a problem, it is escalated to level 2, and a follow-up ticket is opened (Bauer, 2021).
Tier 2 Support
Problems that reach Tier of IT Support levels require more knowledgeable agents. For example, here are some issues that are addressed at Tier 2 (Bauer, 2021):
- Add-on customization.
- Optimization of interaction or communication between add-on products.
- Revision of the design, code, or specifications of a product.
- Configuration of hardware and software (focused on customer service).
Layer 2 IT Support is provided by experienced and knowledgeable technicians who evaluate problems and provide solutions. They use strategies such as duplicating layer 1 issues, analyzing them, defining the causes, and documenting the solution (Córdova, 2022).
Tier 3 Support
This tier requires agents who have the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience to deal with complex incidents. The most difficult problems are handled by specialists involved in product or service development.
These are some examples of situations that are addressed in Tier 3 of IT Support levels (Bauer, 2021):
- Unique problems that have not been encountered before and whose solution may require new products or infrastructure.
- Requirements that need to be sent to the software development team (when necessary).
- Testing of fixes implemented by the development team before being implemented with users.
The problem-solving of level 3 support issues may require developing updates to the software products.
Costs of contracting IT Support levels
It may be believed that IT services are very costly. However, the investment depends on several factors and the needs of your business:
- Not all requirements involve attending to incidents and problems at all IT Support levels.
- It is possible to deploy the service using online support or a face-to-face one instead. In face-to-face support, you can count on an IT support team closer to your cultural characteristics (Nearshoring Staff).
- In some cases, it is convenient to hire a support team (Support Teams) to keep your infrastructure running.
Since many companies would choose to subcontract this service, it is natural to ask how much they should pay.
There is no straightforward answer, as fees vary according to:
- Experience and expertise of the support staff.
- Location of the outsourcing company.
- Roles and reach of activities.
As a reference, ITIL identifies several categories in IT service operations management: access manager, event manager, incident manager, IT facilities manager, IT operations manager, or problem manager.
Roles attending IT Support levels
In turn, professionals in this area are hired under profiles that vary in level, experience, and activities:
- Help Desk Assistant.
- IT Support Assistant.
- IT Support Analyst (Junior, Senior, etc.).
- Also, IT Support Technician.
- IT Support Specialist.
- IT Services Support Engineer.
Given various factors, the supplier company and the client usually negotiate the terms and conditions of the contract depending on the needs. For this purpose, a document called Service Level Agreement (SLA) is defined. Within the framework of this agreement, measurable and verifiable metrics are also defined as part of the Service-Level Objective (SLO) (Hilton, 2021).
Having a technical support team is, above all, an investment. It allows you to have a group of professionals ready to implement efficient solutions at different IT Support levels.
The objective is to have a platform with efficient answers and solutions. Responding adequately to frequent problems or unexpected situations increases your quality of service and customer satisfaction.