Understanding Technical Support Tiers

It’s easy to spot a solid support team when you see one – they’re few and far between these days. We’ve all heard the horror stories from customers – waiting on the other line for hours while a system is down, watching YouTube videos to attempt a self-diagnosis, and hanging up the phone after losing all hope in the support professional’s ability to help.

In a world full of frustrated customers, it’s more important now than ever to be the light at the end of the tunnel.

Doing so is not some form of wizardry – it’s actually quite simple. Using a tier system to structure your technical support team is easily the most organized, efficient, and cost-effective strategy, allowing you to not only better serve the customer – but successfully manage the lovely chaos that is technical support.

What Are Technical Support Tiers?

Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is a tier support system? You receive the same elementary questions – ones that are already outlined beautifully in the FAQs – on a daily basis. Other times, you receive requests that make you want to run and hide. Why not have: (Tier 1) your go-to guys for those basic, easy-fix issues, (Tier 2) experienced technicians for the more complex bugs and malfunctions, and (Tier 3) expert mentors for the highly unique issues or product defects.

Essentially, a Tier Support System is delegation at its finest.

Tier 1 Support

Tier 1 Support is a team that handles the first steps of the support process. They’re the ones who begin by verifying the customer’s license or account and confirming the customer’s issue (and whether it’s a tech issue or not).

Not a tech support issue? Tier 1 Support will simply redirect the customer to the right channel. But if it is in fact a tech issue, Tier 1 Support will ask clarifying questions to confirm the problem and start uncovering any related details that might aid in a resolution.

From there, Tier 1 Support focuses on troubleshooting with the knowledge they obtained from the initial questions. Unfortunately, not all customer concerns are as simple as answering a question about installation and setup, billing, or features. If Tier 1 is unable to resolve the issue, they’ll turn to Tier 2 Support – a team of more experienced technicians that serve as a resource to diagnose and resolve more unique issues or bugs.

Note: Some Tier Support Structures have both Tier 1 and Tier 2 in the same group.

Tier 2 Support

Tier 2 Support might look a bit different depending on how your organization is structured.

Sometimes, Tier 2 will interact with customers in the same way that Tier 1 does – asking them basic questions and troubleshooting. But this typically only happens if Tier 1 is crazy-busy.

In other models, Tier 2 is completely behind the scenes, serving as a resource for Tier 1 when they need help solving the customer’s initial request. Tier 1 will pull the infamous “Would you mind holding for a moment?” and call into Tier 2 Support to gain some insight on how to best solve the problem.

However, there is another structure that we’ve found to prove more beneficial for both the customer and the support organization. In this model, Tier 1 will transfer the support call to a Tier 2 technician, introducing the customer and the technician before completely exiting the conversation. While customers don’t love being transferred from one person to the next, the issue is likely to be resolved more quickly and smoothly when handled by a Tier 2 professional with a bit more experience, as well as access to additional resources.

In an ideal world, tech issues would never surpass Tier 2. But some defects and bugs have a mind of their own, so if a malfunction arises that is outside of the Tier 2 technician’s wheelhouse, Tier 3 will step in.

Tier 3 Support

If an issue escalates to Tier 3 Support, having your all-knowing, seasoned technicians in place to handle any storm that comes along will be a saving grace – for both Tier 2 Support and the customer.

To ensure the most timely and professional service, Tier 2 will place the customer on hold and call into Tier 3. Tier 2 will inform Tier 3 of all the details – the customer’s information, the symptoms behind the issue, and the steps that have been taken thus far towards a resolution.

Then, Tier 3 will guide the Tier 2 technician to fix the unique bug or defect, while Tier 2 checks back in with the customer until the issue is resolved. More often than not – Tier 3 does not communicate directly with the customer unless it is necessary to troubleshoot a particular issue.

Whether an issue stops at Tier 1 or Tier 3, we have found this model to be incredibly efficient and successfully resolve tech issues time and time again.

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If you own a product and are looking to revamp your support team, send us a message to learn how we can get you started with a Tier 1 Support team.

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