IT Support Levels Clearly Explained: L1, L2, L3, and more

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IT Support Levels Explained

Being an IT service management provider, customers often ask us what the various flavors of IT Support tiers are and how they can use them in organizing their Help Desks and Service Desks.

IT support levels and support tiers are phrases used interchangeably within IT organizations.

With some variations, a typical IT Support infrastructure is usually organized around the following support tiers.

IT Support Level Function Support methodology Staffing needs

Tier 0

Self-help and user-retrieved information

Users retrieve support information from Web- and mobile-pages or apps, including FAQs, detailed product and technical information, blog posts, manuals, and search functions.

Users also use apps to access service catalogs where they can request and receive services without involving the IT staff.

Email, Web forms, and social contact methods such as Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are used to send questions and requests to upper support tiers or company personnel.

Customer forums allow users to crowdsource solutions, usually without input from company personnel.

Tier 0 requires technical and marketing resources to create, maintain, and update product information.

A web and mobile team is used for Web site and app creation.

Moderators are used to monitor customer forums.

Tier 1 personnel respond to requests received through email, Web sites, or social media.

Tier 1

Basic help desk resolution and service desk delivery

Support for basic customer issues such as solving usage issues and fulfilling service desk requests that need IT involvement.

If no solution is available, tier 1 personnel escalate incidents to a higher tier.

Lower level technical personnel, trained to solve known problems and to fulfill service requests by following scripts.

Tier 2

In-depth technical support

Experienced and knowledgeable technicians assess issues and provide solutions for problems that cannot be handed by tier 1.

If no solution is available, tier 2 support escalates the incident to tier 3.

Support personnel with deep knowledge of the product or service, but not necessarily the engineers or programmers who designed and created the product.

Tier 3

Expert product and service support

Access to the highest technical resources available for problem resolution or new feature creation.

Tier 3 technicians attempt to duplicate problems and define root causes, using product designs, code, or specifications.

Once a cause is identified, the company decides whether or not to create a new fix, depending on what caused the problem. New fixes are documented for use by tier 1 and tier 2 personnel.

Tier 3 specialists are generally the most highly skilled product specialists, and may include the creators, chief architects, or engineers who created the product or service.

Tier 4

Outside support for problems not supported by the organization

Contracted support for items provided by but not directly serviced by the organization, including printer support, vendor software support, machine maintenance, depot support, and other outsourced services.

Problems or requests are forwarded to tier 4 support and monitored by the organization for implementation.

Preferred vendors and business partners providing support and services for items provided by your company.

Many companies modify this template and combine support tiers according to their resources and philosophies. In some organizations, tier 1 and tier 2 functions are handled by the same personnel while others may combine tier 2 and tier 3 functions in the same groups. The trend is to automate as many support functions as possible in tier 0 where customers can quickly and easily find easily find solutions without IT help, saving higher skilled resources for creating new solutions and troubleshooting difficult problems.

Tiered IT support is greatly enhanced by IT Service Management (ITSM) and software products that automate many of the functions provided by each tier, such as BMC’s Remedy Service Management Suite and MyIT. Please feel free to contact BMC for more information on how to organize and staff your own IT Support functions.

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These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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Joe Hertvik

Joe Hertvik

Joe Hertvik works in the tech industry as a business owner and an IT Director, specializing in Data Center infrastructure management and IBM i management. Joe owns Hertvik Business Services, a content strategy business that produces white papers, case studies, and other content for the tech industry. Joe has produced over 1,000 articles and other IT-related content for various publications and tech companies over the last 15 years. Joe also provides consulting services for IBM i shops, Data Centers, and Help Desks. Joe can be reached via email at joe@joehertvik.com, or on his web site at joehertvik.com.