IT Support Levels: What Do All These L’s Stand For and What’s the Difference Between L1 and L2

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It is natural — the more your business grows, the more customers you acquire. The more customers you have, the bigger there is a need in a defined and dedicated support team. A team that will provide customer service and assistance when something goes wrong.

Starting with the simple “Password-Reset” to the replacement of a faulty server it all requires a team of qualified support consultants to find and resolve client problems in an easy workable solution.

And separating your team into tiers plays a big role in increasing its efficiency.

Each tier has its own functions which allows businesses to pick out the most suitable ones for their needs.

So what makes businesses move to tiers in the first place?

First of all, growth. When the company is growing, it is only natural that the number of the customer tickets is increasing as well. And unless you implement some sort of a sorting structure to them, you will be experiencing lack of organization, and, eventually, a decrease in the level of your customers’ satisfaction. 

And unless you implement some sort of a sorting structure to them, you will be experiencing lack of organization, and, eventually, a decrease in the level of your customers’ satisfaction. 

Employees can benefit from tiers as well. This way customer service consultants have a clear understanding of their roles and duties, and can efficiently communicate with one another while solving tickets, escalating or de-escalating them.

When organized and set up properly, tiered support can provide a wide range of benefits such as:

  • Increased resolution time due to the automatization provided by Tier 0 of IT support;
  • Cost reduction by separating more complex cases that need to be dealt with by support representatives from those that can be solved with automated tools.
  • Performance optimization in accordance with various customer service KPIs;
  • Increased customer and user satisfaction.

Tier 0 (L0)

Zero level of tech support does not require human involvement and usually implies self-service only. It might involve the use of an automated tool. Typical examples of L0 tech support are the following:

  • Chatbots
  • Automated password reset tools
  • AI-powered automated answer tools
  • Knowledge bases
  • Detailed product’s description
  • Blog posts

Using Tier 0 can be beneficial to both you and your customers. Your team will be able to focus on more complex tickets without getting distracted to answer phone calls or reply to emails with simple questions. At the same time, customers will get that feeling of self-accomplishment by resolving their issues themselves, without a customer representative involvement. 

While dealing with L0 of tech support it is important to take care of the following:

  • Constantly update your self-help materials;
  • Provide a seamless integration of your Tier 0 with other aspects of your help desk;
  • Develop an easy-to-use interface and provide easy access to your knowledge base and FAQ materials for your customers.
  • Keep monitoring your Tier 0 self-service system for any malfunctions as well as its accordance with the help desk KPIs. 

Tier 1 (L1)

L1 consultants are dealing with most of the incoming support tickets. Their task is to solve the easiest and most common problems users may have. This allows the rest of the team to focus on more pressing issues that require more technical knowledge than tier 1 specialists may have. 

While establishing your L1 technical support it is important to pay attention to the following aspects:

  • Maintain a clear and convenient schedule to cover all the hours and keep your employees motivated without making them feel exhausted;
  • Pay attention to your team’s communication and troubleshooting skills as they are the first representatives of your company that your customers talk to;
  • Provide your Tier 1 experts with efficient remote access tools, detailed FAQ materials, strategies for escalation situations, and all the possible workarounds. 
  • Don’t neglect the opportunity to implement AI-driven tools into your L1 support’s daily workflow. It can speed up their performance by suggesting answers to the most typical questions, help with categorizing the issue, etc. 

Tier 2 (L2)

The second tier of customer support is usually considered to be some sort of a ‘back up’ to the first level. L2 agents are dealing with harder and more specified tasks than agents of the previous tier and usually are senior-level specialists. Tier 2 representatives must have a deep and profound knowledge of the product and be able to resolve escalated issues from the previous tier.

In case the second tier of support is not able to successfully resolve the query, it should be escalated to the next level. While setting up the routine for your second level of support, you may have two major options:

  • Give them the authority to resolve only known issues and escalate the new ones to a higher support level, or;
  • Allow them to research the new issue, and escalate only in the case of a complete inability to successfully resolve it. 

The main requirements for this level of support are the following:

  • The agent may not be a programmer or an engineer but must have experience and profound knowledge of the product/service;
  • Exceptional communication skills;
  • Ability to successfully collaborate with other levels of support. 

Tier 3 (L3)

This is the highest level of IT support out there that involves top-notch technical specialists with profile education and deep knowledge of the supported product. It is also the highest level of escalation within the customer service department. 

While establishing your third level of support it is important to remember that this team should have access to a wide range of technical resources to be able to resolve any type of issues.

Agents of level 3 are usually trying to recreate the issue in the lab environment to get to the root of the problem and make sure it will not reoccur. 

Just as with previous support levels, the third tier has its own specific features:

  • Tier 3 team must use the same ticketing system as others to ensure that everyone follows the progress of the issue;
  • To avoid ‘de-escalation’, all the issues, referred to this team, should be well-documented and have a clear set of comments from the lower tiers’ specialists.
  • All members of the L3 support team should have great communication skills to efficiently communicate with one another. 

Tier 4 (L4)

The most definitive characteristic of the fourth support tier is that the team is usually located outside of the company while being managed by its internal employees.

In other words, Tier 4 of tech support is mostly outsourced.

This is explained by the fact that L4 is taking care of the products that are not directly serviced by the company. Typically, level 4 of support refers to software and hardware vendors.

Despite the fact that the service is provided by an outside vendor, the whole process is being closely monitored by the company-employer until the complete resolution of every ticket. 

Comparison Table

FunctionsSelf-service to answer the most common questionsHuman support representatives to resolve the most common customers’ inquiries.Back-line support to handle escalation cases from the previous tier. The highest level of escalation that provides resolutions to the most complex issues. An outsourced customer support team. Monitored and controlled from within the company-employer. 
RequirementsBroad self-service materials;
Seamless integration with the rest of the help center;
Easy-to-use interface.
Excellent communication skills;
Basic but broad knowledge of the supported products;
Exceptional communication skills;
Ability to collaborate with other levels of support;
Exceptional knowledge of the product with the experience of using it. 
Profile education;
Excellent knowledge of the product; 
Outstanding communication skills.
Knowledge of tech specifics of the product;
Clear set of rules and requirements outlined in the contract;
Great technical knowledge of the product. 
Key metricsFirst Contact Resolution Rate;
% of issues resolved without escalation;
Average response time;
Level of customer satisfaction. 
Average resolution time;
% of issues resolved without  escalation;
Level of customer satisfaction. 
Average response time;
Average resolution time;
Number of escalated tickets per period.
Depending on what level (L1-L3) you outsource.

Setting Up Your Tiered Support

You need to understand that simply following the tiered structure for your help desk won’t give you excellent results that you are expecting. It solely depends on what goals you’re putting in front of your business, and your service desk in particular.

So, before you start implementing it into your company, you should answer the following questions:

  • How many customer support tickets are you getting per period (time segment)?
  • Are the incoming tickets complicated?
  • Does your team have to be “technical” to successfully resolve them?
  • What percentage of issues require escalation?
  • What is your budget?

Final Thoughts

All tiers should be coordinated with one another, and not go against the company policies and procedures.

Keep in mind that each company has its own way of setting up the help desk, choosing the number of tiers, and building the management system for the team.


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