Written by: Daniel Haurey on 03/08/23

When technology issues start to bog down your employees and negatively impact your business, it may be time to partner with a managed IT services provider. This is an opportunity to outsource your IT support and allow your team to focus on business success.

Before choosing an outsourced IT helpdesk provider, you should understand exactly what type of technical support you will get with your managed services agreement.

Technical issues can range from a simple malfunctioning laptop to a widespread technical issue that paralyzes your business and demands urgent remediation.

To deliver the best user experience for clients, most managed services providers (MSPs) follow a matrix that consists of multiple tiers of IT support . These tiers allow the client and the technical support team to align on triaging and escalating issues according to several factors.

To accomplish that, IT providers use IT support tiers , which consist of four levels: 0 through 3.

All managed service agreements should provide clear guidance on how your MSP partner sorts and assigns service tickets into those tiers.

Many use a dispatcher who reviews and assigns tickets to the appropriate support tier; others leverage automation to sort service desk support requests and assign tasks to the technical support team .

Either way, severity and breadth of impact are two common gauges used to determine assignments for the appropriate IT support tiers . Your managed services contract should also outline the service level agreement (SLA) that correlates with each tier.

In this article, we’ll explore the different IT technical support tiers , their importance, how they function, and why they are necessary for your business.

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IT Support Tiers Explained 

What is the difference between IT support tiers ?   The definitions for each level of tiered technical support have become fairly standard in the last few years, in part to remove confusion between managed services providers and customers.

This makes comparing IT support agreements much simpler for those with limited technical knowledge.

Tier 0 Support

Let’s start with Level or Tier 0 , which is self-service support. Typically, that means users can retrieve support and assistance through a client portal or gated support website.

Other examples of Tier 0 support include popular tools such as knowledge forums or online training videos that show clients step-by-step instructions for resolving simple technical issues on their own.

Tier 1 Support

The next level of support , Tier 1 or Level 1 , is basic help desk support . This includes assistance with username and password resets or help with hardware and software bugs.

Resolution likely requires support personnel guiding clients through simple fixes. However, if the issue proves more complicated, the problem may be escalated to the next step of support, Level 2, which ensures more in-depth assistance from more experienced technicians.

Tier 2 Support

Tier or Level 2 support is typically required for more complex issues that require a deeper dive to uncover the root of the problem. Issues at this level often revolve around products or services used by the entire business versus individual glitches such as password resets.

Staffed by more experienced technicians, Tier 2 support often involves remote access to devices or significant time with the client. Most helpdesk tickets fall into this tier of support.

Tier 3 Support

Lastly, the third and highest level of IT support tiers offers access to highly knowledgeable technicians, usually engineers, who can delve deeply into complex and urgent technology issues. These usually involve the reinstallation of software or a significant hardware issue.

Level 3 problems can impact employees throughout a business or involve a business-critical application. Usually provided by experienced engineers and support personnel , Tier 3 support can require interaction with software or hardware vendors to resolve a puzzling problem.

Access to the highest level of tiered technical support often comes after technicians at other levels have evaluated the issue and escalated to this stage.

Tiers of IT Support

Why are There Multiple Tiers of IT Support?

At the heart of the IT support tiers model is customer service . Following IT technical support tiers enables managed services providers who offer outsourced IT help desk support to create a positive customer experience , and quickly resolve simple, small IT issues.

Having a well-defined tiered support structure also enables a standardized process for more complex problems, streamlining response time and funneling the most challenging machine maintenance issues to the most experienced technicians.

That structure also enables a managed service provider to set expectations with clients, ensuring no one is surprised by the timeline for service.

When evaluating a managed services partner for your IT support needs, consider asking for their policy and definitions for tiered IT support, as well as their SLAs for support. Keep in mind, some MSPs align tiers and SLAs, others manage those elements of support separately.

Be sure you understand how your support contract will be structured. Also, be sure to understand how the customer support system can be accessed whenever your employees experience a technical problem .

Most outsourced IT helpdesk teams can be reached via a partner portal, website form, email, live chat and by phone, but some may limit hours of access according to managed services agreement levels.

For example, at a lower level of managed services, help desk support may be limited to business hours while an “all you can eat” level of services may provide 24/7/365 support.  Be sure to understand what your agreement provides.

Other questions you may want to ask an IT services business partner :

  • What are the terms or additional costs for on-site versus remote management of a technical problem ?
  • How does your ticketing system work?
  • How do you staff your support team to ensure coverage at each level?
  • What happens if my employees are not happy with the resolution of an IT problem?

Interested in learning more about IT support tiers? Check out these blogs:

Benefit From the Many Tiers of IT Support With a Proven Partner

At Exigent Technologies, our technical support team is well-versed in support for businesses ranging from small to enterprise-level, with certified technicians available to assist you via email, telephone, or through our partner portal.

We pride ourselves on superior customer service and offer quick SLAs that include escalation to the highest level of support as needed. We can also provide local technicians for on-site resolution as situations require.

For more information on the different IT technical support tiers we offer, contact us today to schedule a consultation with our help desk support specialists.


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