a series of levels to illustrated the idea of tiered support

What Is Tiered Support?

Tiered support is a way to organize your support team for tackling customer support issues efficiently, no matter what your product or service is.

Although it isn’t the only way to structure customer support, it’s the most commonly used, especially by tech companies. But any company with customers or issues that need to be handled by an expert team can benefit from tiered support.

In this post, we discuss what tiered support is and how it’s structured, and share tips for setting up support tiers at your company.

What is tiered support?

Tiered support is a way of organizing a support center by skill level.

In tiered support, issues are filtered by complexity. Simple, repetitive issues are resolved through automation (Tier 0) or a “first line of defense” team (Tier 1), while complex cases are escalated to more experienced team members (Tier 2 or Tier 3).

Tiered support helps companies better allocate their resources, which leads to reduced costs and improved customer satisfaction.

Support tiers

Most tiered support teams are divided as follows:

  • Tier 0 encompasses all the self-help resources available to users, including services like password reset automation, knowledge base articles, and blog posts.
  • Tier 1 is the first-line support team that handles basic customer issues (around 40-60%). Usually the largest support team, Tier 1 is made up of generalists with strong communication and customer service skills.
  • Tier 2 is the back-line senior team that tackles issues Tier 1 can’t solve. A smaller group composed of experienced support technicians, Tier 2 handles around 30% of incoming issues. They escalate the ones they get stuck on to Tier 3, but not without first replicating them and testing different solutions.
  • Tier 3 is staffed with senior analysts that have deep knowledge of a product or service—sometimes, the engineers or programmers who created the product or service themselves. They investigate, diagnose, and resolve issues using resources not available to other support agents.

The number of tiers and who the teams report to can vary per organization. All support tiers follow and support a common support center vision, mission, and goals.

Why offer tiered support?

Imagine if, instead of bots, account-based services like Netflix and TextExpander relied on support agents to manually reset users’ passwords. Handling all of these cases would be incredibly tedious and time-consuming.

Just like password resetting is best done through automation, some cases are best handled by a generalist support team as opposed to a team of highly-specialized experts—and vice-versa.

That’s where tiered support comes in. Tiered support ensures resources are properly allocated—to maximize efficiency, cut costs, improve customer service metrics, and empower users and support teams.

Tips for setting up tiered support

  • Automate. Automate support as much as possible to increase efficiency and availability.
  • Invest in self-service resources. Make information easily accessible in Tier 0 to enable customers to find solutions on their own.
  • Create a repository of best replies. Use a knowledge activation tool to enable support agents to access the best replies crowdsourced from all support Tiers.

Try TextExpander

Although they might be separated by tiers, team members still need to effectively communicate and collaborate. Knowledge must be shared across the entire team, and every agent must have access to the most accurate, up-to-date information.

TextExpander helps customer support teams do that. Using our knowledge activation tool, support teams document and share knowledge across tiers to deliver the best support to customers.

TextExpander is free to use for 30 days.