A well-structured tech support system can also be split into five distinct levels.
Today, users get on their laptop or smartphone and google their issues, often finding solutions on online chat forums and YouTube videos. It is important to remember that for each good review, there might be innumerable customers complaining who have not had their problems solved and go out of their way to share their experience about it online. Hence, online forums, social media, and website comments can be seen as the first line of defence for the customer.
The next level in tech support is self-service, which allows users to try and help themselves, managing with the help of FAQs, knowledge bases and self-help wikis. For several users, this is a fast and easy alternative to ringing up a help desk and waiting for their response via email.
First Line of Support
Just as can be expected, knowledge bases and FAQs cannot answer everything. Sometimes, users cannot get the answers they want and need to speak to a human. For most customers, first-line support is the first level of contact with someone from within the company. First-line support basically concentrates on the most common queries. The support personnel at this level have a general understanding of the product or service but might not always have the competence needed for solving complex issues. The goal of this level is to handle seventy to eighty per cent of the user problems before finding it necessary to raise the issue to a higher level.
Second Line of Support
The issues become more complex at this stage, particularly since end-users are becoming more and more tech-savvy per year. The New York Times even found that 73% of tech support managers stated that the complexity of support calls is rising because customers are increasingly becoming more technologically sophisticated and can resolve relatively simple issues on their own. This means that the twenty-five to thirty per cent of tech support queries that could not be handled in first-line support end up and are much more complicated.
The second line of support requires staff to have in-depth knowledge of the product in order to address such support requests and provide technical guidance, as well as the ability to talk to users over the phone and help them find a solution. However, even these requests require even more expertise sometimes.
Third Line of Support
Customer support is the zenith of tech support for the vast majority of customers. Third line support manages outlier cases that level pre-support, which the second line could not handle, meaning that third line tech support is most likely to be managed by a designated superuser or someone from the R&D department. Generally, by the time the user issue reaches the third level of tech support, the issue would have become so complex that it would need the involvement of custom work to solve it.