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Levels of IT Support

Emmanuel Christi Das

Year over year, technology has registered staggering growth, and opportunities at the same time. On the consuming end, businesses have made the best of such technologies. That said, businesses have also faced tech support issues of the same magnitude. This has inflated the market for tech support services more than the technology itself.

Infrastructure-related services involve parameters like acquiring, installing, maintaining, and replacing things on an annual basis. Whether the replacement costs are part of the annual operating budget or are to be viewed as deferred maintenance (as many colleges have done in repair of their building infrastructure), they are real costs related to providing the necessary IT services. As such, they must be considered as part of any analysis of the cost of providing these important services. Support services are those areas in which budget components are largely staff driven and relate to provision of support to users of the infrastructure.

Depending on the needs of the users, tech support can come in different models, rather levels. The first being, pre-support. In the pre-Internet era, if people had a product question, they asked family and friends or, they referenced an owner’s manual. However, times have changes and so have customer’s dependability on more than just word of mouth. It’s important to see online forums, social media, and website comments as your first line of defence.

As a company, you should be proactively seeking out these channels to control the conversation, guide users towards your own tech support system and help keep everyone happy. No damages done. The next line of defense is self service. This is about allowing users to self-serve and is managed through self-help wikis, FAQs and knowledge bases. For many users, this is a quick and easy alternative to contacting a help desk and then waiting for a response by email. This obviously backfires when a customer is already annoyed with a product. When not satisfied, customers can then be treated by human contact. This accounts for the 3rd line of defence. This group is entitled to handle 70-80 percent of the user problems before finding it necessary to escalate the issue to a higher level.

This is followed by the tech support managers. With the customers becoming highly tech savvy, its only obvious that a good number of tickets raised eventually reach the tech support managers. This is fairly because, few issues require staff with in-depth knowledge of the product to handle the support requests and provide technical guidance – and, the ability to talk to users over the phone to help them find a solution. When all things fail, the fifth line support deals with outlier cases that levels pre-support to second line could not handle, which means that the fifth line tech support is likely to be managed by a designated super user, or even someone from the R&D department.

With these 5 levels of tech support on standby, businesses can be rest assured to keep customers close to their heart and the churn rate high up on the graph.

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