Why Tiered Support?
Arranging your support effort in tiers is a common practice for organizations that have customer service teams. This is one of the best ways of managing the customer service and support workload.
What Do We Mean by Tiered Support?
When we talk about tiers, we mean organizing support teams into different levels.
- This helps to make sure the individuals in your support team use their skills and knowledge effectively and efficiently
- It enables you to map the ‘seriousness’ or the level of impact a support issue is causing a customer onto those with the right level of skill and knowledge to resolve it quickly
- It also helps avoid your higher value support team members with more detailed knowledge or management roles being caught up in low-level support activity
The idea of tiered customer support is largely taken from the practice of help desk management. Tiered support is an integral part of the support world particularly in large organizations. In some ways, the phenomenal growth of cloud apps has proved disruptive to the formal tiered support model. This is because very small tech companies – perhaps even 1 or 2 people businesses – may have to support thousands of customers across a global user base. In such companies you still have to think in a tiered support model, but with limited resources, it is a real challenge.
We know all about this, because Freshdesk started there! And we’ve scaled it to keep in step with our growth by going from a single support person to a tiered team of around 70 in seven years.
Creating a Tiered Customer Support Framework
A 3 Tier model looks something like this—
Especially in today’s non-tech companies, all customer facing team members across the organization could be considered as Level 1. The applies in smaller or early stage tech companies.
Selecting Your L1, L2 & L3 Tiered Support Teams
Now you understand what we are trying to achieve you can think about how to put your L1, L2 and L3 tiered support teams together. This gives a rule of thumb—
Remember Juniors aren’t necessarily graduates or apprentices. And the Top-level don’t necessarily have grey hair! There are also a few other things that it is worth thinking about.
Selecting Juniors with ‘The Right Stuff’
The subject of whether good support people are born or made is a whole other topic! However, some good traits to identify people with the right talents are being ‘people-people’ and good listeners with a helpful attitude. However, you need to have a structured process for helping them progress and move up to the next level.
Ideally, you need to provide the means for them to improve their knowledge and skills. Give some thought to mentoring, improving personal learning and Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
Consider organizing teams with sub-groups where 3 or 4 Juniors are guided and managed by a manager or an L2 person.
Mixing it Up to Keep it Interesting
As well as providing the means for Juniors to progress, across the whole team it is well worth figuring out how to stop support people getting bored or becoming disillusioned. Emails and webform ticketing, phone calls and chat are all part of the multichannel communication methods that customers might use to get help.
Think about rotating the sub-groups you have within each level between the different multichannel methods of communication to help vary the nature of their work and to help prevent them becoming stale.
As a development house with a number of software products Freshdesk is able to actually rotate support teams and sub-groups across products to provide even greater variety. This gives greater depth to the knowledge and skills of each team member as well as creating a more agile and flexible support function.