When it comes to IT support, one size does not fit all. Different issues require different levels of expertise and resources to resolve, which is why many IT support teams divide their assistance model into tiers.

With different levels of customer service, requests are escalated, with each tier providing a higher level of expertise than the previous one.

In this article, we will explore the concept of tiered IT support, how it works, and the benefits it can bring to both IT support teams and companies. We will also discuss some common structures and explain how to implement a tiered IT support model effectively.

What is tiered IT support?

Tiers in IT support are a way of organising and separating the work of IT support teams, creating different levels of expertise or complementary knowledge to solve issues that may arise. These divisions are commonly Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3.

The goal of dividing tasks by level of difficulty or experience necessary to sort them is to improve customer support, directing people who need help to a team already equipped to handle the issue.

The tier model is not restricted to IT departments or companies, and it can be used by different departments that have to deal with various levels of complexity. However, when implementing a tiered model, it is important that companies and departments have a system in place to divide tasks and create a workflow between different service levels.

In IT, tiered support involves categorising tickets based on complexity, urgency, and severity and assigning them to IT support personnel with corresponding levels of expertise.

The benefits of tiered IT support

Implementing tiered IT support can significantly improve customer service and relationships. Here are some of the most common benefits of this approach:

Efficient issue resolution

Tiered IT support allows organisations to handle IT issues in a structured manner. Teams can prioritise and address issues more efficiently by categorising issues into tiers based on complexity, urgency, and severity.

Simple issues can be resolved at Tier 1, while more complex issues can be escalated to higher tiers with more specialised expertise.

This results in faster issue resolution times and reduced downtime, improving overall IT service quality and user satisfaction.

Resource Optimization

Categorising issues also allows companies and IT departments to allocate resources more effectively.

Less complex and routine issues can be handled at Tier 1, which typically has a larger pool of personnel with basic technical skills and knowledge. This frees up higher-tier personnel to focus on more complex issues.

This optimal resource allocation ensures that IT personnel are utilised efficiently, reducing the workload of more specialised professionals and preventing lower-tier team members from handling more than they are capable of.


As with resource optimisation, tiered IT support can lead to cost savings. With issues divided into levels of expertise, companies can avoid unnecessary escalation of simple issues, which may be more expensive.

Tiered IT support allows companies to have a team consistent with their most common issues, saving on personnel costs and support tools.

Consistent service levels

A tiered approach can help ensure service consistency across different IT issues. Lower-tier support can handle routine issues, while higher-tier support can handle more complex issues. This consistency helps establish clear expectations for issue resolution times, response times, and overall service quality.


Tiered IT support can be easily scaled up or down based on the needs of the organisation. As companies grow or change, the tiered support structure can be adjusted to accommodate different needs or requirements.

New tiers or roles can be easily added, and existing tiers can be restructured to meet the evolving needs of the IT environment.

How to divide IT support

Once it is clear what tiered support is and how it can benefit your business, the next step for implementing this approach is to determine how to divide each tier.

There are many different ways of categorising support tickets, and companies might find one approach better or more fitting. Here are some ways to divide and categorise IT support:

Tiers by complexity

In the division by complexity, issues and tickets are divided according to how difficult they are to resolve and the level of expertise necessary to deal with them.

When dividing tickets by complexity, tiers will look like this:

Tier 1 - Help Desk

Help Desk, the first tier in the support service, will handle basic issues that are easy to resolve. The personnel necessary at this level use previously prepared scripts to deal with common problems.

At this level, support teams will answer questions, help users solve minor issues, or diagnose problems.

Tier 2 - Service Desk

Issues that are not resolved on Tier 1 will escalate to Tier 2. Problems at this level require deeper knowledge and expertise.

Professionals at service desk have more experience and can quickly diagnose problems and find more complex solutions. They will also document these solutions that can later be used at tier 1.

Issues dealt with at this level are of medium complexity.

Tier 3 - Networks and security

The third level in IT support, divided by complexity, will deal with issues requiring higher levels of access, such as security configuration, infrastructure architecture, and systems implementation.

This level can also cover planning or infrastructure design, which are less frequent necessities.

Tiers by impact

Another division possibility is by impact. This approach divides issues more specifically according to how they affect individuals and departments.

Implementing this model requires a deep understanding of all processes in the company, as IT departments will have to assess what issues impact what departments.

Tier 1 - Individual impact

With this approach, tier 1 deals with issues that affect an individual. People working at this tier will be trained to deal with one person at a time.

The main advantage of this way of dividing tickets is that there’s no need to escalate a problem due to complexity. Personnel on tier 1 should be able to come up with a solution.

Tier 2 - Collective and security impact

On tier 2, issues affect an entire department or even the whole company.

Teams at this level need to be multidisciplinary and capable of understanding the necessities of different professionals.

Tier 3 - Management

Tier 3 in this approach provides a consulting service, determining the best practices and tools the IT support department should use and creating reports to manage IT services.

This tier is essential for companies interested in leveraging IT as an important asset for growth.

Tiers by access

This approach divides tickets according to how easily teams can offer in-person support, defining tiers by location.

Tier 1 - Service desk

With this approach, the service desk is only responsible for tickets that can be resolved remotely.

Tier 2 - Field service

Field service will be responsible for tickets in tier 2, visiting clients when problems are too complex to be dealt with remotely.

Occasionally, field service can also be a permanent position where IT professionals work in their client companies to provide support urgently whenever necessary.

What is the best way to divide IT support?

How IT support is divided will depend on the needs of companies and IT departments. Before deciding which approach to take, all processes must be assessed, and there must be a clear definition of the best ways to handle technical issues.

Consulting companies and IT experts will be able to guide the implementation of tiered support, defining what each level should include. It is also crucial to have a clear workflow, ensuring that resolutions and services are consistent.

How to implement tiered IT support

As discussed, implementing tiered IT support involves a great deal of organisation and knowledge about processes and necessities.

Define tier levels

Once you have clearly defined all processes and department needs, determine the best division approach for your company and decide what will be included in each tier of IT support.

For example, if you decide to structure your support based on complexity, define what complexity levels will be included in tier 1 and so forth.

Define responsibilities

Clearly define the responsibilities and scope of work for each tier.

For example, Tier 1 may handle tasks such as password resets, software installations, and printer issues, while Tier 2 will deal with system configuration and Tier 3 with server maintenance.

Establish escalation procedures

Create a clear escalation process for issues and tickets that can not be resolved at lower tiers. Define when and how issues should be escalated to higher tiers based on predefined criteria.

This ensures that issues are escalated fast enough to provide a timely resolution.

Provide training and resources

Ensure each tier has the necessary training, skills, and resources to handle their assigned tasks. This may include providing technical training, access to knowledge bases, documentation, tools, and software to aid in issue resolution.

Establish communication channels

Define communication channels for teams in different tiers to collaborate and share information among themselves.

Channels may be regular meetings, email, chat, or a specific system that will track resolutions.

Monitor and measure performance

Implement metrics to monitor the performance of each tier, as well as the necessities of clients and the time of resolution of tickets.

Regularly review and analyse data to identify areas for improvement and implement the necessary changes.

Final thoughts

Implementing tiered IT support is a practical approach to manage services, improving satisfaction levels and optimising teams.

By organising support into different tiers or levels and defining clear responsibilities, IT departments or companies can ensure the timely resolution of tickets, cut costs and establish a better relationship with customers.

Tiered IT support can significantly contribute to company growth but also requires deep knowledge about processes and necessities. With proper support from IT experts and consultants, this approach can transform IT services.