Explaining IT Support Levels: How L0, L1, L2, L3, L4 Support Tier Work

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The most common question appears in the mind of customers is that "what variety of IT Support Tiers a service provider is using?". They also wonder that how many levels of support service (i.e.- IT Support Levels of Help Desk or Service Desk) is offered by the provider they are working with and what facilities these levels have. So, to provide a guideline we will discuss on the ITIL's view on the levels of support service an IT service provider should have.

[See Also: The difference between Help Desk and Service Desk]

What are IT Support Tires or IT Support Levels? 

IT Support Levels and IT Support Tiers are the phrases used interchangeably within IT organizations. This usually describes the skills and access levels the IT support personnel are having.

Though there can be significant variations (tailoring), a typical IT Support infrastructure usually implements the following support tiers.

IT Support Levels Support Tiers

IT Support Level - Tier 0: 

Tier-0 IT Support level, also called as Level-0 IT support, is usually the automated machine interactive support level. There is little or no scope for immediate human interaction when receiving support.

Functions supported by Tier-0:

The functions that are introduced to implement Tier-0 support are by providing some form of user retrievable information or by incorporating Self-Help Service desk.

The scope of Tier-0 IT-Support:

Users can browse and retrieve support information from the web or app-based platforms that include product details, FAQs, technical information, manuals, and search functions. The same platform may also facilitate access to service catalogs where users can request and receive services without involving the IT staff.

This method can also include social contact methods such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc that may be used by users to send queries or requests to the company.

Implementing customer forums is also a Tier-0 solution allowing users to crowdsource solutions, usually without input from company personnel.

Tier-0 IT Support Staffing Requirement:

  • Tier-0 (Level 0) support only requires specific technical and marketing resources to be created, maintained, and updated as and when required.
  • A web development or mobile development team is used to create the web portal or the mobile app.
  • Moderator roles can be assigned to some staffs, those who will be monitoring customer forums or social profiles.
  • Any new request received from this level can be transferred to Tier-1 support desk for further processing.

IT Support Level - Tier 1: 

Tier-1 support or Level 1 support represents a very basic level of support service, usually provided by IT personnel having the lowest level of skills and access levels.

Functions supported by Tier-1:

This support level is typically used to record user requests, attending user’s phone calls, replying emails, logging issues faced by users, and do some basic troubleshooting by using questionnaires relate to the issue.

The scope of Tier-1 IT-Support:

Supporting and solving common issues faced by customers such as solving usage issues, providing detailed product information, and fulfilling service desk requests that need IT involvement.

If no solution is available or the issue needs more access privilege then Tier-1 personnel escalates those incidents to a higher tier (generally to Tier-2).

Tier-1 IT Support Staffing Requirement:

Tier-1 only requires staffs having a basic level of technical knowledge. They are trained to resolve known problems and to fulfill service requests by following documented standard operating procedures (SOP) or scripts.

IT Support Level - Tier 2: 

The Tier-2 support level is for providing in-depth troubleshooting, technical analysis, and support from the backend.

Functions supported by Tier-2:

In-depth technical support provided from the backend. This group represents a part of ITIL Technical Management function and usually follows incident management activities.

The scope of Tier-2 IT-Support:

This level may or may not come to the front end or may not communicate directly with end users or customers. Here, experienced and knowledgeable technicians assess incidents (or problems) and provide solutions for issues that cannot be handled by Tier 1.

If no solution can be provided by this group, then Tier-2 support escalates the incident/problem to Tier-3.

Tier-2 IT Support Staffing Requirement:

This level requires support personnel having deep knowledge and a good understanding of the product or service. They may or may not be the programmers or engineers who designed and created the service/product, but they should have adequate knowledge and experience on the specified product/service.

IT Support Level - Tier 3: 

A level consisting of SMEs (Subject Matter Expert) on the product or service your organization is providing support to.

Functions supported by Tier-3:

This supports the Top level of Technical Management Function and used to provide an expert level of support for product or services.

The scope of Tier-3 IT-Support:

This group has access permission to the highest level of technical resources available for issue resolution or new feature creation. This group typically follows the problem management activities.

The Tier-3 technicians attempt to reproduce problems in the lab environment and tried to find the root cause, using product code, designs, or specifications. Once the root cause is identified, the fixes to the issues are documented and communicated to Tier-1 and Tier-2 technicians as a future reference.

Tier-3 IT Support Staffing Requirement:

Tier-3 specialists typically have the highest level of skills and often they are called as product specialists. This group may include the actual creators, engineers, or chief architects who designed and developed the product or service.

IT Support Level - Tier 4: 

This Tier-4 (or Level 4) support usually comes into the picture when some of the services are outsourced by the parent organization.

Functions supported by Tier-4:

Tier-4 (Level 4) support usually refers to outside support teams who provide support to the services that are not directly supported by the organization. This support level works by following the principles of ITIL Supplier Management process.

The scope of Tier-4 IT-Support:

Outsourced support for products or components that are not directly serviced by the organization. Some of the examples are printer support, machine maintenance, vendor software support, depot support, and other outsourced services. Issues or requests that are forwarded to Tier-4 support are monitored by the organization till the resolution.

Tier-4 IT Support Staffing Requirement:

Preferred suppliers and business partners providing support and services for products/components that are not directly supported by your company but essential for providing services to customers.

Do Companies Need to Strictly Follow These Support Levels? 

Though the tiered IT support is highly encouraged by IT Service Management (ITSM), it’s not mandatory to deploy all the levels. You can modify or combine support levels based on your requirements and support structure.

Many companies tailor this hierarchy and combine support tiers (levels) according to their resource capacity, financial capability, and philosophies. In some organizations, Tier-1 and Tier-2 functional groups are handled by the same technicians while other organizations may prefer to combine Tier-2 and Tier-3 functions in the same groups.

The ultimate goal is to automate as many support functions as possible in Tier-0 where end users can quickly and easily find solutions without IT personnel's help. This saves the higher skilled resources for creating new solutions, troubleshooting difficult problems, and also reduces the operational cost.


We hope that you have enjoyed the above article describing the IT Support Levels. Be with us to explore free training on Leading Technologies and Certifications.

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Posted in ITIL Foundation and tagged , , , , , .

I'm passionate about Information Technology & spreading my knowledge makes me happy. I Have MBA(IS), ITIL, PRINCE2, CCNA, CCNP, MCSA, MS Hyper-V Certifications, and Trained in PMP, CCIE. And also have 10+ Yrs of Work Experience.
I wish you all the best in your career !!!!

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Sergio Moreno

Hi Ayan,

Thank you for your post. Very instructive.

And nw my doubt. Is it recommended having different support groups from problem management and incident management?

Thank you in advance.
Best Regards.