IT Help Desk Levels: What Do They Mean?

Building an efficient tech support structure for your business can help skyrocket your productivity. One key strategy for streamlining inquiries and support requests is establishing IT help desk levels. 

In this guide, we will break down the five most common levels of IT help desks, outlining each one to help you build an optimized support infrastructure. From there, we’ll review how many levels best complement your internal ecosystem. 

Help Desk Levels for Streamlined IT Support

Leveled IT help desks direct different inquiry types to specific support personnel equipped to handle that query. Instead of forwarding all ticket types to the first available IT staff, help desk levels route quick fixes and more granular tech concerns to different departments. 

Each level of your IT help desk performs specific functions. Offering multiple support layers can help streamline inquiries and speed up ticket resolution. In this article, we’ll explore five IT help desk levels:

  • Level 0: Self-Support
  • Level 1: Basic Support
  • Level 2: Troubleshooting
  • Level 3: Expert Support
  • Level 4: External Support

Level 0: Self-Support

At Level 0, your team accesses a company-wide IT knowledge base to find their own resolutions to their inquiries. At this level of support, they likely won’t engage with any IT staff.

Robust self-service systems are paramount for help desk efficiency for two reasons:

  1. They empower users to find their own answers quickly without contacting the IT team, decreasing the time spent waiting for inquiry resolution. Less time spent interfacing with support is conducive to productivity.
  1. They improve the efficiency of the IT help desk at large. When users can find their own answers, they’re not creating tickets for IT staff to manage or resolve. IT staff can spend more time on higher-level projects when users can fix their own issues.

Level 0 support looks different for every company, but some examples of self-support resources include:

  • FAQ pages
  • Searchable information and SOP databases
  • A bank of how-to guides for low-level IT procedures

Level 1: Basic Support

When users reach Level 1, they begin interfacing with more advanced IT staff or service tools to answer more complex issues or skip Level 0.

Level 1 tech support inquiries aren’t necessarily about malfunctions. Instead, they’re typically about more minute procedures that require more detail than Level 0 resources can provide. 

For instance, an online banking website’s Level 0 support may provide a how-to guide for accessing the money transfer tool but doesn’t explain how to complete the process. If the customer reached out to the help desk with an inquiry about how to use the transfer tool, they’d likely be directed to Level 1 staff. 

Level 1 support typically connects users with IT staff. Still, some tech support systems are harnessing the power of AI or virtual assistants to resolve Level 1 inquiries.

Level 2: Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting support is part and parcel of every help desk system. When users experience a technical problem and file a ticket to report a broken feature or a system outage, they’ll likely interface with Level 2 IT staff. 

Common Level 2 inquiries include support requests for:

  • Hardware malfunctions
  • Software glitches or error messages
  • Bugs that appear after a patch or system update
  • Credentials errors
  • Permissions or network access restriction bugs

While Level 1 inquiries may not result in users filing a ticket, Level 2 issues almost always warrant the use of a ticketing process. Whether your technical support team is all internal—or at least partially outsourced—they should expect Level 2 requests to represent a significant portion of ticketed inquiries.

Level 3: Expert Support

At Level 3, users require expert intervention to handle minute or advanced technical issues. As a result, Level 3 staff are usually highly trained IT experts. Level 3 support is typically the highest tier of in-house IT support before users are directed to external support specialists. 

Level 3 IT staff usually have the most access to internal IT resources, and they often complete more significant IT processes like:

  • Rewriting system codes
  • Reprogramming or adding app functions
  • Creating new apps, platforms and procedures to address functionality gaps
  • Maintaining servers 

In general, Level 3 IT staff handle tickets passed along by Level 1 and 2 IT staff, serving as the final line of defense for in-house IT tickets.

Level 4: External Support

If IT staff at Levels 1 through 3 can’t find or develop a resolution to a user’s concern, they’ll direct the users to Level 4 support:staff from external sources who are experts on specific software, hardware or network functions. 

For instance, if a user experiences an error while using their accounting software and Level 3 staff can’t find a workaround, the user will interface directly with the accounting software’s IT team.

In some cases, Level 3 IT staff will directly interface with Level 4 external support on the users’ behalf, especially if users are experiencing consistent problems. 

How Many Levels Are Right For Your Business?

So how many IT help desk support levels are appropriate for your in-house IT team?

You may only need a small IT team if you operate a small business. While your IT team may use a leveled structure to manage tickets, individual IT staff may wear multiple hats, addressing IT inquiries across various levels.

Businesses beginning to scale will likely benefit from access to all four tiers. In addition, as businesses evolve, they implement new software and hardware solutions to streamline and automate previously manual tasks.  

But growing pains are inevitable, and support for all levels during transitions can help ensure optimal productivity as the business implements new technologies.

Partner with Helixstorm for Managed End User Support

Creating a nuanced, efficient IT help desk requires multiple levels of support and tech staff that can manage inquiries across a wide gamut.  

When your business is ready to streamline IT help desk levels, your internal team doesn’t have to lead the charge and lose bandwidth. At Helixstorm, you can outsource your help desk to supplement your in-house team, plan and implement new IT system initiatives and benefit from a managed IT system

Our all-in-one platform helps businesses manage every aspect of their IT—from data privacy and security to software updates, support inquiries, tech procurement and much more. Businesses need scalable IT infrastructure, and we provide solutions for tomorrow’s problems.