Business Practices | | Published March 24, 2016

The Tiered Customer Support Model is Dead

Customer support has one goal: to help customers with whatever issues they run into. Client satisfaction is key to a successful experience, and the best teams structure themselves around the needs of their customers. Why, then, do so many help desks work off an archaic tiered customer support model?

Collaboration lets agents learn and engage with their team.

Organizing customer service representatives according to restrictive 'tiers' doesn't benefit anyone - neither the agents nor their clients. A collaborative approach, on the other hand, places the focus rightfully back on the customer.

What is tiered support?
The tiered model arranges customer service reps according to their level of training. New hires handle the simplest questions at Level 1, while those with a little more tenure and knowledge advance to Level 2, and so on. Only those with a lot of experience and expertise make it to the top tiers.

Who benefits from tiered methods?
The idea seems theoretically sound, but tiered customer support models are cumbersome for everyone when put into practice. First and foremost, they extend the amount of time it takes to solve a complex problem. Customers with intricate dilemmas are passed along from agent to agent until they reach the one whose experience matches their concern. In each instance, the customer has to repeat his or her question and wait for the representative to conclude that the issue is above their tier. Meanwhile, the agents themselves typically only handle the same topics, never getting the chance to advance their knowledge of the product.

The future is collaboration
Collaboration ultimately provides the best approach to customer service. While tiered methods are structured around the knowledge of agents, not the most efficient way to help clients, collaboration puts the customer's needs at the forefront. It lets agents connect with each other and find the best answers for the trouble at hand.

If the initial rep doesn't know a suitable solution to an issue, their interaction with the customer doesn't end. The two remain in contact, and the agent consults the rest of the support team or other departments, asking for insight and gaining new knowledge and skills along the way.

Collaborative support makes it easy for businesses to find the answers they need.

Collaboration benefits customers just as it does customer service reps, if not more so. They don't have to spend time repeating themselves to various agents who aren't able to help them in the long run. Issues are solved quickly and thoroughly. Since the agent relies on both his knowledge and that of his peers, the final resolution is far more comprehensive than that of one person working alone in a tiered model.

The best way to promote this type of teamwork is by hiring the right agents and providing them with collaborative customer support software. With the right solution, representatives can seamlessly communicate directly with each other and the rest of their team. This ability to discuss topics on a broad scale resolves tickets faster and distributes information among the entire help desk so that every agent is supported and able to learn more about the product they provide. Instead of remaining stagnant within their associated level, reps master new challenges and develop stronger careers.

To learn more about the death of tiered support download our white paper