One of the biggest predictors of high customer retention and low churn? Great CX and even better customer support. But while most businesses have nailed level 1 and maybe even level 2 support, level 3 support can sometimes fall through the cracks.
This kind of support — which often involves technical issues and subject matter experts — is not easy to provide. It's made harder by the fact that there just aren't that many solutions on the market dedicated specifically to it. In addition to all that, it can't be automated, unlike level 1 support.
Despite all of that, though, technical support is vital to get right for any business in the tech space, yet there is a lack of investment into resources that help level 3 support agents deliver the best results.
Customer support levels
The terms “customer support levels” and “customer support tiers” are often used interchangeably. And as we've alluded to above, there are three different kinds of technical support levels that vary in function and complexity.
- Level 0 customer support: This support level encompasses any kind of support that doesn't involve human intervention. Here, users get information via chatbots, help centers and community forums.
- Level 1 customer support: If users require additional help after tier 0 customer support, they can reach out to a level 1 support agent that is tasked with handling simple queries like responding to chats or emails, sending out CSAT surveys, providing basic product information, and helping users with account-level settings like passwords, billing etc.
- Level 2 customer support: If a level 1 customer support representative is unable to solve a customer's query, it is escalated to a level 2 agent. These agents typical handle more complex troubleshooting and backend analysis. If the agent finds no possible solution or the query is highly technical and requires SMEs to solve, they forward the query to level 3 support technicians.
- Level 3 support: This support level frequently requires subject matter experts with domain-specific knowledge. Level 3 support comprises of specialists like software engineers and technical support specialists. These support personnel have access to the company's higher-level systems and architecture. They are well-versed in technical troubleshooting and often encounter bugs, relay them to the company's developers and interface with customers to troubleshoot.
What is Level 3 support?
Level 3 customer support is the highest support tier in technical or IT support and involves technical support specialists and SMEs (subject matter experts) solving complex technical support challenges, troubleshooting, debugging and relaying relevant product issues and bugs to the product team.
In the following sections, we'll cover:
- The responsibilities of a level 3 support agent
- Some examples of level 3 customer support
- Common problems, issues and challenges in level 3 customer support
- The software a technical support agent needs to do their job adequately
Level 3 support responsibilities
A level 3 support agent needs to be extremely well-versed in the technical side of their product because so much of this job function involves advanced troubleshooting, bug investigation and technical document creation.
Some level 3 support responsibilities include:
- Advanced troubleshooting: Level 3 support agents are tasked with diagnosing and resolving technical support issues. They need to use their expertise to identify root causes, analyze logs and perform in-depth investigations to find solutions.
- Bug investigation and escalation: When a customer reports a bug, a level 3 customer support technician is responsible for reproducing the issue, gathering relevant information, and escalating the problem to the product and development team if necessary.
- Collaboration with development teams: Level 3 customer support agents work closely with the product and development team to provide bug reports, replaying technical issues and suggesting potential fixes.
- Technical documentation: Level 3 support technicians are in charge of maintaining comprehensive documentation of their troubleshooting processes, solutions and best practices. This documentation functions to aid other support agents and contributes to a company's knowledge base.
- Customer communication: Level 3 support agents need to be able to engage in clear and effective communication with users, ensuring that technical issues are communicated in understandable ways. They also need to provide regular updates on any fixes in the pipeline.
- Performance optimization: Level 3 customer support agents pitch in when it comes to optimizing the performance of a software application. They analyze metrics, spot bottlenecks and suggest improvements to the development team.
- Security incident response: In cases where a suspected security breach has occurred, level 3 customer support agents access the situation, implement security measures, and collaborate with IT security teams to address the breach.
- Training and mentoring: Senior level 3 technical support agents are often involved in training and mentoring junior support staff by sharing their experience and helping them develop their skillset.
- Product customization and configuration: When a customer has specific customization and configuration requirements, level 3 customer support staff step in to help them implement those requirements.
- Ticket escalation: Level 3 customer support agents are the final escalation point for challenging issues. They ensure that customer issues are addressed with the highest level of technical proficiency and that customer satisfaction remains high.
- Knowledge sharing: Level 3 customer support techs share knowledge and best practices with other team members to improve the support team's overall effectiveness and efficiency.
- Continuous learning: Level 3 customer support agents need to keep up with industry trends, the latest best practices and technologies, and product updates to maintain their expertise and provide the most relevant solutions to customers.
Level 3 customer support examples
Level 3 customer support involves solving challenging technical issues that may require the expertise of SMEs and developers.
Some examples of level 3 customer support are:
- Network troubleshooting: If a customer is experiencing network connectivity issues, a level 3 support agent may diagnose and troubleshoot the problem by analyzing logs and working with network engineers to solve the problem.
- Software bug investigation: A customer reaches out to the support team to report a bug that is causing issues when they use the software. Typically, support tickets like this will be escalated to a level 3 support agent. The agent would then analyze console logs (using software like Fullview), recreate the bug, rope in the development team, and then collaborate on releasing and communicating a fix.
- Performance optimization: A customer reports that the software they are using is slow and laggy. A level 3 support agent would analyze system metrics, identify bottlenecks and make hardware suggestions to improve performance.
- Data recovery: A customer reports that their data is lost or corrupted. A level 3 support agent would employ advanced data recovery techniques and use backup systems to recover or repair the data.
- Integration or API support: A customer reaches out to report they are having trouble with integrations or implementing the API. A level 3 customer support representative would step in to help them with the integrations and/or API by debugging the integration code, analyzing API requests and responses, and working with developers or the API provider to resolve compatibility issues.
- Security incidence reports: A customer reports a potential security breach or suspicious activity on their account. A level 3 agent would conduct a thorough investigation, access the impact, and coordinate with the IT security team to mitigate the issue.
- Product customization or configuration: A customer requires advanced customization or configuration help for a software product to meet their needs. Level 3 support may involve creating custom scripts, modifying code or providing expert guidance and advice on configuring the software to achieve the desired results.
Different ways to offer level 3 technical support
There are a couple of different kinds or ways of delivering technical support and most companies use a combination of several of these:
- Phone support: This is when customers call a company’s customer service number and speak to a customer service representative who can help them troubleshoot their problem.
- Email support: This is when customers email a company with their question or problem and someone from customer support replies with an answer or solution.
- Live chat support: This is when customers chat online with a customer service representative in real-time. It's faster than email support and can be automated to some extent with chatbots.
- Remote support: Remote access and cobrowsing are technologies that allow a support agent to gain access to a customer's screen or system remotely and solve tricky issues that are hard to resolve over chat, email, or the phone.
- In-person support: This is when customers go to a physical location, such as a store, and speak to someone in person about their problem. This isn’t super relevant to SaaS companies because they typically offer support through online or phone channels.
Level 3 support challenges
There are a number of problems specific to level 3 support, some of which include:
- Lack of specialized software solutions
- Lack of tools to log bugs and reports automatically
- Customer support workflows not in line with the user journey
- Not meeting the expectations of your users
- Lack of customer centricity
- Higher average time to resolution
- Siloes between product and support teams
- Level 3 teams often deal with churn-critical issues
Lack of specialized software solutions
As we mentioned at the start of this post, specialized software solutions for level 3 support are few and far in between. At this level, agents need a way to quickly understand user issues without having to depend on explanations from their customers because level 3 problem are very technical and difficult to convey.
What agents need at this level is a comprehensive suite of solutions that includes:
- Session replays software so they can record user sessions in-app and see behavior, bugs and issues in context.
- Console logs so they can look under the hood and see what errors and warnings occurred in any give session at a glance.
- Cobrowsing so they can initiate an in-app call with a user, gain control of their screen, and solve problems themselves without having to explain highly technical concepts to their users.
Lack of tools to log bugs and reports automatically
The bigger your company and the more technical your solution, the more detailed your bug reports need to be. Agents often have to spend hours of their week making them, and that's time they could be using to solve more tickets instead.
Investing in tools, like console logs, so agents can see exactly what happened when a bug occurred can save precious time and resources.
But why do your agents need bug reporting tools?
- To find issues raised by customers earlier
- To corral all issues in one place
- To prioritize issues
- To record the issue and share it with teammates
- To determine who’s responsible for the matter or where to forward it
- To find a solution to the problem
- To do a cross-check and determine whether the issue has been correctly fixed
Fullview gives your product teams and developers all the context they need to start supporting users, debugging and building better products and features.
Customer support workflows not in line with the user journey
Every great CX strategy starts with mapping your customer journey to determine where and when they need support. Bottlenecks and breakdowns are in danger of going unnoticed when that is not done.
So if you haven't built a customer journey, it's time you mapped out every detail. Ensure that you find and describe every touchpoint your customer goes through on your conversion route. Each of these touchpoints needs to give them easy access to customer support, whether that is in the form of a chat box, a phone number or an email address.
And don't forget that each support point must conform to the customer's needs. For instance, if you know that your clients often have question during check out and a lot of them tend to be the same ones, you can program your chatbot to give them answers or suggest relevant articles.
Not meeting the expectations of your users
Like everything else, customer expectations constantly change, and you'll need to understand them clearly to satisfy them. You can conduct customer surveys, review customer calls and chats, or get direct feedback from the people using your products.
This doesn't have to mean an overhaul of your entire strategy. Ensuring that you're making those small steps day-by-day can go a long way towards improving your CX. Try to stay one step ahead of your competition. Previously, a simple chatbot was enough. Today, you need an omni-channel system to compete.
Lack of customer centricity
As your business keeps expanding, it's easy to lose sight of customer-centricity, which is the art of placing the customer at the center of your venture. But that would be a big mistake. In order to remain customer-centric, make sure you're asking for and listening to feedback. Also make sure that different teams at your organization do not become siloed and lose track of what a good customer experience is.
Higher average time to resolution
This is a metric most customer support teams are judged by, and the goal is typically to keep ART as low as possible. After all, the faster you're closing tickets, the more your CSAT is improving and the more tickets your support agents are resolving.
However, while it makes sense to aim to reduce this metric by as much as possible for level 1 and 2 support, level 3 support is often complex and difficult to provide, so expect that your average time to resolution is going to reflect that.
It's not uncommon for some level 3 support tickets to take hours or even days to resolve.
And that's okay! At this support tier, you want to make sure your agents are carefully evaluating every support ticket that comes in and providing comprehensive support.
Siloes between product and support teams
Level 3 customer support teams have the difficult task of aligning with coworkers in product and development to make sure that bugs that are reported by customers are recorded, recreated and fixed. And that these fixes are communicated to your customer base.
It's essential for them to make sure that siloes are constantly monitored and torn down when they arise. But, depending on how your company handles the process of bug reporting and resolution, these siloes can be prolific and difficult to destroy.
Level 3 support software like Fullview can help by bringing all this information under one roof and create an end-to-end technical support solution that includes support agents, subject matter experts and developers.
We've made sure to include features — like easy sharing, the ability to add team members and different access levels — to make sure that every person at your company is on the same page and working with the same information in as transparent a way as possible.
Level 3 teams often deal with churn-critical issues
In addition to everything else we've just described, level 3 support specialists are often also dealing with issues that are churn critical! And customer churn can make or break your company — especially if you're on a subscription-based pricing model. This is why it's important to invest in your level 2 support team: the right software, the right training and some leeway in terms of metrics like ART can go a long way towards guaranteeing that as few customers as possible churn.
How technology has transformed level 3 tech support
Customer support today looks very different than it did just a few years ago. Technology has enabled companies to provide better, faster, and more personalized customer experiences.
These days, a typical support flow looks like this:
- A customer reaches out with a problem and interacts with a chatbot. The chatbot uses natural language processing to assess the customer's issue and provide the best solution.
- The customer requests to speak with an agent, so a support ticket is opened and assigned on a help desk software.
- A support agent then reviews the user's latest session replays to quickly and accurately understand the customer's problem.
- The agent then solves the ticket over chat or starts a cobrowsing session with the user to guide them through their problem.
- The customer's query is resolved and they are then prompted to rate their interaction so support teams can gather data to continue improving their processes.
In nearly every stage mentioned above, there is some technological component. Technology has enabled companies to provide customers with better, more personalized customer support experiences that are faster and more efficient than ever before.
In the next section, we'll dive into the kinds of software that level 3 support uses.
Level 3 support software
Level 3 customer support is a challenging job — made even more challenging by the fact that most support software (like helpdesk software) don't have all the tools necessary for the process of bug reporting and technical support. In order to increase the speed and efficiency of a technical customer support team, you'll need to invest in the following kinds of software:
- Session replays software
- Cobrowsing or remote desktop software
- Console logs
- Monitoring tools
- Documentation and knowledge base software
- Security tools
- Data recovery software
Session replays software
Session replay tools allow companies to auto-record user sessions in their app and watch those recordings back to see bugs and issues in context. For level 3 customer support teams, one of the hardest parts of the job is diagnosing and recreating bugs going solely off of what they are being told by the users who experienced the problem.
With session replay tools, this is no longer an issue because support staff can simply search for and watch the relevant replay to see exactly what played out on their customer's screen during the session. This makes the job of diagnosing bugs incredibly easy and is handy for those times when bugs cannot be recreated. Most session replay tools also have sharing functions, so relevant replays can be sent along to the development team for further review.
There are many session replay tools on the market (we've even done an extensive breakdown of the best session replay tools in 2023) but Fullview session replays is uniquely suited to technical support teams because it also includes cobrowsing and console logs.
Diagnosing bugs is hard if you cannot take a peek under the hood to see what steps your user took that led to the bug, their network and browser info, whether they displayed signs of frustration like rage clicks, and what console errors and warnings were triggered during their session. Troubleshooting software allows you to do just that by collecting and displaying all of that information for easy review.
Fullview Console comes under this umbrella and it's available to view both during a session replay (as shown in the image above — the right-hand side displays the console logs) and on cobrowsing calls so technical support agents can see exactly what is going on on their user's side in real-time or while watching a historical user session recording.
Cobrowsing & remote access
Diagnosing bugs is only one part of the equation — level 3 customer support staff are also responsible for helping their customers solve these technical issues. Often, doing so over chat or email is challenging simply because of how complex these issues tend to be to fix. In those cases, having a remote access or cobrowsing solution can really help speed up time to resolution.
Both remote access and cobrowsing software give customer support agents access to another user's system so they can control it with an independent cursor — even if they are hundreds of miles away! In the click-through demo above, you can see exactly what that looks like and how it works.
Remote access and cobrowsing are often better options for support agents than screen sharing alone because, instead of having to verbally communicate the steps to solve a technical problem, level 3 support agents can request screen control and solve the issue themselves.
While remote access gives support agents access to a user's entire system, cobrowsing only gives them access within their own product, making it much safer and less prone to security breaches like remote access scams. A cobrowsing solution like Fullview is also 100% GDPR compliant because it automatically detects and blurs sensitive information during calls.
Level 3 customer support staff also need access to software monitoring tools for network and system monitoring. These tools help technical support agents identify the root cause of issues and monitor system health.
Documentation and knowledge base software
Since technical level 3 customer support staff are in charge of maintaining and updating technical documentation, they need a good knowledge base software to house, organize and access this content.
Technical support staff are also tasked with identifying, reporting and helping to address security breaches, so they need software that enables them to monitor and access security threats.
Data recovery software
Level 3 support agents also need to step in and help customers in cases where data is lost or corrupted, so they need software that allows them to do so.
Wrapping things up
In conclusion, level 3 customer support plays a critical role in providing advanced technical assistance and maintaining high customer satisfaction in the tech space. While level 1 and 2 support may address common issues, level 3 support tackles complex problems that require specialized knowledge and expertise.
Despite its importance, level 3 support often faces challenges, such as a lack of specialized software solutions and difficulty in diagnosing technical issues solely based on customer descriptions. However, investing in the right software tools, like session replay, console logs, cobrowsing, and monitoring tools, can significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of level 3 support agents.
By embracing customer-centric approaches, aligning workflows with customer journeys, and fostering collaboration between support and development teams, businesses can empower their level 3 support agents to excel in diagnosing and resolving complex technical challenges, ultimately leading to high customer retention and satisfaction.