Zero Level Support – The support organisation's new secret!

Blog post   •   Dec 11, 2013 13:06 GMT

Common challenges facing a Support Manager or Head of Support (designations vary from company to company) nowadays are to review their value and to enhance the value of their organisation. So what is it that defines value for a support organisation nowadays? And why is Zero Level Support mentioned as a value-adding opportunity for support organisations?

The nature of these challenges varies, depending on the size of the support organisation, the number of customers, incoming cases and the breadth of support (also known as the service catalogue) offered by the organisation. Common KPIs (measured values) are "response times", "resolution rates", "rapid implementation of new support requirement", "customer satisfaction" and "employee loyalty".

Common support model at present

The model for the most common service and support deliveries is often similar in many companies. It's simple and easy to work with. The example below describes a very common support organisation regardless of the size of the organisation or customer segment targeted:

  • When a user contacts their support service, initially a Level 1 technician attempts to respond to and solve all questions, which can include help with simple problems and general "How do I?" questions. As a rule, these are registered as an interaction/incident in a case management system.
  • If the question is more complex, the user is passed on to a Level 2 technician. Level 2 questions might be, for example, advanced functions, known faults in the products or faults that have arisen. At this point cases that need to be passed on are usually converted into a "problem". Resolved cases are closed as incidents.
  • If the Level 2 technician is unable to help the caller, a Level 3 technician has to be contacted, sometimes by the user himself/herself or by the Level 2 technician. Cases that are resolved without a major work input are generally closed as a "problem". In cases that require more significant action, the problem is escalated to a "change" - a change that needs to be reviewed and, if necessary, to be planned so that it can be implemented.

If we visualise this model as a funnel – we can also see some of the most common KPIs for a normal support organisation.

  • Level 1 requires a high resolution rate, approximately 80 per cent, as it often involves "How do I?" questions, password-related matters or basic troubleshooting. The response times for Level 1 vary significantly, making comparisons difficult, although as a general guideline it is between 30 seconds and 1 minute.
  • Level 2 has a relatively high resolution rate, approximately 20 per cent as a rule. There is also a lower ambition for response times here. This can be because the resolution rate is governed by action from Level 3, or because staffed Level 2 technicians are often working on parallel projects.
  • Level 3 often has no response times or resolution rates, although there is increasingly an aim to reduce the number of "known problems".

Another issue that I feel the "funnel" image makes clear is that the depth of support knowledge is hidden and retained within the organisation like a secret. This gives rise to questions like:

  • Why can't Level 2 resolve more questions by making the knowledge available there?
  • By the same token, why can't Level 1 resolve more questions if the knowledge exists within the company?
  • How many of the "How do I?" questions could the user resolve himself/herself if the knowledge and the information were also available to them?

The advantages of Zero Level Support

Zero Level Support is not only there to benefit the end user, but also to provide the support organisation with opportunities to share information and knowledge, in such a way that the resolution rate improves, response times are shortened, customer satisfaction increases and training costs are reduced with the aid of internal courses.

It is Zero Level Support that makes "the secret of support" more readily available by means of displaying and offering more information and knowledge via, for example, a Self Service solution.

My experience from projects in which work with Zero Level Support through a Self Service solution saw the number of incoming "How do I?" questions fall by 20-30 per cent also shows that there was a drop of almost 40 per cent in password-related questions. Values that were maintained for a long time.

The hidden secret

The hidden secret of building up a successful support organisation including Zero Level Support involves managing the information and knowledge that flows within the company in such a way that the support organisation can access it and help others to provide help. There are lots of people in various companies, roles and positions that can contribute to making your particular support organisation successful.

What are your experiences in this area? What lessons have you learnt from your company, your role as end user, support manager, employee? Please feel free to leave a comment or contact me by email – I'd be delighted to share my experiences of this with you.

Jannica Wahlund, JanCan Konsult,

Related links:

Blog – Is Self Service good or bad for me as a customer or employee, or for my company?
White paper - Seven steps for success with Zero Level Support
Introducing Zero Level Support
Blog – Zero Level Support – an introduction and guide