As much as we'd like to be able to deal with all issues ourselves, sometimes this is not possible and so we need to pass it to a more senior colleague to assist.
Escalation between different levels of IT Support is a standard process in modern IT companies. There is an industry standard called ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library).
The ITIL standard put boundaries in place for an IT organisation and creates a flow of tickets between the different levels of support. The below process flowchart shows the different levels of escalation within a typical service desk.
At Chalkline, we understand the importance of escalation within our Service Desk. It's important for the first & second line teams to not be bombarded with tickets, especially those which they may not know the resolution for.
The teams do communicate with each other and, if a ticket was escalated unnecessarily, the new assignee of the ticket will show the other member of staff what to do in the future, as well as creating a Knowledge Base article for other users to benefit from.
First line Support - Initial Response
The initial point of contact is based with first line support. At this stage the first line support team would be on hand to collect and collate as much information about the case as possible to ensure that the most efficient path is followed to solve issues. By completing this stage to a high standard, it will ensure that resolution time is reduced, and where possible minor cases will be resolved and the incident closed right away within the first line support. This is what we call a "first-time fix".
If at this point the first line support team are unable to resolve the incident, it will then be escalated to second line.
Within the second line support, the staff members are composed of members with greater technical experience & knowledge. This team have more time dedicated to investigate incidents, carry out diagnostics and produce a resolution. The second line support team can sometimes complete issues on site for clients for trickier tasks, like connecting up a conference room to IT equipment or replacing network equipment. In most cases, incidents can be resolved remotely, however site visits where necessary are available.
If the second line team are unable to resolve the issue, or if it seems to be a recurring problem, the incident then gets escalated to third line.
Third line support analysts have even more experience than the second line team and also have more time to dedicate on investigating each escalated ticket. They're able to see what the first & second line teams have tried thus far and escalate further if necessary (to management or to a third party). Third line analysts carry out highly technical, detailed tasks which would normally take the most time due to in depth investigation leading to resolution.
It's important to note that a third line escalation could also be in the way of a third party - for example the software developer of a particular application.