Support (service)

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The support ( anglicized from English. To support "support") is a solution-oriented consulting work, for example in a call center or help desk . In the IT industry in particular, support is a common synonym for customer service . Within companies that work more in a sales and marketing-oriented manner without their own development, the support also provides the technical competence in the formulation of product specifications and for trade fairs and similar specialist presentations. The mutual support of those affected within self-help groups is called peer support .


The activity is sometimes roughly into two areas " customer service " (English. Customer service , primarily non-technical issues) and "technical assistance" (English. Technical support ) divided.

The aim is to process and resolve inquiries ( tickets ) from internal or external customers on site via e-mail , live support system , telephone, remote maintenance or other means of communication. Numerous software manufacturers offer products for the organization of customer service workflows, so-called trouble ticket systems .

The temporal availability of the service can be granted in different stages, for example "12 × 5" (during twelve hours on five working days) or "24 × 7" (24 hours, on all seven days of the week). Outside of local working hours, the service may have to be ensured by employees in other time zones or through on-call duty .


There is no uniform system for assessing priority. In the ITIL area, priority is based on the damage that a disruption causes or could cause to the company . For the service, a definition of priorities that is realistic and accepted for those involved should be drawn up between the service provider and the service recipient, which is used as a guideline in the event of disruptions. In the case of more complex calculations, urgency, impact and calculated values ​​are often taken into account against defined "service indicators".

This definition is often set out in writing in a maintenance contract (“ Service Level Agreement ”) and linked to corresponding conditions and obligations. An example:

A service is not available for a group of people, which prevents this group from doing their job. Damage critical to business. Very high priority. Default solution time: one hour.
Parts of the service are not available and the ability of several people to work is partially restricted. However, people can continue to work to a limited extent. High damage to business. Priority high. Default solution time: two hours.
A service is not available for a single person, which completely prevents the person seeking help from his work. Damage to business means. Medium priority. Default solution time: three hours.
Parts of the service are not available and the ability of a single person to work is partially restricted. The person can continue working. Little damage to business. Priority low. Solution time specification: defined.

The actual solution time for each activity can differ considerably from the service level agreements mentioned in the example. The person seeking help may also be asked to assign a personally felt urgency to his problem, so that the customer service can better plan temporal measures in the event of concurrent faults of the same priority.

The time until the first reaction is called the reaction time and the time until the problem is rectified is called the fault clearance time . These times can also be the subject of a maintenance contract .

Distribution of competencies

Customer service is often hierarchically divided to differentiate competencies . In most cases, a three-tier system is used:

  • The first level support (also: Helpdesk ) is the first point of contact for all incoming support questions. The employee is responsible for their complete recording including all necessary additional information and processes them largely independently according to their level of knowledge. The aim is to preselect the problems and solve as many as possible quickly, which can be made possible with the help of knowledge databases . First-level support is supported by second-level support.
  • The second-level support supports the first-level support, both through training in the workplace (ger .: training-on-the-job ) as well as more complex acquisition requests. Newly developed solutions are entered in knowledge databases so that the knowledge can be used for first-level support. If the complexity of a request exceeds the know-how or the technical possibilities of the second-level support, this is forwarded to the third-level support ("escalated"). Also, tickets , the solution of which an intervention in the program logic or data on the database requires to be forwarded to the third-level support.
  • The third-level support is made up of specialists of individual departments or of the manufacturer and is thus the highest level of escalation within a support organization.

For example, a two-tier model could be divided into frontline / front office and backline / back office .

Long term support

A special form of technical support is the so-called " long-term support " ( LTS for short ). This is used in the software industry and denotes there - for the respective manufacturers - a supply of software with updates that goes beyond the usual extent , which are usually only intended to correct safety-critical program errors . Specifically, this can mean that these updates will still be developed and offered even when a newer version branch is released.

See also