Today we’re taking a closer look at a buzzing Reddit conversation started by u/damagedproletarian. It was the monthly top post in r/MSPs so it’s fair to say that the topic raised some dust among MSPs and MSP staff alike.

The perspectives offered in the thread are real-time concerns MSPs are facing. As such, they caught our eye at Support Adventure as well. Working with over 200 MSPs and providing the best staff to them, we couldn’t let this topic fly under our radar – it hits too close to home.

However, this isn’t about us, it’s all about those tech gurus at the help desk and in IT support. These roles might seem straightforward, but there’s a whole world of skill and expertise behind them!

Picture this: You’re at your desk, coffee in hand, ready to tackle the day’s work. Suddenly, your computer freezes, or an error message pops up, halting your progress. Who do you call? The tech support team. They’re the ones who come to the rescue, often with a solution that seems like magic to the untrained eye. But is it really just simple magic, or is there more to these roles than meets the eye?

MSP Level 1 IT technician, wearing a cape

This conversation goes beyond fixing computers or troubleshooting software issues.

It’s a deeper exploration of the skills, challenges, and unrecognized expertise that define the world of tech support. It’s about understanding the value these professionals bring to the table and rethinking how we perceive and appreciate their roles in the ever-evolving landscape of technology.

As we dive into the insights and experiences shared by Reddit users, we come across different opinions and perspectives that shine the light on the complex nature of tech support. 

From the seasoned veterans to the fresh faces in the field, each technician brings a unique set of skills and knowledge that is crucial to the smooth operation of our tech-dependent world – know how to recognize it!

The discussion showed us the main points of conflict are somewhere between defining, utilizing, and correctly valuing Level 1 and in some cases, Level 2 IT support desk technicians:

  • How deep is the skill and knowledge required to fulfill the role of the Level 1 technician?
  • Is it a sign of stagnation or rather dedication when a tech stays in the “entry” role for years?
  • Does the “Tier 1 IT technician” title have a universal meaning for all MSPs?
  • Looking at the business perspective: short-term savings vs. long-term quality.

It’s time to deeper investigate these vital players in the tech industry and give them the attention they truly deserve. To do that, we will discuss the many faces of what makes for great IT service desk support.

Exploring Depths of Tech Support

Imagine you’re trying to fix a complicated gadget at home. Now, think of the tech support folks as your go-to handyman for all things tech. 

They’re not just following a manual; they’re like tech detectives, piecing together clues to solve your tech mysteries. Reddit user u/cubic_sq points out that these roles are often underestimated and undervalued. 

It’s easy to look at MSP Level 1 technicians as ticket-solving machines, but at closer consideration, there is so much more to it than technical skill:

  • Knowing how to communicate with customers
  • Knowing how to communicate with peers and seniors
  • Knowing how to escalate issues correctly and learn from it
  • Recognizing and categorizing issues by urgency

Some of these traits, like the soft skills required in customer service, are sometimes not valued enough but are immensely important if you want to have happy clients who keep coming back to you.

An IT technician Level 1 or 2 multitasking at a helpdesk like a superhero. Wearing a red cape and headphones.

At Support Adventure, for example, we test for these affinities in our IT technician testing and training program since it’s such a valuable trait. Using software correctly can be taught, but knowing how to explain a complex issue to a layperson simply is a bit harder and great communication skills can be rare to find.

That’s why it’s important to recognize and value this talent in IT technicians.

Experience: The Game-Changer

Now, some things do come with experience. Think of your favorite seasoned chef or a skilled carpenter. That’s what veteran tech support pros are like. They’ve seen it all and can fix issues swiftly and effectively. Users like u/cubic_sq highlight how invaluable this experience is, contrary to the belief that these roles are just stepping stones. Some technicians in these roles are seasoned pros with over 20 years in the game, yet, they don’t get the recognition they deserve.

Sticking around isn’t stagnation. As u/CaptainMericaa suggests, staying in tech support for a long time might seem like a red flag. But, as u/ChipmunkForward753 points out, it’s actually a sign of deep expertise and a commitment to quality service!

As an MSP, do you have staff working in the same roles for years? What is your opinion on “Level 1 IT technician veterans”? 

If individuals in this role can not only serve as the first line of defense in your MSP helpdesk but can also use their experience to improve the systems that run it – should be a great thing! However, in our opinion, it’s not good if IT Techs with more experience feel like they are stagnating. They can easily lose motivation! So make sure that, whichever role your techs are occupying, they have challenges they can overcome to gain more skill and boost their morale!

Recognizing the Real MVPs

At the end of the day, we are reminded by u/TechyGuyInIL and u/Longjumping-Ad877  that these tech wizards are the real MVPs, saving companies time and money. Yet, they often fly under the radar, especially in big companies. Why is that? Could it be because of the lack of understanding of how to properly define these roles? Is it the misunderstanding of what these roles actually bring to the table? Is it because of trying to cut corners and costs?

The answers could be many. However, they could be found somewhere between clearly defining these roles and thus knowing the real cost/value of hiring Level 1 and 2 IT Technicians.

A World of Different Experiences:

The tech support landscape is as varied as the problems it solves.

Imagine a world where on one end, as u/i81u812 points out, the environment feels like a bustling call center, where the focus is on quick fixes rather than deep technical knowledge. Here, the atmosphere is fast-paced, and the emphasis is on quantity over quality. It’s like being in a busy restaurant kitchen, where the goal is to get the orders out as quickly as possible, sometimes at the expense of the finer details. You don’t want your MSP helpdesk to be chaotic! To prevent all hell breaking loose, in our opinion, it is best to invest in a service desk coordinator (dispatcher).

On the other end of the spectrum, you have environments like those described by u/cubic_sq, where experienced technicians are the maestros of the tech world. In these settings, tech support is less about following a script and more about innovation and problem-solving. It’s akin to a gourmet chef experimenting with flavors and techniques to create a masterpiece. These techs are constantly learning, evolving, and leading the way in technological advancements.

Managed service provider as a superhero organization. People in capes as help desk staff.

The key to thriving in this diverse landscape is adaptability, a trait emphasized by u/Sufficient-Echo-5883 and u/Wendals87. We’ve found that it’s about finding the right balance between speed and thoroughness, like a juggler keeping multiple balls in the air without losing focus on any single one.

What Does a Title Mean?

When it comes to job titles in tech support, things can get a bit murky. As proposed by one insightful user, what exactly does “tier 1” or “tier 2” mean?

In some companies, a tier 1 technician might be the first line of defense, handling basic issues and customer queries. It’s like being the front desk clerk at a hotel, where you’re the first point of contact for guests.

Some may define the role of Level 1 IT Technician as represented in this table:

Skill AreaRoles and Responsibilities
Technical KnowledgeBasic troubleshooting, handling common hardware and software issues, password resets, and providing initial diagnosis.
Communication SkillsExplaining technical concepts in simple terms to users, active listening to understand user issues, and clear documentation of problems and solutions.
Soft SkillsPatience and empathy with users, ability to remain calm under pressure, and strong customer service orientation.

Some may define the role of Level 2 IT Technician as represented in this table:

Skill AreaRoles and Responsibilities
Technical ExpertiseAdvanced troubleshooting, dealing with more complex hardware and software issues, network troubleshooting, and providing in-depth technical support.
Communication SkillsAdvanced explanation of technical issues, effective communication with Level 1 technicians and other IT staff, and detailed reporting and documentation.
Soft SkillsProblem-solving skills, ability to work under minimal supervision, adaptability to various technical environments, and strong teamwork and collaboration skills.

In other organizations, the same title might involve more complex problem-solving, akin to being a detective piecing together clues to solve a mystery.

This lack of standardization in job titles reflects the wide range of responsibilities and skills found in tech support roles. It’s a reminder that a title is just a label and that the real value lies in the skills and expertise of the individual wearing it.

That’s why it’s important, in our view, to hire creative, smart and kind people – they are a great asset to any MSP environment and can adapt quickly!

The Business Side of Things:

Navigating the business aspect of MSP tech support is like walking a tightrope. On one side, as u/night_filter and u/i81u812 observe, companies often lean towards hiring cheaper, less skilled workers. It’s a cost-saving measure, similar to a business opting for budget materials to cut down on expenses. However, this approach can be shortsighted, like buying cheap paint that fades quickly, requiring frequent touch-ups.

On the flip side, as argued by u/xtc46 and u/mschuster91, recognizing and investing in skilled tech support professionals is crucial for delivering quality service. (We could help you with that too!)
It’s about understanding that these roles require a unique blend of technical knowledge, customer empathy, and adaptability. Investing in skilled tech support is akin to a restaurant choosing high-quality ingredients; it might cost more upfront, but the result is a superior product that keeps customers coming back!

So, what’s the takeaway? 

Lower-tier MSP tech support roles are much more than they seem. They require a mix of detective work, technical savvy, and top-notch customer service. It’s high time we recognize and appreciate these tech heroes for keeping our digital world running smoothly.

Please feel free to continue the conversation in the comments below and reach out to Support Adventure! Our MSP staffing solutions focus on vetted Level 1 or Level 2 (and even Level 3) IT Service Desk Technicians for your MSP.

Kristina @ Support Adventure

Hi there! I'm Kristina Antic, the voice behind the articles you've been enjoying on the Support Adventure blog.Welcome to the crossroads of travel, transformative career advice, and all things MSP!Since joining the team in 2020, I've been weaving my experiences from traveling across Europe and Asia into stories that resonate with tech enthusiasts and wanderlust-filled souls alike.From the world of translating and IT customer service to teaching, I’ve worn many hats, all of which I now bring together to help you navigate the exciting remote landscape.Whether you’re looking to kickstart your career in tech, dreaming of digital nomad life, or seeking the best MSP practices and staff, I’m here to share what I’ve learned in a way that feels like we’re just chatting over coffee.See you on the blog!


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