Tier 1 Help Desk | Launch Plan

Tier 1 Help Desk - ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft has been providing help desk outsourcing services for both IT and non-IT companies since 2007.

Tier 1 help desk: the essence

Tier 1 help desk functions as a single point of entry for all incoming requests and solves basic technical issues of your employees (such as password resets) or deals with customer inquiries concerning your product or service (e.g., product functionality, service description). More complex technical issues are escalated from Level 1 (L1) help desk to L2 technical support team.

Level 1 help desk setup plan

When establishing Tier 1 IT help desk for employees, the setup plan depends on the maturity of your company’s IT infrastructure and IT landscape complexity. When creating T1 help desk for customers, you should take into account the complexity of products or services the help desk will deal with.

General setup steps for both options include:

Level 1 help desk setup plan

1. Planning of Tier 1 help desk launching

Duration: from 2 weeks

  • Define the users your help desk will provide support to.
  • Define the scope of your help desk, including the types of issues (e.g., software usage issues, service description inquiries) your help desk needs to process, the estimated number of monthly requests, and the number of required help desk team members.
  • Identify the goals of your help desk (increasing user support cost-effectiveness, improving CSAT and user adoption rate, etc.).
  • Calculate the budget and create a risk management plan.

ScienceSoft’s tip: if you see that you are likely to receive complex tech requests from users, consider establishing Level 2 help desk too.

2. Tier 1 help desk design

Duration: from 2 weeks

  • Define help desk KPIs (including first response time, resolution rate, etc.).
  • Draw up standard operating procedures (including standards for ticket resolution, reporting process, etc.).
  • List communication channels you currently use for business communication in your company (e.g., phone, email, messengers) and decide on additional support channels relevant for your users.

3. Choosing between in-house and outsourced Tier 1 help desk

If Tier 1 help desk is done in-house

Hiring and training help desk staff

Duration: 1-3 months

  • Define the qualifications a help desk manager and L1 agents need to possess according to your user support needs.
  • Conduct onboarding training with hired help desk staff to get them familiar with your company’s organizational structure and products or services you provide.

ScienceSoft’s tip: Establish a mentoring program involving experienced help desk agents to help newcomers handle calls, use ticketing software, and master other user support skills.

Ticket management software selection and customization

Duration: from 1 week (for ready-made software)

  • Choose between a free and functionally limited ready-to-use ticket management software, a paid solution with extended features (e.g., omnichannel support, AI-driven chatbots), or custom software completely fitting your case.
  • Perform customization (for platform-based software) and integrate it with required IT systems (e.g., CRM, ERP).

ScienceSoft’s tip: The tool you implement should provide ticket management automation, omnichannel and monitoring functionality, a knowledge base for agents and users, integration and customization capabilities.

If Tier 1 help desk is outsourced

Vendor selection

Duration: ~3 months

If you consider outsourced help desk to get reduced help desk costs, up to 24/7 service provision and an experienced support team, carefully approach the vendor selection process.

  • Find 3-5 vendors with experience in providing help desk services.
  • Request cost estimate and service presentation from the pre-selected vendors.
  • Discuss KPIs, service provision protocols, reporting methods, and knowledge transfer terms.
  • Negotiate SLA and L1 help desk costs.
  • Decide on the most appropriate help desk vendor and sign a collaboration contract.

4. Help desk launch

Duration: 2-4 weeks

To launch Tier 1 help desk, either an in-house system administrator or an outsourced help desk team should check whether all help desk staff have access and the necessary permissions to help desk software accounts and functions, configure help desk infrastructure, set up communication channels for users, and perform a help desk demo run.

Staff required for Tier 1 help desk

Project manager

  • Plans and manages the help desk budget.
  • Decides on help desk staffing and/or outsourcing needs according to the number and types of issues the help desk deals with.
  • Defines help desk project KPIs and oversees their achievement.
  • Designs or approves Tier 1 help desk processes (such as escalation, reporting procedures).

Tier 1 help desk team lead

  • Establishes goals and KPIs for the help desk team and manages their achievement.
  • Plans agents’ work schedules to ensure sufficient support coverage during operating hours.
  • Arranges and oversees help desk team professional development.
  • Monitors help desk channels to collect help desk performance data.

L1 support agent

  • Processes incoming user requests via phone, SMS, email, messengers, etc.
  • Creates tickets for all reported issues and collects as much information about incidents as possible.
  • Handles common user support cases (e.g., password reset, product usage guidance), and basic technical tasks (reinstalling basic software applications, etc.).
  • Escalates complex tech issues to a higher-tier support team.

System administrator

  • Installs, configures and monitors all necessary help desk software and hardware.
  • Resolves arising help desk software and hardware issues to ensure stable help desk operations.
  • Provides timely updates of help desk software.

Level 1 help desk sourcing models

All in-house


  • Complete control over the help desk infrastructure and resources.
  • A help desk team has a deep understanding of your internal structure and processes, products and services you provide.


  • High help desk setup and management risks.
  • Longer establishment period due to staff hiring and training, and help desk software selection and customization.
  • A high turnover of L1 agents.
  • Risk of underloaded agents (e.g., an agent can handle 400-500 tickets per month, so two agents are needed to cover 12/5. If an organization has less than 800 tickets, agents will be underloaded).

L1 help desk resources are partially outsourced


  • Augmented in-house L1 help desk team with experienced third-party L1 agents to quickly handle the increased number of support requests.
  • Optimized L1 help desk costs by easily scaling up and down the number of L1 agents according to the volume of incoming inquiries.


  • May be challenging to synchronize in-house and outsourced teams’ work.

The entire L1 help desk is outsourced to a third-party vendor


  • Optimal L1 help desk costs.
  • L1 help desk team scalability.
  • Pre-vetted Tier 1 help desk team.
  • Up to 24/7 service coverage.


  • Possible cooperation challenges with other departments of your company (e.g., data exchange between the help desk and a sales department in case of software product help desk), that can be mitigated by their data integration.
  • Challenging communication with in-house L2 help desk should be well-established and carefully managed.

Help desk ticket management software we recommend

As L1 help desk provision usually requires dealing with a large number of user inquiries, you will need reliable ticket automation software. Here are Tier 1 help desk ticketing management tools we recommend.

Jira Service Management


Strong performer in The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Service Management, Q4 2019.

  • Prioritizing, tracking, and assigning incoming requests from various sources (including Slack and Microsoft Teams) to suitable L1 agents.
  • Issue root cause analysis to quickly document the root cause of an issue and optimize resolution guidance.
  • Knowledge base for users’ self-service.


Collaboration-focused IT help desk for small and medium-sized companies.


  • Free (for up to 3 agents).
  • Standard: $20/agent/month.
  • Premium: $40/agent /month.

ServiceNow ITSM


A 7-time Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for ITSM Tools.

  • Incident management functionality to classify tickets by impact and urgency and assign them to agents.
  • Employee service center serves as a single source of information for your employees.
  • Virtual Agent for personalized conversations with employees or customers to help resolve L1 issues automatically.


IT help desk for companies with 1000+ employees.


ITSM Standard:

  • $15/user/month*.
  • $100/user/month**.

ITSM Professional:

  • $20/user/month*.
  • $150/user/month**.

Virtual Agent ITSM:

  • $2,083.30/month.

* Unrestricted Subscription Meter (any users with a username, password, and a status of “active”).

** Fulfiller Subscription Meter (users have full admin, developer, or usage rights).

ServiceNow CSM


Leader in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center

  • Automatically assigning tickets to L1 agents based on their availability.
  • Predictive intelligence for analyzing case descriptions to automatically categorize tickets and recommend solutions to agents to resolve issues faster.
  • AI-powered chatbots to resolve common customer issues without an L1 agent’s involvement. The interaction context can be transferred to an L1 agent when human help is needed.
  • Self-service portal for customers with a knowledge base.


Proactive support of 1000+ customers.


  • CSM Standard: $125/user /month.
  • CSM Professional: $175/user/month.
  • Virtual Agent CSM: $25 000/year.
  • 1,000 additional portal visits: $60/month.

Dynamics 365 Customer Service


Leader in the 2020 Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center.

  • Automated ticket management functionality (creation, routing, escalation, etc.)
  • Multiple communication channels (phone, email, web, chats, social networks, SMS).
  • AI-driven recommendations of knowledge articles for agents.
  • Customizable templates for user surveys to get feedback on the help desk agents’ work.


Ticket management requiring multiple integrations with business applications.


  • Professional: $50/user/month.
  • Enterprise: $95/user/month.
  • Remote Assist add-on: $65/user/month.
  • Power Virtual Agent add-on: $1,100/tenant/month.
  • Customer Insights add-on: $1,500/tenant/month.

Salesforce Service Cloud


Leader in Gartner CRM Customer Engagement Center Magic Quadrant for 12 consecutive years.

  • An agent console with integrated telephony, digital channels, and a 360-degree customer view to resolve user issues faster.
  • Trailhead (free online learning platform to increase help desk agent productivity and grow skills).
  • AI-powered contextual recommendations for L1 agents to follow and provide a better customer experience.
  • Einstein chatbots to handle routine requests and optimize your L1 agents’ workload.


Customer-oriented ticket management requiring extensive AI capabilities.


  • Essentials: $25/user/month.
  • Professional: $75/user/month.
  • Enterprise: $150/user/month.
  • Unlimited: $300/user/month.
  • Einstein AI & Analytics add-on: $50/user/month*.

* Requires an annual contract.



Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice 2020 in Digital Experience Platforms.

Can serve as a ticketing system due to its customization and integration friendliness.

  • Creating, prioritizing, and organizing L1 tickets into groups (new, important, etc.).
  • Color-marking to highlight top priority tickets.
  • Tools for building a knowledge base with articles and FAQ for users to handle simple and repetitive questions.


Cost-effective solution with basic ticketing capabilities.


  • SharePoint Online Plan 1: $5.00/user/month*.
  • SharePoint Online Plan 2: $10.00/user/month*.
  • Office 365 E3: $20.00/user/month*.

* Annual commitment.

Choose Help Desk Software with Expert Help

ScienceSoft is ready to assist you with the selection of the right automated ticketing system to cut help desk operational costs and increase user satisfaction by reducing issue resolution time.

Level 1 help desk costs

Help desk costs may vary greatly from project to project. Here we provide essential Tier 1 help desk cost factors:

General cost factors

  • The number of L1 tickets (per month).
  • Service time coverage - 24/7, 12/5, 8/5, etc.
  • IT landscape complexity or product/service type (higher complexity implies more skilled staff or a higher price per ticket).
  • Whether a knowledge base is to be maintained (although the maintenance incurs cost, the knowledge base may reduce the number of tickets).

Outsourced model cost factors

  • SLA - response time, first contact resolution, etc. (a higher service level may cause a higher price per ticket).

Note: Additional costs of in-house L1 help desk include ticketing software customization and licenses (usually charged per user) and maintenance of the ticketing software.

The price of a ticket for outsourced L1 help desk greatly depends on the number of tickets per month. Here are sample prices to get the picture:

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Time coverage

The number of L1 tickets per month

Price per ticket

Consider professional Level 1 help desk services

ScienceSoft L1 help desk services are backed up with 32-year experience in IT and 14-year experience in help desk and application support.

Tier 1 help desk consulting

  • Designing Tier 1 help desk.
  • Drawing up Tier 1 help desk launch plan.
  • Outlining human resources needed for a help desk setup.
  • Defining an optimal help desk sourcing model.
  • Selecting ticket management software.
  • Defining help desk process and team KPIs (first response time, resolution rate, etc.).

Outsourced Level 1 help desk

  • Defining a number of L1 help desk tickets per a required period (e.g., a week, a month).
  • Calculating price per ticket.
  • Defining help desk KPIs and service provision protocols.
  • Performing knowledge transfer from your company to our help desk team.
  • Delivering L1 help desk tech support according to defined SLA.
  • Providing comprehensive reporting (regular performance reports, incident reports with root cause analysis).
About ScienceSoft

About ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft is a global IT consulting and IT services company headquartered in McKinney, TX, US. Since 2007, we provide help desk outsourcing services and application support services to help reduce our customers’ support costs and increase the user satisfaction score. Being ISO 9001 and ISO 27001-certified, we rely on a mature quality management system and guarantee cooperation with us does not pose any risks to our customers' data security.