If you’re like many CIOs or IT Service Desk Managers, you’re probably looking at the data and wondering how next to improve operations. Or perhaps the ask to improve certain metrics or costs are coming from executive leadership as a goal for 2021. Whatever the reason, you’re likely looking to maximize your service desk metrics. But which metrics can be optimized, and what can be done to optimize each?
In this blog post, we discuss seven service desk KPIs to review and optimize in 2021, plus tips for optimizing each one.
Ticket Volume Trends
The first KPI is the simplest: ticket volume trends. You probably already know your trends but if not, a first step to doing any kind of improvements is evaluating your ticket trends and then taking action based on what you find.
There are two ways to measure ticket volume to get more valuable information:
- Overall Ticket Volume
- Ticket Volume Per Customer
Overall Ticket Volume is the easiest to measure. If you’re using a ticket management software like BMC Remedy or Service Now, it’s likely that your total number of tickets are already summarized. Yet if not, or if you want to measure manually, here’s how to do it.
Add up all the tickets for a given time frame (say, daily or monthly). That number is your overall ticket volume. Once you see what that number is, you can begin looking at the number in two ways:
The first is the breakdown of those ticket trends over time. Are there more tickets now than there were six months ago? Are there less? And no matter what, is there an immediately logic reason for the uptick, like a migration or a rush of new employees? If not, then you now have a good use case for analysis… and likely identification of a problem or a process issue.
The second is the breakdown of issues within those trends. How steady does the breakdown of issues hold up over time? Are there any spikes in specific incidents that might point to a Problem? What about Requests? And even if the trends stay constant, a question to ask yourself is: “What can the breakdown of these issues tell me about the state of my service desk?”
For example, a lot of password reset requests that are called in could signal a need for an easier self-service option or for customer training in how to do it themselves and how it saves the company money for users to reset their own passwords.
Ticket Volume Per Customer is the second metric to measure and analyze. To get to this KPI, you’ll need to take your total ticket volume per period and divide it by the total number of customers/end users. What is the final number? This number is a flag to watch and lower over time.
FCRR – First Call Resolution Rate
The second KPI to measure and optimize in 2021 is your first call resolution rate. First Call Resolution Rate (FCRR) is measured by taking the total number of tickets resolved and dividing by the total number of tickets:
FCRR = Total Resolved Tickets / Total Number of Tickets
A high FCRR means that your team is doing a great job resolving tickets as soon as they’re received; too high, and it might mean that your team is merely closing tickets, rather than keeping them open and working on issues until resolved. At least 70% or above is a good number to shoot for.
Another KPI to measure is SLA compliance. This KPI involves not only getting the work done and answering and resolving tickets, but also getting them done within the SLA guidelines.
In most ITIL-based service desks – even internally staffed service desks – there Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in place to define the service delivery. SLAs often include items like:
- Total ticket volume
- First call resolution
- Time to resolution
- Time per agent
- Escalation percentage
- Uptime percentage
- Root Cause Analysis
- Problem Resolution
Obviously, your service desk should comply with agreed-upon SLA standards or else optimize until you can. One way to bump up your availability and response time, especially at the Level ¾ level, is to outsource escalation response to a third party experienced in problem resolution.
End User Satisfaction
The fourth KPI to measure is End User Satisfaction. This KPI measures how satisfied the end users feel with the service provided. To measure this, you will need to have a Net Promoter Score (NPS) or some other feedback mechanism in place. You can also run a one-time survey to your end user base asking for survey responses and satisfaction scores.
Software Asset Utilization Rate
The fifth KPI to measure is Software Asset Utilization Rate. This KPI measures the percentage of products and licenses in use by the organization. It’s also an important metric to understand to stay in licenses compliance, especially with vendors like Microsoft.
There are two common ways to slice this metric:
Total Used vs Total Owned Software
For example, let’s say you want to see how many Office 365 licenses are granted but aren’t installed on a computer. This would tell you how many licenses are being wasted, and identify a potential area for reduction or reallocation. This metric is also important for understanding where you might have software waste; if you have 50 licenses of an obscure product but only 3 are used, you have an opportunity to save money and reallocate that budget line item elsewhere. On the flipside, if you have more end users using a core product than you technically have bulk licenses available, then you might be in violation of your licensing agreement. Identifying this issue before you face repercussions is critical.
Unallocated Licenses vs Total Licenses
This metric is also important for understanding where you might have software waste; if you have 50 licenses of an obscure product but only 3 are used, you have an opportunity to save money and reallocate that budget line item elsewhere. Or maybe you just have a license that’s too advanced for your needs, and dropping down to a lower tier might be what you need.
Handle Time per Ticket (Average Handle Time)
The sixth KPI is Average Handle Time. This KPI reveals the average time it takes for your support team to handle and resolve tickets. To measure handle time, you’ll need to combine all of the time taken to work a ticket – including post-ticket documentation time – divided by the number of tickets worked.
Cost per Ticket
The final KPI to measure and optimize in 2021 is the Cost per Ticket. This is the be-all, end-all KPI if you want to manage and optimize service desk costs and measures how much your service desk costs per ticket. To get this number, you’ll divide the total service desk operating cost by the number of tickets within the same timeframe.
The resulting number is especially telling when you compare it against end user satisfaction and First Call Resolution Rate (FCRR). If your ticket cost is high but so is your end user satisfaction, then you know that you probably don’t need more training or service desk agents, and that your costs should be contained somewhere else (such as software or other hidden costs). If your ticket cost is high but your end user satisfaction and FCRR is low, then there’s a problem; in that case, adding more service desk team members, improving knowledge management, or adding more training would likely help on top of reducing costs.
Cost Per Ticket can be impacted by:
- Overall Team Size. The team you have matters. Too low, and the agent utilization shoots through the roof along with burnout, absenteeism, and overtime costs. Too high, and utilization drops while costs rise.
- Hourly Costs per Agent. The higher your per-hour costs, the higher your cost per ticket. Wages have a big impact on your operations costs, and thus is a good area for optimization.
- Agent Turnover and Attendance. A staff with a high rate of absenteeism or turnover affects your costs. Training of new staff and overtime to existing staff adds up.
- Agent Utilization. How “utilized” or busy your agents are directly impacts costs. The higher the utilization, the lower the per-ticket cost.
- Facility Costs. It goes without saying that it’s less expensive to have a building to house your service desk agents than to use remote agents to handle your service desk needs.
- Software and Training Costs. High training costs or software packages are included in the overall operations costs. Too much training and it sits idle; too little and it could impact agent performance. Finding the sweet spot is key.
- Benefits Packages. The costs of benefits impacts your overall operations costs. Remote, outsourced agents can help alleviate some of the burden. So you keep good benefits for your core team, but outsource some of the work where it makes financial sense.