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Article 9 min read

12 help desk metrics to measure support performance

Here are 12 help desk metrics and KPIs to measure your business's ability to serve customers or employees.

By Hannah Wren, Staff writer

Last updated March 6, 2024

Whether you’re managing a help desk or service desk, the rules of engagement are quite similar. People want a prompt answer when they have a question or problem. They also want to be empowered to solve issues independently through a knowledge base or self-service portal when possible.

To prove you’re delivering on that promise for customers (in the case of a help desk) and employees (in the case of a service desk), you need to establish help and service desk metrics. But with so much data to consider, it can be difficult to narrow in on the metrics that matter most.

Follow along to learn 12 key help desk metrics that can help you provide better service. By assessing the efficiency and quality of your service, these metrics enable you to continually optimize for customer and employee satisfaction.

More in this guide:

What are help desk metrics and KPIs?

Help desk metrics, aka service desk metrics, and key performance indicators (KPIs) are quantitative ways for support teams to measure performance and successfully serve external customers or internal customers (employees). Typically, a help desk is likened to IT support. However, some businesses broaden the term to include customer support, customer service, or customer advocacy teams.

12 help desk metrics and KPIs

1. Ticket volume

Both your IT service management (ITSM) and customer service teams should monitor the volume of incoming service requests, aka support tickets. A ticket creation report in your customer support or help desk software should show you the ticket volume your ITSM or support team manages at any given time.

Once you get a sense of how many tickets your team can handle in a day, week, or month, this help and service desk metric will be incredibly important for staffing purposes.

2. Ticket volume by support channel

Whether it’s customer service or internal help desk management, we now live in a world where people want to be in charge of how they talk to you. Because your customers’ channel preferences may vary, each channel can require different staffing and skills.

Tracking the ticket volume for each support channel is important for optimizing the efficiency of your support team and the quality of each resolution, as well as knowing where you may need to move, train, or hire staff.

3. Support tickets opened vs. solved

Another help and service desk metric you should look at is the number of tickets solved. In a healthy help or service desk, your tickets opened and tickets solved trend lines should be parallel. By looking at these metrics every week, you can make sure you’re keeping up with demand and identify trends in ticket volume.

For example, if resolutions are consistently behind, you may need to add more staff or look at other ways to increase efficiency. Or, if you see a sudden spike in new tickets opened, that can alert you to a service delivery issue or other disruption that needs attention.

4. Ticket distribution

If you’re using customer support software, you can add category tags to your tickets to help you identify certain topics or products that result in more tickets than others. Additionally, a support manager needs to look at how support requests are distributed across different topic areas.

This can help you determine if there is any correlation between satisfaction scores and low first-time responses to support requests. Monitoring your distribution can alert you to a recurring problem with your product or service, which can illuminate where you might need to add or expand on existing knowledge base content.

5. Response time

First response time, or first reply time, is the time between creating a support request and the first documented action a service desk agent takes. The longer this is, the more you jeopardize customer or employee satisfaction. Most people want, at least, an acknowledgment that someone has started looking into the issue in a reasonable amount of time after submitting their service request.

Requester wait time is the cumulative time that a support request is unresolved while an agent is working on the issue. During a ticket spike, managing expectations for your help desk and service desk customers is a good idea. People are usually understanding if you’re transparent about longer than normal wait times instead of hiding it.

Total first response time ÷ Total number of resolved tickets in a given period = First response time (FRT)

6. Resolution time

Resolution time, also known as average handle time in call centers, is an important KPI for your help and service desks. This is a key service and help desk metric because it tells you how long an employee or customer must wait for their issue to be resolved—an important aspect of the overall customer experience (CX).

Resolution time includes the time it takes for an agent to first respond to the ticket, which is another reason to try to decrease response times.

Total resolution time for all tickets solved ÷ Total number of tickets resolved = Average resolution time.

7. First contact resolution

First contact resolution (FCR) refers to tickets that are resolved after the first contact with a support agent or service desk staff. Your goal should be to increase your number of first contact resolutions because this means customers get an answer quickly and painlessly, improving your CX.

At the same time, resolving tickets on the first try can improve your efficiency because fewer agents have to touch the ticket. This makes it a good help and service desk metric to target for improvement.

Free guide: Top customer service metrics to measure

From customer satisfaction to resolution time, these are the key customer service metrics that measure performance and drive revenue.

8. Backlogs and predicted backlogs

Another key metric a service desk manager or ITSM help desk manager should consider is the ticket backlog in their support queue. If more requests are coming than can be handled every week, you’re building a backlog.

Providing a robust knowledge base or using automated help desk software are great ways to mitigate backlog issues. You can also encourage support agents to tackle ticket backlogs proactively. Your predicted backlog can help you learn from the past and prepare for the future.

Monitoring which teams or individuals are falling behind and the expected increase or decrease in ticket volume can help you plan and allocate resources accordingly.

9. Customer satisfaction ratings

Customer satisfaction is a very important customer service and IT service desk metric. Organizations can measure satisfaction with customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys.

Administer CSAT surveys following a ticket resolution. Once customers complete them, you can see successful interactions or drill into tickets where the customer wasn’t happy. There’s also the Net Promoter ScoreⓇ (NPS), which asks customers to rate you on a scale of one to 10 based on how likely they are to recommend your company to friends or family.

10. Support agent performance

Your help and service desk employees are critical to the success of your support operation, so it’s important to track individual performance and agent utilization. Performance statistics can help you identify which support agents are top performers and illuminate opportunities for additional training.

Reviewing these metrics regularly also allows you to optimize your staffing allocation based on channels where agents perform well and where ticket volumes are high. Playing to each individual’s strengths can help improve agent productivity and provide better service to employees and customers.

11. Customer Effort Score

Customer Effort Score (CES) is a customer service metric measuring the effort a customer must expend to resolve an issue, get an answer, or complete a task. To determine your CES rating, send a survey asking customers to rate the ease of their support interaction on a scale of “very easy” to “very difficult.” Then, calculate the average number based on all of your responses.

You can even include a comment section so customers can describe what made their experience a challenge or a breeze. Sending out CES surveys for various customer interactions helps companies identify what needs simplifying. For example, CES surveys might reveal how hard it is for buyers to return an item or troubleshoot a software issue.

12. Transfer rate

Transfer rate is the percentage of tickets that agents transfer to another team member or department. A high transfer rate could indicate that employees or customers are reaching the wrong first-touch agent. In this case, the help desk’s internal routing system may be the problem.

Intelligent automation can help route employees or customers to the right agent based on their request type, language, or area of expertise. For example, a chatbot can collect key customer information upfront and then route the conversation to the right person to help.

Best practices for improving your help and service desk metrics

Follow these help desk best practices to improve your help and service desk metrics and KPIs.

  • Deploy a chatbot to deliver faster responses

    Implementing chatbots can help lower response and resolution times, reduce the ticket backlog, and improve overall agent performance. Using generative AI, chatbots can answer customer questions using natural human language. Bots are also “always on,” offering 24/7 support, reducing wait times, and enabling a help or service desk team to answer more tickets simultaneously.

    Chatbots can also recommend help center articles so customers and employees are empowered to help themselves, freeing up agents to focus on higher-stake tasks.

  • Send satisfaction surveys to collect employee feedback

    To improve your IT or HR help desk, collect employee feedback on how it currently operates. Employee input can help internal teams understand where problems are happening and how to resolve them.

    To collect employee feedback, set up triggers in your support software to automatically send a survey to team members when their tickets close. Ask survey questions about the level of satisfaction with their service desk experience and how much effort they had to put in.

  • Offer a knowledge base or self-service portal

    A great way to improve satisfaction scores while lowering ticket backlog is to offer a knowledge base or self-service portal. Help desk software should always come with an option for a knowledge base.

    Often, people are just looking for a quick solution to a simple issue. Rather than submitting another ticket, customers and employees can search for and resolve issues independently using a knowledge base. This reduces the strain on the help desk team so they can solve more complicated issues that need one-on-one support.

  • Use automation, apps, and integrations to help your team work smarter, not harder

    Save your team time by ensuring they can access apps, systems, and integrations for change management, asset management, team collaboration, and more—all from one central place. Connecting popular apps like Slack and Zoom also reduces system switching.

    Another way you can help your team work smarter is by creating request forms that direct certain types of requests to the appropriate team and close tickets after a specified time frame.

Take your help desk experience to the next level

Now that you understand these important help and service desk metrics, it’s time to take the next step. Using a robust service solution like Zendesk, tracking metrics is only the beginning. With our help and service desk software, you can provide fast resolutions, boost agent productivity, and empower your customers and employees with helpful self-service options.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of NICE Satmetrix, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

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