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 Sarah Olson, Senior associate, content marketing

Last updated July 13, 2023

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 on their own through a knowledge base or self-service portal when possible.

To prove that you are delivering on that promise for employees (in the case of a help desk) and customers (in the case of a service desk), you need to establish metrics.

But with so much data available to consider, it can be hard to narrow in on the help desk metrics or service desk metrics that really matter for your organization.

Below we identified a few important customer service metrics that can help you provide better service in both scenarios. These metrics can help assess the efficiency and quality of the service you provide, so you can continually optimize for customer satisfaction. (Remember, employees are your internal customers!)

What are help desk metrics and KPIs?

Help desk metrics and KPIs are a quantitative way for support teams to measure performance and the business’s ability to successfully serve external customers or internal customers (employees). Most often, the purpose of a help desk is IT support. But some businesses broaden it to a more general term for a customer support, customer service, or customer advocacy team.

12 help desk metrics and KPIs

  • Ticket volume
  • Ticket volume by support channel
  • Support tickets opened vs. solved
  • Ticket distribution
  • Response time
  • Resolution time
  • First contact resolution
  • Backlogs and predicted backlogs
  • Customer satisfaction ratings
  • Support agent performance
  • Customer Effort Score
  • Transfer rate

1. Ticket volume

Both your IT service management (ITSM) team and your customer service team should monitor the volume of incoming service requests, aka support tickets, you’re receiving. A ticket creation report in your help desk software or customer support software should show you the ticket volume your ITSM or support team is managing during any given time period. Once you get a sense of how many tickets your team can handle in a day, week, or month, this metric will be incredibly important to plan staffing.

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. Different channels require different types of staffing and skills. Being able to track channel usage is vitally important to optimize the efficiency of your support team, the quality of each resolution, and where you may need to move, train, or hire staff.

3. Support tickets opened vs. solved

Another performance metric you should be looking at is the number of tickets solved. In a healthy help desk 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 that help you identify certain topics or products that result in more tickets than others. It’s important for a support manager to look at how support requests are distributed across different topic areas. This is where you can 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 average response time, is the time between a support request being created and the first documented action taken by a service desk agent. The longer this is, the more you jeopardize employee or customer satisfaction. Most people want, at least, an acknowledgement 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 issue is being worked on. During a ticket spike, it’s a good idea to manage expectations for your help desk and service desk customers. If you’re transparent about longer than normal wait times instead of hiding it, people will usually be understanding.

help desk metrics

6. Resolution time

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

help desk metrics

Build a best-in-class customer self-service experience

This free guide is designed to help you create the right practices internally and build the best self-service experience you can for your customers.

7. First contact resolution

First contact resolution refers to tickets that are solved on 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 their customer experience. 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 performance metric to target for improvement.

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 workflows are great ways of dealing with backlog issues. You can also encourage support agents to tackle ticket backlogs proactively. Related, your predicted backlog can help you learn from the past and prepare for the future. Being able to see which teams or individuals are falling behind, as well as 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 surveys, often referred to as CSAT surveys. CSAT surveys can be administered following a ticket resolution, and once customers complete them, you can see successful interactions or drill down into tickets where the customer wasn’t happy. Specific to customer service, 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 as well as illuminate opportunities for additional training. Reviewing these metrics on a regular basis 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 strength will make your team more efficient and help you provide better service to employees and customers.

11. Customer Effort Score

Customer Effort Score (CES) is a customer service metric that measures the amount of 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.” (Include a comment section, too, so customers can describe what made their experience either a challenge or a breeze.) Then, calculate the average number based on all your survey responses.

Sending out CES surveys for various customer interactions helps companies identify which processes need simplifying or streamlining. Customer Effort Scores might reveal how hard it is for buyers to return an item, update their payment information, or troubleshoot a software issue.

Measuring customer service metrics is important, but just as important is understanding what they really mean, so you can harness valuable insight from the data without becoming overwhelmed.

12. Transfer rate

Transfer rate is the percentage of tickets that agents end up transferring 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. 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 desk metrics

Here are a few help desk best practices to help your team improve your metrics and KPIs.

Deploy a chatbot to deliver faster responses

Chatbots can help lower response and resolution times, reduce ticket backlog, and improve overall agent performance. Bots are also “always on,” enabling 24/7 support, reducing wait times, and enabling a help desk team to answer more tickets at once. Chatbots can recommend help center articles to empower employees to self-serve on a one-to-one level, saving agents time from answering repetitive requests. This gives agents time back to focus on higher-stake tasks.

Send satisfaction surveys to collect feedback

To improve your IT or HR help desk, collect employees’ feedback on how it currently operates. Their input will help IT or HR help desk agents understand where problems are happening and how they can be resolved. To collect feedback from your employees, set up triggers in your support software to automatically send a survey to employees when their tickets close. Ask survey questions about an employee’s 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, a knowledge base allows employees to search for and resolve issues on their own. This reduces the strain on the help desk team so they can solve more complicated issues that need 1:1 support. And, it’s a great way to ensure institutional is recorded and easy to access.

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.

Build a best-in-class customer self-service experience

This free guide is designed to help you create the right practices internally and build the best self-service experience you can for your customers.

Build a best-in-class customer self-service experience

This free guide is designed to help you create the right practices internally and build the best self-service experience you can for your customers.

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