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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Net Promoter and NPS are registered U.S. trademarks, and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are service marks, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld.