Information Technology Executive Stacy Gianoulis Looks at Four Critical KPIs for IT Help Desks

The wisdom — and for some, the warning — that “you cannot manage what you cannot measure” has broad application across the business landscape. However, one area where this tenet is especially applicable is IT help desks. Indeed, failing to establish, capture, track, and optimize relevant metrics is problematic at best and risky at all times.

While each organization needs to develop its own customized strategy, generally speaking, there are four critical key performance indicators (KPIs) that most IT help desks should leverage according to IT
executive Stacy Gianoulis: first call resolution rate, mean time to resolve, customer satisfaction, and cost per ticket.

First Contact Resolution Rate

First contact resolution (FCR) rate captures the percentage of IT help desk tickets that are resolved on the first call or contact (this KPI is also referred to as “percent resolved level 1 capable”). 

Commented Stacy Gianoulis, who currently serves as Vice President for Client Services and Support at Boston University: In today’s fast-paced world, FCR is key for improving client satisfaction, because we live in an instant gratification society. It is an extremely well-known metric for service desks and help desks.

Mean Time to Resolve

Mean time to resolve (MTTR) captures the average time it takes for an incident or ticket to transition from report to resolution (this KPI is also referred to as “average time to resolve”). Importantly, MTTR is measured in business operational hours, and not conventional clock hours. For example, if an agent opens a ticket at 4:30pm, clocks out of the office at 5:00pm, returns the next morning at 9:00am and closes that ticket at 9:30am, the duration from initiation to closure would be one hour; not 17 hours.

According to Stacy Gianoulis, one effective way for organizations to reduce MTTR is to deploy field technicians based on geography rather than availability. As such, the technician physically closest to the incident location would be assigned.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction captures the percentage of customers who are satisfied or very satisfied with the support they receive. Across the IT help desk landscape, this is arguably the most important — but also often the most challenging — KPI to measure, monitor and optimize, since unlike other metrics such as FCR or MTTR, there can be an inherently subjective aspect to the assessment. For example, a customer facing a major time crunch may self-report being “unsatisfied” because their issue was not resolved rapidly, even if objectively speaking it was indeed resolved in a reasonable amount of time given the nature and complexity of the problem.

Ultimately organizations must be very careful and precise when they craft questions that glean customer service-related feedback. Asking too many questions can lead to flawed conclusions, while asking too few can fail to capture what is actually happening.

Cost per Ticket

Cost per ticket captures as weighted average of two underlying metrics: cost per incident, and cost per service request (the formula is total monthly expenses for all IT help desk operations divided by the number of tickets).

To obtain an accurate picture of the cost per ticket and to know where efficiencies may be found, it’s important for organizations to capture both cost per incident and cost per service request. Typically, incidents are cheaper than service requests because there are usually fewer of them, and they tend to take less time to resolve.

The Bottom Line

There are many other KPIs that can (and likely should) be tracked. However, the four described above are widely viewed as essential rather than optional, and support the foundation of an efficient, effective, and optimized IT help desk.