What are the bottom-line factors that tell you if your help desk is doing a good job?
When you look at it from a business-growth perspective, customer satisfaction and experience are the keys to success. What you do directly impacts how customers view the company and whether they stay with it.
In a sense, this is similar for internal service desks too. You can influence employee satisfaction and their overall view of the company. A good experience helps to color the whole company in a positive light.
How do you prioritize customer experience and satisfaction within your help desk? Managing your help desk statistics plays an important part because these can directly impact the overall experience.
One of the first things every help desk needs to determine is the KPIs they are driving towards. Your key performance indicators help you take the overall temperature of your help desk operation and to figure out whether you are meeting user needs as best as possible.
KPIs help you to answer the important question, “are we effective?” This is something you may need to answer for at an executive level, too. It helps to have specific data you can point at to back your claims of effectiveness, or any requests you may have to devote more resources.
When you’re considering the customer experience, most common help desk KPIs are related, even if indirectly. For example, the amount of time it takes to get a service request completed may impact the user’s ability to go about their work day. The amount of time spent in a support queue can definitely make people feel anything on a spectrum of highly satisfied to very frustrated.
How can you set your KPIs? Here are a few questions to consider to ensure you’re setting meaningful, effective KPIs:
Qualities of good KPIs include that; they inspire action, they are clearly related to business goals, they are concise and clear, they are easily understood by your team members, they promote transparency.
Here are some key help desk statistics and the factors that impact them:
This is one of the “big ticket” items for help desks, no pun intended. With ticket volume, more is not better. Most help desks will aim for a steady rate of ticket volume as compared to the number of customers or users that they serve. If growth in ticket volume at least roughly tracks growth in customer numbers, you’re probably doing pretty well. If ticket volume explodes out of proportion with customers, then it could indicate problems.
For example, perhaps a higher volume indicates an issue with a new release or a bug in the system. Sometimes it’s because too many emails are bouncing and coming back to your queue as tickets. If you have a new product, you might expect higher volumes at first, but you’d hope that the product was built to be intuitive for users and that therefore over time, ticket volumes would decrease.
This is related to your ticket volume in that it measures the number of replies required to close a ticket. Ideally, you want your reply volume to be as close to the actual ticket volume as possible, because one reply is obviously the most efficient!
If reply volume is high, it can indicate a number of things. For example; the person responding isn’t a great communicator, or the issue is gnarly and complicated. Reply volume can impact customer satisfaction as well. Most people would prefer that their tickets be resolved as quickly as possible so a high volume might not be great for your help desk reputation.
How long do customers have to wait for an initial reply (time to first response)? What are your average response times? How are these trending over time?
Remember that while average response times do help you to plot any trends, they can be skewed by any outliers very easily. Response time is important to customers in terms of receiving an acknowledgement of their request, too. So while you might respond quickly, that might not necessarily resolve the ticket. This is why it’s important to track things like reply volume and time to full resolution as well.
Your aim is that efficient, helpful service should lead to happy customers, but it’s important not to assume that customers are happy just because your response metrics look good.
The simple thing to do is to ask them. This doesn’t have to be a major undertaking - a simple click response at the end of an email will do it. For example: you could ask “how did I do?” and give the options “awesome,” “okay” and “unsatisfactory.” Even a simple thumbs up or thumbs down will help you to quickly gauge satisfaction.
One tenet of good customer service is that anything they need can be resolved by the first person they have contact with. There are a number of surveys that show if there’s one thing customers hate, it’s being bounced around between different agents. This is made worse if they feel like they have to repeat themselves each time.
There are probably some instances in your help desk that require escalation, but as a general rule, these should be few and far between. You can measure by looking at the percentage of tickets that get transferred to someone else. It’s also a good way to determine where you might have issues that are using up resources and require a better solution.
The ideal backlog volume is obviously zero. A large backlog suggests that you have more tickets coming in than resources to handle them. Most helpdesks can expect to have some sort of backlog as not all tickets will be resolved as they come in.
It’s important to track your ticket backlog and understand whether it is growing or shrinking, or whether it has seasonal volumes. This can help you to ensure your help desk is adequately staffed, and to look into “self-help” options for customers. There’s a good chance you get tickets that a good knowledge base resource could help the user to solve on their own.
You can’t leave out the satisfaction of your agents in an overall understanding of your KPIs and the factors that affect them. Agent satisfaction is closely linked with their overall performance and therefore the satisfaction of the customers that they serve.
Another important point is that agent satisfaction can be an indicator of turnover and the need to hire new agents. This has obvious implications for customer satisfaction - new agents require training and customers may not have as great an experience, especially if the quality of your service suffers.
Customer or user satisfaction has to be the primary statistic underpinning everything you do in your help desk. Satisfied customers stay with the business and may even help you to grow it by recommending you to others.
You can draw a relatively straight line between managing key help desk statistics and the KPIs that underline customer satisfaction. It’s important to be thoughtful about the statistics that are really worth tracking from this perspective. You could get caught up in data “just because,” so all KPIs should point meaningfully at your overall goals.
Of course, it’s also helpful if your help desk software allows you to easily measure and manage the data points you need to know about. JitBit’s automated help desk gives you access to key reporting and statistics. Check us out here.
Katie is our writer who specializes in technology and travel. When she's not writing, you'll probably find her on a trail, taking photos.