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4 Steps to Accurately Measure the ROI of Outsourced Help Desk Services

4 Steps to Accurately Measure the ROI of Outsourced Help Desk Services

If you are considering outsourcing your IT help desk, or if you already enjoy outsourced help desk services, then you know the pressures of having to justify your budget.

After all, many businesses look at their outsourced help desk as a cost. They may be happy with the level of service they are receiving, but they still view the service as one that belongs solely in the expense column of the balance sheet.

But what if you could prove that your help desk actually generates a return on your investment?

As it turns out, outsourced help desk services create a significant – and positive – ripple effect in an organization. And to assess the true value of that ripple, it’s vital to know how to calculate the four types of return on investment: financial, emotional, time and effort.

Once you learn how to calculate these returns on investment, you are in a much better position to justify your budget—and even increase it. Here’s how you do it.

ROI #1: Financial

When most businesses think of ROI, they think of dollars and cents. They estimate how many dollars and cents they will generate in return for investing one dollar.

When it comes to outsourcing IT help desk functions, businesses typically think this same way. They think, “If we outsource our help desk, our cost per ticket will be X percent less than what it is now, so we will save Y. The savings obtained is our ROI.”

When you show how outsourcing your IT help desk contributes directly to your company’s bottom line, you make a much stronger case for investing in outsourcing. Do this by asking three questions:

  1. How does our outsourced help desk contribute to the bottom line of our business?
  2. How is this the most effective use of our capital?
  3. How does this impact our business financially?

When you can demonstrate that investing in your outsourced help desk improves help desk resolution rates, you will win over your c-suite team. Few senior executives will turn down that kind of return in exchange for a few permission changes to facilitate higher resolution rates.

See a real-world, example of calculating Financial ROI 

ROI #2: Emotional

Users often describe their interactions with help desks in emotional terms. Ask them how they feel after hanging up the phone with a help desk agent, and they will say “frustrated,” “satisfied,” “angry,” “annoyed,” “pleased,” or something similar.

IT help desks deal with people’s emotions because IT is a service industry, just like hospitality and retail are service industries. Your outsourced help desk has the greatest impact on the overall level of satisfaction that your users and customers feel toward your IT group. Often, they will judge your entire IT department by whether your help desk is available, responsive, polite and competent.

This means spending money on your help desk will generate a significant emotional return on your investment. You can measure this emotional ROI with KPIs, such as customer satisfaction scores and net promoter scores. These reflect how happy your customers are, and whether they are willing to give you their continued business.

To justify an investment in outsourced help desk services, you need a Customer Experience Management program that captures, measures, and responds to the emotional needs of your help desk customers. This way, your help desk quantifies the emotional ROI it’s providing to your business.

As you increase the satisfaction levels of your customers, you find it easier to gain buy-in for your proposed changes. The key is to factor Emotional ROI into every proposed change to how your help desk operates. Ask yourself:

  • How will this change increase customer satisfaction?
  • How will this change improve overall perception of IT?
  • How will this change reduce stress for both our help desk agents and our customers?

ROI #3: Time

If you are in the IT help desk business, you are in the time management business. After all, one of the primary things that customers care about is how quickly help desk agents resolve their issue.

How long your agents take to answer their phones, how long customers wait on hold, how long an issue takes to get resolved—these measures of your success (and of your customer satisfaction) all involve a clock.

Which brings us to your Time ROI. You can shorten the time it takes you to resolve issues by investing in the right metrics.

Consider your First Call Resolution (FCR) rate, for example.

  • Tickets that are resolved at the help desk during the first contact are typically resolved within minutes.
  • But tickets that leave the help desk and get escalated to another support group typically take three days to resolve.

This means investing money to improve your First Call Resolution rate is likely to generate a positive return. After all, the better your FCR rate, the more capacity your other support teams will gain. When those other support teams gain capacity, you reduce your need for additional head count for upcoming projects, expansions, mergers and roll outs.

So, factor this Time ROI into your outsourced help desk ROI and business justifications.

ROI #4: Effort

ROI involves more than just finances, emotions and time. It also involves effort and energy. Some initiatives require more effort to implement and operate than other initiatives. You should factor this level of effort into your ROI calculations because some initiatives promise to deliver a decent financial, emotional or time ROI, but involve too much effort to be worth it.

Consider, for example, the popularity of self-service capabilities when it comes to password resets. Plenty of companies are planning to, or are already implementing, a way for users to reset their passwords without any help desk involvement.

On paper, this seems like a great idea, right? After all, if all employees reset their passwords on their own, this frees up the help desk to work on more pressing issues.

But what looks good on paper looks less attractive when you factor in the level of effort involved with operating self-service password reset functionality.

This is because, as you know, there is no such thing as 100% user adoption or utilization. Most companies achieve only a 40% or higher utilization rate without completely removing the help desk’s ability to reset passwords. Some companies offer incentives to persuade users use new tools like self-service password resets, yet they only get users into the system. Incentives don’t drive utilization.

So, before you deploy any new initiatives, first calculate your Effort ROI. You may discover that the return does not justify the investment. Setting up a self-service password management system, for example, requires you to make investments in infrastructure, person hours, the system itself, licenses and maintenance.

When you factor these costs, don’t calculate your ROI by assuming that your entire client community will use the new tool. This will skew your results, making your calculated return on investment appear much more attractive that it is. After all, if only 40% of your users use the new tool, then you still have the added cost of manually resetting passwords for the other 60% of the client community at the help desk. That’s a lot of effort and energy that your help desk must expend on an initiative that promises to be “self-service.”

A Better Analysis of Your Outsourced Help Desk ROI

When you justify every investment decision by first calculating the four areas of help desk ROI—financial, emotional, time and effort—you improve your level of IT support in multiple ways, including faster ticket resolution times, lower cost per ticket, a better First Call Resolution rate, and increased agent productivity.

Want to learn more? Our helpful guide, Measuring Your Real Help Desk ROI: 4 Steps to a Better Analysis, walks you through the exact process of making these calculations while also providing helpful tips for improving your financial, emotional, time and effort ROI.

Ebook: Help Desk ROI: It's Not Just Financial