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Smart Ways to Evaluate – and Reduce – Your IT Service Desk Cost Per Ticket

Evaluating Your IT Service Desk Cost Per Ticket

Whether your IT help desk is in-house, outsourced, or hybrid, one of the best big-picture ways to assess help desk performance is by calculating your Cost Per Ticket (CPT). This metric is the gold standard when it comes to determining the efficiency of your IT help desk – and the efficiency of any outsourced IT help desk vendors you may be considering.

Here are the things you must know about your Cost Per Ticket so you can make smarter business decisions.

Help Desk Cost Per Ticket, Defined

Cost Per Ticket is an IT help desk metric that indicates the average cost of resolving a ticket. Cost Per Ticket is typically calculated on a monthly basis. When an outsourced help desk vendor quotes you their Cost Per Ticket, they are telling you their average Cost Per Ticket per month.

Speaking broadly, you calculate your Cost Per Ticket by adding up all of your help desk’s operating expenses for a given period (typically a month) and then dividing that total by the number of tickets you resolved during that same period.

Here’s a theoretical example:

  • Total monthly help desk operating expenses: $35,000
  • Total monthly volume of resolved tickets: 1,000
  • Average monthly Cost Per Ticket: $35

While this seems like a simple calculation on its surface, there are a few things to consider.

A Few Caveats About Cost Per Ticket

The Cost Per Ticket for IT help desks in North America can vary broadly, from as low as $6 up to $40 or more, according to HDI’s last benchmarking.  

That’s a huge difference. Here are a couple of things to consider as you determine what end of that range you’ll be on: 

For one thing, Cost Per Ticket is a mean average, not a median average. It takes all of your operating expenses and divides them by all of your resolved tickets. 

It doesn’t account for: 

  • The types of tickets you resolved 
  • The length of time you took to resolve them
  • The number of support tiers involved 

If a percentage of your tickets are escalated to Tier 2 or Tier 3 you will add cost to your help desk Cost Per Ticket. 

For example, suppose during February, you create a disproportionate number of tickets that require Tier 2 and Tier 3 escalation, multiple agents, and multiple days to resolve. In that case, those tickets will have the cost of the help desk Cost Per Ticket, Tier 2 Cost Per Ticket, and Tier 3 Cost Per Ticket added to them. Hence, your overall IT Cost Per Ticket will be much higher in February than in other months. 

Tier 1 tickets are typically less expensive to resolve than Tier 2 or Tier 3 tickets because they are less complicated and require fewer resources. But your overall average Cost Per Ticket doesn’t reflect this unless you break it down by calculating your Cost Per Ticket for each support tier. 

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How to Calculate Your Help Desk Cost Per Ticket Accurately

Your average Cost Per Ticket is only accurate if you include all your operating costs. You may think your current average Cost Per Ticket is low, but that might be because you are not measuring all the expenses you incur while operating your help desk.

To get an accurate average Cost Per Ticket, measure all your help desk operating expenses. These include items large and small, such as:

  • Agent salaries
  • Agent benefits
  • Support employee* salaries
  • Support employee* benefits
  • Payroll taxes
  • Technology (desktop computers, servers, software licenses, data centers, analytics tools, reporting tools)
  • Telecommunications (headsets, VoIP hardware & software, Automatic Call Distributor, Interactive Voice Response)
  • Facility (office space lease payments, utilities, cleaners, property taxes, common area maintenance fees, repairs)
  • Legal fees
  • Consulting fees
  • Office supplies
  • Training
  • Meals and refreshments
  • Travel
  • Insurance

* Support employees include everyone from supervisors to trainers, from QA auditors to schedulers, from team leads to security staff.

Now, do the calculation again. If it’s consistently on the higher end of the range, (again, it’s important not to look at just one month’s worth of data here), that may mean you have some room for improvement.

Factors That Lead to Higher Help Desk CPT

Everything is more expensive these days. And help desks are no exception. So, if you’re finding yourself on the higher end of the range in 2024, it might not have anything to do with your operating expenses. Factors that have led to higher prices include:

  • Inflation: Though it’s decreased in recent years, inflation has varied wildly since the Covid-19 pandemic. The annual inflation rate was just 3.5% in 2024 but hit a high of 9.1% in June 2022. This has increased operating costs in every sector. 
  • Impact of hybrid work: COVID-19 has changed everything, including how we work. As more and more people work in remote or hybrid roles, demand for IT help increases. A strain on the help desk’s resources could result in a higher Cost Per Ticket. 

    Alternatively, some factors have allowed help desks to decrease the Cost Per Ticket in recent years, including:
  • Strategy shifts: Some help desks have shifted toward a self-service model, where simple tasks, like password resets, are handled without the aid of help desk agents, decreasing the Cost Per Ticket. 
  • Technical advancements: Increased automation has allowed many help desks to lower their cost per ticket, but it may affect quality of service, customer satisfaction, and other metrics.

Read more: The Importance of Human IT Solutions in the Age of AI

How to Lower Your IT Help Desk Cost Per Ticket

The quickest way to lower your Cost Per Ticket is to empower your Tier 1 support agents to resolve as many ticket types as possible. So, ensure that your folks in Tier 1 have the tools and training they need to resolve tickets during that vital first call.

Another way to lower your Cost Per Ticket is to deploy a variety of self-service options that help your users resolve minor IT issues themselves. These resources include knowledge bases, AI-powered chatbots and messaging, FAQ pages, community forums, and mobile apps.

A third way to reduce your Cost Per Ticket is to outsource all or part of your IT help desk. An outsourced help desk vendor like Global Help Desk Services, Inc (GHDSi). lowers your Cost Per Ticket by increasing your Tier 1 resolution rates, reducing the time it takes to resolve tickets, making your ticket-escalation system smarter, and lowering your infrastructure costs and operating expenses.

Speaking of vendors, are they calculating their cost per ticket correctly? 

How to Get an Accurate Cost Per Ticket Quote from an Outsourced IT Help Desk Vendor

Outsourcing all (or part) of your help desk function to a third party is a big step. To ensure success, you need to have the right data on hand, conduct your due diligence, and know exactly what you are looking for in a vendor.

Gather the right data 

If you want to compare apples with apples, you need to know what your current average Cost Per Ticket is. This means you have to know what your average monthly operating expenses and average monthly ticket volumes are. You’ll also need to gather data on the types and complexity of the tickets you get.

Conduct your due diligence

Don’t immediately hire the vendor that promises you the lowest Cost Per Ticket. Instead, do your due diligence first. How are they doing financially? How good is their reputation in the industry? Are they the subject of negative reviews, scandalous news reports, or legal action? Just how secure is their operation against cyberattacks and data breaches? Do you agree with their policies and procedures? This may seem like overkill, but when you outsource your IT help desk, those agents become the face of your entire IT organization – a low Cost Per Ticket shouldn’t come at the cost of accuracy or customer satisfaction.

Know what you are looking for

Cost Per Ticket is a valid metric when you are comparing your internal help desk with an outsourced help desk line item by line item. This means you need to know what you are looking for in an outsourced help desk in terms of service levels, coverage, languages spoken, scalability, agent turnover rates, customer satisfaction scores, and plenty more. A low Cost Per Ticket is helpful, but not if everything else is lacking.

Read more: Best Outsourced Help Desk Providers: How to Find Your Cinderella Story


Case Study: Lower Cost, Better Service

Our client, a medical center, faced two big challenges. They needed to reduce their operational costs while maintaining the 24/7/365 reliable help desk support crucial for their high-stakes medical environment. 

Outsourcing their help desk was a solution for both needs.

Challenges: Specialized, Costly Support

Given the high stakes of the technology associated with a medical center, the need for dependable help desk support was paramount. Managing the help desk internally was costly and labor-intensive, diverting essential resources from other critical IT functions.

Solution: Experienced, 24/7 Support

After careful consideration, the medical center chose GHDSi for our experience in healthcare support and capability to integrate with existing systems seamlessly. GHDSi provided round-the-clock support, ensuring there was no compromise in service quality.

Results: A Smooth Transition with Big Savings 

The partnership with GHDSi led to significant long-term cost savings for the medical center. 

Outsourcing also allowed the internal IT team to redirect their focus towards enhancing other IT services and support structures, further improving operational efficiency. The comprehensive onboarding process implemented by GHDSi ensured a smooth transition, preventing any disruption in help desk services during the changeover period.


“The savings for me include the fact that it allows me to spend more time making sure that our knowledge articles are up to date and making sure that our field support team has the resources they need to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.”

– Manager of IT Support Services at a medical center.


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Getting a Lower IT Help Desk Cost Per Ticket 

Cost Per Ticket is a vital metric. Paired with customer satisfaction, it gives you a measurable indication of how well your IT help desk is performing. It is also a great way to measure outsourced help desk providers. Just make sure you know your numbers, do your due diligence, and you know what you are looking for in a help desk partner.

And remember: Cost Per Ticket is just one of the many ways to measure your return on investment. There are plenty of other ways. Discover them in our free guide: Measuring Your Real Help Desk ROI: 4 Steps to a Better Analysis.

Measuring Your Real Help Desk ROI: 4 Steps to a Better Analysis