A quick read with a big impact.

Top 4 Help Desk Services KPIs and How to Improve Them

People Working on Help Desk and a KPI icon

You’ve likely heard the old chestnut, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

In other words, if you want to manage performance, you must measure performance. However, there are dozens of things you could measure. Which ones should you measure?

The answer is to focus on the KPIs that have the biggest impact, like these four.

Help Desk Services KPI #1: First Call Resolution

Leading the pack at number one is First Call Resolution (FCR). This metric is typically expressed as a percentage of all calls that get resolved during the first call. The higher the percentage, the better you are doing.

First Call Resolution is an essential metric because it indirectly indicates your level of customer satisfaction, agent efficiency, and agent productivity. When you resolve most of your help desk calls during the first call, you end up with happy customers and employees (and help desk staff).

A high FCR rate also indicates that your help desk agents are well trained, knowledgeable, and efficient, which in turn, means they’re productive.

Measuring your FCR is straightforward enough. Simply add up all the calls that you resolved during the first call and divide it by the total number of calls.

How to Improve First Call Resolution

Managing what you have measured involves two processes—documenting everything and duplicating nothing. Start by examining your first tier of resolution. Examine ticket QAs and call QAs. Are your agents following your documented processes? Are they documenting what they did and the troubleshooting steps they took as these steps can be used to populate additional knowledge articles for repeated resolutions by other agents?

For example, if the agent asked the caller to reboot their computer, did the agent document that request? Or did the caller end up being escalated to the next tier of support, where the caller was asked again by the tier-two agent to reboot their computer, since the first agent didn’t document that this troubleshooting step was taken?

Lack of documentation leads to duplicated effort—for callers, and for agents. So, to improve your FCR rate, focus on improving how effectively and how consistently your agents document their calls and utilize that data to drive resolution rates higher.

Help Desk Services KPI #2: Customer SAT

The goal of your help desk services is to turn frustrated callers into satisfied customers. How good you are at reaching this goal is indicated by your Customer SAT scores. In general, Customer SAT measures how satisfied your customers are with your company’s products, services, and customer service.

In the context of a help desk, your Customer SAT scores indicate how satisfied your callers are with their help desk experiences. Customer SAT scores are typically ratings on a scale, a number from 1 to 10, for example, with 1 being strongly dissatisfied and 10 being strongly satisfied. Customer SAT scores are vital for several reasons. If your help desk is for external customers, and they aren’t happy with the service you're providing, they will look elsewhere. If your help desk is internal, low Customer SAT scores mean people are losing productivity, either because they’re getting unhelpful advice, or because they turn to other sources instead of the help desk.

How to Improve Customer SAT Scores

The key thing to remember about managing Customer SAT scores is that callers tend to care more about fixing their problem once and for all than about how long it takes for that to happen. They’ll forgive a long call if it ultimately results in a perfect solution. But if they have to call back multiple times because they’re getting ineffective advice? That’s when they get angry.

This means the driver behind good Customer SAT ratings is the degree to which you solve caller problems. One way to measure Customer SAT is with customer satisfaction surveys, typically at the conclusion of calls.

But don’t just ask if your callers are satisfied with their experience. Dig deeper. Ask, “Did we understand your needs? Did we handle your call correctly? Was the rep pleasant to deal with? Did we keep you informed properly through the life cycle of the call? Did we resolve your problem?”

These are the questions you want to focus on so your client community doesn't feel like they're left in help desk purgatory, particularly if their issue is something you can't fix at the first level. They need to appreciate that you're taking ownership and accountability — that you're doing everything you can for them and keeping them informed.

Help Desk Services KPI #3: Average Handle Time

Every call to your help desk has a start and an end. The time you take between these two points is your Average Handle Time (AHT). This metric is typically expressed in minutes and seconds. Typically, the shorter the time, the better you are doing, all other things being equal.

Short Average Handle Times are a good sign that your reps are able to quickly understand and solve the caller’s problem instead of having to hunt for answers or escalate the call. It indicates that your help desk staff are efficient—and productive.

How to Improve Average Handle Time

Your first step to managing your AHT is to assign the metric to each agent. Examine who's closing tickets, and then look at the average time to resolve those tickets. Then compare that performance with other agents in the same tier. Is everyone operating efficiently?

Short Average Handle Times typically reflect on agent knowledge levels and training, but not always, so this is a KPI that requires a considerable amount of contextual data to fully understand.

For example: If Jim takes three days to close a ticket for a keyboard replacement while Dwight takes six days, it could mean that Jim is more efficient. Or it could be that when Dwight had the ticket, there wasn’t sufficient inventory on hand. Or perhaps Dwight is closing twice as many tickets as everyone else and is so overworked that he’s not getting to those other tickets for a couple of days.

If your AHT needs work, three of the quickest ways to improve it are to:

  • Update and improve your knowledge base.
  • Conduct ongoing training.
  • Ensure that all your agents are following all your documented procedures, processes, and protocols.

Help Desk Services KPI #4: Call-to-Ticket Ratio

The fourth and final KPI that we recommend measuring is the percentage of calls you receive that generate new tickets. A Call-to-Ticket Ratio of 90%, for example, means that 90% of your callers are calling about something they haven’t called about before. Your goal is to get this percentage as high as possible.

The lower your Call-to-Ticket Ratio is, the higher your percentage of callers who are following up on their tickets. Callers who must call you repeatedly to get an update on the status of their ticket soon turn into dissatisfied customers.

How to Improve Call-to-Ticket Ratio

Your goal is to achieve a Call-to-Ticket Ratio of 80% at a minimum. But it’s not a KPI you can change on its own.

Instead, the way to improve this KPI is to concentrate your efforts on two other metrics we talked about. When you increase your First Call Resolution Rate and lower Average Handle Time, you automatically increase your Call-to-Ticket Ratio. (Which ties things together nicely by improving your Customer SAT score.)

Woman working on help desk

Another thing to remember about metrics and key performance indicators is that there are people behind the numbers. On every call to your help desk, there is a customer on one end and a help desk agent on the other. Your KPIs help you measure how effective you are with each of these groups of people.

Some KPIs tell you how satisfied your customers are. Other KPIs tell you how productive your agents are. But either way, the key to managing your help desk KPIs is managing your callers and your agents. If you give each group what they need to be satisfied, your help desk service will improve.

By the way, another metric is costs. If you need to get a clearer picture of your current help desk costs, check out our free Help Desk Cost of Support ROI Calculator.

E-book: 10 Help Desk Challenges & Concerns