Key performance indicators (KPI) are used for performance reporting to help management understand how the team is performing. It is important to ensure you are capturing accurate performance reporting data to measure, manage and implement continuous improvement efforts. Most of your performance reporting data will come from your phone system, ticketing system, customer surveys and Help Desk audit program scorecards. Performance reporting is not just one snapshot of a point of time but a trend of all of those points in time to determine trends. By comparing the trend data you can identify strengths and weaknesses of your help desk. It also will allow you to compare your performance reporting against industry standards.
Performance Reporting: First Contact Resolution Rate (FCR)
First contact resolution (FCR) is the percent of customer contacts (incidents) that are solved by the help desk in the initial customer interaction without interruption. This means the issue is resolved before the customer’s initial phone call or chat session has ended. In recent years, first contact resolution is now being applied to emails. The current industry standard FCR for email is that a resolution is reached within one business hour of receiving a customer e-mail. First contact resolution (FCR) generally do not apply to service requests, since many requests for service may require funding, approval, provisioning or actions from groups outside the Help Desk. First contact resolution (FCR) is one of the most important Help Desk measurement and directly ties into staffing, cost, and customer satisfaction. For example if you have a 70 percent FCR, your organization is averaging 1.3 contacts per customer issue to resolve an issue. That extra 30 percent is usually escalated to and handled by a senior Help Desk Agent or level 2 technical resource at a significantly higher hourly rate. It also means the Help Desk Agent is unavailable to take a new contact during that time when the Help Desk Agent has to contact the customer a second time. Customer satisfaction decreases as the duration of time it takes to resolve this issue increases. To control staffing levels, reduce cost, and improve customer satisfaction, it is important to track and analyze contacts that were not solved on first contact.
Performance Reporting: Cost per Contact
As a manager of a help desk it is very important to understand the cost per contact. Cost per contact is the budgetary cost of operating the help desk and dividing by the total number of contacts. Many mature help desks will slice and dice these numbers into different categories. Some of the more popular costs per contact are:
- Overall cost per contact – This metric is all of the help desk expenses such as salaries, equipment and capital divided by total contacts
- Help desk staffing cost per contact – This metric is all of the help desk salaries divided by total contacts resolved first contact
- Escalated cost per contact – This metric is all of the escalation group hourly rate times total time worked on issues divided by total escalated contacts
- Cost per contact via communication channel such as phone, email, chat and support portal.
Performance Reporting: Customer Satisfaction
An important performance reporting metric for the help desk is customer satisfaction, which is direct feedback from the customer on their most recent interaction. Customer satisfaction is measure by offering the customer a survey after a support ticket has been resolved. The brief survey questions should focus on knowledge, professionalism and soft skills of the help desk agent. You can also ask questions on their opinion of the service provided, timeliness and satisfaction of the result. Using a survey tool that is integrated to your ticketing system will allow you to run customer satisfaction reports based on agents, issue type and trending.
Performance Reporting: Agent Utilization
A way to keep costs per contact down and measure productivity is with the agent utilization metric. Agent utilization measures the percentage of time the agent is actually working. Basically you take the total handle time of all of their calls divided by the total time the agent is working. For example, if an agent works an eight-hour shift and their total handle time is 5 hours then their utilization is 62.5%. This means 37.5% of the time the agent was waiting for a call, on break, in a meeting and such.
Performance Reporting: Average handle time (AHT)
This metric is an average duration of help desk agent hold time, talk time and related tasks that follow the call. Average handle time is directly related to help desk agent performance. Too low of an average handle time may point to over escalation due to a lack of troubleshooting. Too high of an average handle time can point to a need for agent performance issues and require training and coaching.
Performance Reporting Average Wait Time – Average wait time of callers waiting in the queue for the next available agent. This metric is critical for management to determine the optimal staffing levels. It can help identify critical trends of high impact incidents. A long wait time is a negative for customers and it directly relates to customer satisfaction.
How does the FCR calculation method change if you’re dealing with a managed service provider? I spent 10 years at an MSP starting as an agent and moving up to SD manager and FCR was changed from a similar calculation you have outlined here to what they called FLE (first level efficiency). Basically, it’s any ticket (INC or REQ) that the SD could resolve at the desk regardless of time, just so long as the ticket never was assigned to L2/L3 and not reopened by the user divided by every ticket that started its life at the service desk. (phone, portal, chatbot). The idea being it you avoided it becoming a costlier ticket by going to a different group. This encouraged the agents to hold onto the ticket a bit longer to resolve it themselves if possible.
At my current job I’m on the client end (we’re using a MSP) and FCR for all channels is only counting INC tickets created from calls and don’t exceed an hour from open to resolved.
So basically, does the methodology change if the desk is in-house vs contracted out?
Thank you for the question and all the great information you shared. For the question “does the methodology change if the desk is in-house vs contracted out?” we should look at it from the customer’s perspective. The customer does not care who solves the issue, just that it is fixed in a timely manner. From a Help Desk manager’s perspective, you would want some time limit on FLE. Otherwise, open tickets could sit in an agent’s work queue for a day, a week, or more without penalty.
With FLE, the goal is to solve it without escalation. This means they are trying to save escalation costs. The first-level agent could accumulate a lot of open tickets, so they must be managed closely. The customer may also experience some delays to resolution. However, FLE will drive first-level agents to try and figure out the resolution. This could drive learning how to fix the issue if it happens again. Ultimately the FLE percentage could go up. With FCR, the goal is to fix it while the customer is still on the call. This means the metric is focused on resolving the issue in under an hour. Improving resolution times will increase customer satisfaction.