Top 5 KPIs That Tell You It’s Time to Outsource Your Service Desk

service desk agent at cubicle

Measurable goals and benchmarks are essential to gauging the health of your current IT support team’s performance. And thankfully, most service desk organizations offer a comprehensive reporting package that regularly keeps tabs on those metrics and holds those who deliver the service accountable. But how do you know if your current service desk’s numbers stack up to industry standards? Companies tend to cite one or more of the following Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as reasons for making a change to their people, processes, or technology.

1. Low or Non Existent Customer Satisfaction score

If you’re anywhere below 90% customer satisfaction or if your ITSM system doesn’t have the capacity to measure the quality of support, how do you know what the users think of your internal IT? Ideally, you want an ITSM platform that automatically generates an end user satisfaction survey once their incident is resolved and closed. End-user feedback should be an IT organization’s primary resource for gauging the service quality, its reputation among the employees, and an indicator of how it is valued and may or may not be leveraged going forward. Although root cause analysis of incidents and problems are ideal methods of continual service improvements, qualitative suggestions from those individuals who interact with the service desk should also be factored into any ITIL based CSI process.

2. High ASA

Especially if your after-hours ASA depends on the IT Manager waking up at 3:00 am to reconnect an end user to the VPN, you might want to consider outsourcing those tasks to a fully staffed 24×7 vendor. Since the speed of answer is the metric of first impressions, a caller who has to wait more than a minute to reach a live agent is already prepared for a low-quality customer service experience no matter how responsive and professional the support of the agent once they do receive the contact. A responsive service desk should be fielding those calls in under a minute at least 80% of the time. Any higher and the users will abandon the calls and often seek support elsewhere, in turn negating the purpose of the service desk.

3. Low ratio of contacts per employee or utilization rates

Although it may seem counterintuitive, a highly functioning service desk actually receives more calls for support than dysfunctional one. If the service desk has a poor reputation among the end user population they will seek alternative solutions. Certainly, it’s another story if there are high instances of self-service through an end user or service request portal that allows for an efficient automated or self-diagnosed resolution through a class A ITSM system. But if call volume is low because no one wants to call Grumpy Gus at the unhelpful help desk, it may be time to seek professional help of the non-psychiatric kind. If poor service by a surly helpdesk agent with no people skills is part of your call avoidance strategy, low agent utilization rates will inevitably ensue. Even in lean times when IT budgets are limited and customer service may become a lower priority, an underutilized service desk is a waste of money.

4. Low First Call Resolution

If your agents are resolving less than 70% of the issues it could be one of two things: Either they’re not sufficiently trained on the technology and processes or they are not granted enough permissions and access to resolve the more complex issues. Either way, you may want to bring in an unbiased third party service desk consultant to address those training issues and develop more efficient processes that maximize resolution capabilities at Level 1. A highly functioning service desk is empowered with all of the training, tools, processes, and remote access to delve deeply into the issue through a resolution for even complex problems.

5. Long Average Handle Time

In a standard office environment Level 1 support issues should be handled and resolved roughly at a rate of six minutes per call and generally no more than ten. As with low FCR, if your service desk agents are spending too long troubleshooting on the phones, they may need additional technical training. The other possibility involves escalation procedures that have not been established for incidents requiring additional network access or that can only be resolved with an on-site presence. Although the maximum 10-minute threshold should be observed with discretion especially when a resolution is imminent, most issues that take longer to resolve generally require a higher skill set like a Remote Level 2 technician, broader system access, or that on-site presence. Ultimately, it’s up to the service desk agent to ask the right questions of the end user in order to identify incidents or problems that should be escalated and quickly move on to the next inbound contact.

Of course, service desk outsourcing is not the only option. Organizations that are willing to invest in their internal technology infrastructure, the staff required to maintain it, and the service desk agents who support end users on a 24 x 7 basis will eventually realize an ROI over the long term. Short of that, it’s often a limited budget, lack of resources, or those unforeseen costs, not necessarily technical expertise, that drive IT Managers to seek an external solution. Ultimately, that solution should be a professional and efficient Level 1 service desk team that fields those initial inbound contacts for a client’s on-site staff so they can focus on problems that require a presence at the desktop or network level. With the above KPIs as a starting point of reference, identifying the right solution will be a little easier.