5 metrics to unlock your help desk’s potential

You’ve heard the old saying “you can’t change what you can’t measure.” And one area that most definitely needs changing is the help desk if you ask users, IT managers and even the staffers who work in them. 

As the face of your department, the help desk needs to be as efficient, effective and helpful as possible. Not only does that ensure the business as a whole runs smoothly, it also can greatly benefit your department. If executives are satisfied with the service they get from the help desk, they’re more likely to support IT in other areas and listen to its concerns.

On the other hand, one bad experience with the help desk can put IT in the dog house – whether it’s anything you’ve done wrong or not.

Using metrics to your advantage

There are plenty of ways to gauge user satisfaction with the help desk. The occasional survey can tell you a lot about their frustrations or satisfaction.

But here are 5 metrics you might not think to collect – ones that could really help you understand where your help desk stands and where it could stand to improve.

1. Time to initial response

How long does it take from the time a user files a ticket to when they first hear back from your department? An automated email saying that their issue has been received and assigned is a good first step. But you’ll also want to know how long it takes until the user is first contacted by a human being in IT.

This is good information to have on hand. A user who needs to wait to find out if they’re even on IT’s radar is going to have a negative opinion of the service.

Note: Track the time to response by regular office hours, not total time elapsed. A user who files a ticket at 10 PM on a Sunday and expects to hear back by midnight shouldn’t muck with your stats.

2. Repeat tickets

If the help desk receives the same ticket more than once – either from a single user or multiple users, you’ll want to track that.

These repeat requests will show you where your users might need a little more training and guidance, either as an individual or a group. Plus, getting the fix out to everyone before they run into a problem will help your department’s reputation. It cuts the negative experience out of the context of the help desk.

3. Tickets by vendor

There’s a lot you can learn about the kinds of tickets that are filed. They can tell you what the biggest problems with your systems are, but they might also may reveal problems that aren’t with your systems at all.

Tracking the number of complaints by the vendor of the product can help you figure out which aren’t stacking up. If your users are routinely running into problems with a specific app or service provider, that could be a sign that a change is needed – or at the very least that you’ll want to review the relationship.

4. On-site v. off-site users

Mobile workers are a reality in this day and age. And the more time they spend off-site, the more likely they are to encounter problems with certain things such as mobile applications, cloud services and VPNs, for instance.

It helps to know not only the kind of issues these off-site users have but the frequency as well. This information can help you know whether you have enough staff or the right equipment to handle off-site support and if these issues have longer or more complicated troubleshooting.

When you put it all together, this information could be helpful in making the case for getting your department a little extra help in the budget, too.

5. User interaction

Most help desks gauge user satisfaction in some way, having them rate how they felt about the interaction  with the tech and whether they felt the problem was solved.

But you may also want to ask techs how they felt about the ticket handling. If a user is often rude, unhelpful or demanding, you may want to speak with him or her or a supervisor about the issue.

Likewise, if a tech thinks a problem has been solved but a user doesn’t, you’ll need to investigate further.

Getting the tech’s take on the experience also gives them a chance to vent or bring issues to your attention. While it’s true that it is their job to help however possible, that doesn’t mean they have to stand for being mistreated. It’ll go a long way to improving their job satisfaction and keeping them on board.

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