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3 min read

9 KPIs for Measuring Your Help Desk’s Effectiveness

The IT help desk is an important tool to ensure your company’s information technology runs smoothly and, as a result, so does your company as well.

Effective help desk management


The help desk can be a high pressure environment, with internal clients demanding a speedy resolution to often complex issues – and competing issues demanding time and energy from the help desk employees.

How do you know if your help desk is running as efficiently and effectively as it possibly can?

It’s important to determine what you think a successful help desk looks like and then you can decide if yours is measuring up. Set a benchmark that you can measure progress against, and then set key performance indicators (KPIs) that will enable you to see how you are going.

KPIs can help you to track and trend performance, identify and correct any performance problems and to establish your performance goals and accountability.

It can seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be overly complicated. These are the most important KPIs that you should measure to determine your help desk’s effectiveness:

1. Lost business hours

The number of hours that your business is not able to operate, or can’t operate to its optimum, due to IT service issues and outages should be a KPI benchmark.

Your goal should be to keep lost business hours to a minimum – even aiming for zero if possible.

When you track lost business hours you are able to highlight the loss and impact on your company.

2. The time it takes to make first contact

When you think of contacting the help desk from a user’s perspective, you will want to know that your issue has been received and a human being is going to look at it for you.

You should have target response times – whether it is how long it takes to answer the phones or how long it takes to respond to incoming ticket requests/emails. These are measurable and easily improved upon by building systems, processes and capacity.

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3. Cost per contact

Your help desk, if provided in-house, might seem like a “free” service to the rest of your organization, but as the person responsible for its budget you know that it is anything but – it costs money to run.

By setting cost per contact as a KPI ( the average overall costs over the number of contacts made to the help desk) you can measure how efficient your help desk staff are.

If the cost per contact is too high, look for ways that you can improve on this. For example, do you have a system in place to reduce the number of calls made to your help desk? You could invest in a self-service kiosk to help users resolve the most frequently occurring issues for themselves, or deploy a mass notification system such as DeskAlerts to let everyone know about outages and scheduled maintenance to reduce the call load when systems are unavailable.

4. Infrastructure stability

Stable infrastructure can be measured by maximum availability with few outages and low levels of service disruption.

Putting measures in place to maintain stable infrastructure are a KPI you should strive for. Your help desk can measure this by monitoring the percentage reduction in the number of assets that cause problems and a percentage reduction in the number of major incidents involving your IT infrastructure.

5. Resolution rate

Studies have shown there is a strong correlation between end-user satisfaction and resolution rate. When an end-user feels as though their issue hasn’t adequately been resolved and they have to continue to have exchanges through the ticketing process, their satisfaction rating can drop by around 15 per cent.

Tickets should never be left without appropriate answers given to the end-user. As a KPI you should be looking at both the number of resolved cases as long as the time it takes to follow up on any questions from open tickets.

6. Agent satisfaction

You can invite your end-users to rate their happiness with the specific help desk employee thy have dealt with. This satisfaction rating can measure things such as how many calls have been answered, how many have been resolved, and how the user feels overall about the experience.

Measuring this KPI will let you determine which help desk employees are performing well and which ones may need additional training or performance managing.

7. Ticket volume trends

This KPI is about measuring the total number of tickets that your help desk handles and their patterns within a particular time frame. It should be used with the goal of optimizing the number of incident and service requests and preparing your IT team to handle the ticket load.

With this measurement you can identify hotspots to optimize your resource management and the workload of your technicians, create better staffing models, design training sessions, analyze request patterns to plan ahead and validate additional resource requirements.

8. Ticket churn

If you have a growing pile of unresolved tickets it might be a sign that there are emerging problems that you need to get on top of. Otherwise it might mean that there are issues with the help desk staff or your policies and procedures. Whatever it is, ticket churn as a KPI will enable you to identify and act on any such problems should they arise.

9. Agent utilization

In an ideal world your help desk employees would spend 100 per cent of their time talking to, instant messaging or emailing your end-users. But the reality is that they should have some idle time.

Your agent utilization KPI is the number of tickets per agent per month and the handle time per ticket. Once this rate gets too high you might find that morale drops, which in turn can give you a higher staff turnover rate and impact your costs as you will need to recruit and train new employees.

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