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8 IT Help Desk Metrics You Should Track for Optimal Performance


Alvaro Prieto

Senior Managing Director of Technology Services, Founder

It’s no secret that using key performance indicators (KPIs) can help ensure optimal performance and drive innovation within an organization. Still, to this day some organizations struggle with what are the right metrics to use, how to calculate them, and what are the right levels they should be measuring at. 

KPIs are key to helping IT leaders to assess their current performance, determine how to achieve business objectives, and measure the quality of future solutions. We will review the top 8 KPIs we believe are key to measuring success within a Service Desk Organization.

1. Average Speed of Answer

As one of the most tracked KPIs, average speed of answer (ASA) is often essential to ensuring service-level compliance. In fact, many help desks promote a target ASA to manage costs and support other metrics like customer satisfaction. A good ASA should be just under 10 seconds.

To calculate this metric, simply divide the total number of live calls by the collective time-in-queue. For example, if your help desk received 10,000 calls over a given period, and the total time spent in the queue for all calls was 500,000 seconds, your ASA for that period would be 50 seconds.

How to improve: Consider monitoring your agent schedules to determine if there are enough available agents at peak call times. Advanced routing tools can help direct calls to agents with the correct skill sets.

2. Average Handling Time 

Another essential service desk KPI, average handling time (AHT), helps you understand the amount of labor required to support your customers. This metric can support staffing level decisions. For example, tracking AHT over time can help you scale your resources up and down as demand fluctuates. A good AHT for a Level 1 Help Desk should come under 20 minutes. 

You can calculate AHT by measuring the time your agents spend talking and chatting with live inbound contacts. Add together total talk time, total hold time, and total after-call work. The higher your AHT, the more resources you’ll need to manage incoming calls.

How to improve: Monitor your agents’ schedules to ensure your staffing levels align with periods of high call volume. Provide your agents with the right tools and knowledge resources to quickly answer customer questions.

3. Call Abandonment Rate

This metric shows you the number of calls where the caller hangs up before actually speaking with an agent. It’s important to track this metric because many service level agreements (SLAs) stipulate a target call abandonment rate (CAR). Keep in mind that it’s best practice to measure call abandonment and chat abandonment separately, as each metric tells a different story.

To calculate CAR, take the number of abandoned calls in a given timeframe and divide that figure by the total number of inbound calls. For example, if your help desk received 1,000 calls and 80 were abandoned, your CAR would be 0.08%. An acceptable CAR should be under 5%.

How to improve: Try estimating wait time so callers know what to expect. In addition, virtual queueing tools can reduce the time callers spend waiting.

4. First Contact Resolution

This metric corresponds to customer satisfaction. Impatient customers want a swift resolution to their problems and a first contact resolution (FCR) is an ideal scenario. Your average FCR demonstrates how effectively your agents can solve problems. Often, a help desk with experienced agents will have a higher FCR rate. Many companies today track separate rates for calls and emails. A good FCR target should start at 70%.

Calculate FCR by dividing the number of FCRs by the total number of calls received. For instance, if you received 5,000 calls in a month and 3,000 were FCRs, your net FCR rate would be 60%. 

How to improve: Analyze your customers’ most common issues and develop a workflow that enables your agents to promptly identify needs and solutions. 

5. Cost Per Contact

Cost per contact (CPC), or cost per ticket (CPT), is an important metric to track as it is
deeply related to the organization’s bottom line. However, it is also one of the most complex KPIs to compute. Ultimately, CPC is a measurement of all help desk operating expenses divided by the total number of contacts for a given period.

Operating expenses can be a broad term, but it’s important to track all of the expenses associated with operating your service desk. These costs include agent salaries and benefits as well as technology and equipment costs, facility costs, training and management expenses, and even the cost of the coffee in your breakroom. 

How to improve: Leverage call monitoring solutions to grade agent effectiveness. Identify knowledge gaps and provide training to reduce handling time.