Performance metrics behind IT helpdesk technicians

Last month I gave you a behind-the-scenes look at a remote engineer’s workstation in our IT helpdesk support center. Those big monitors and our proprietary troubleshooting systems don’t just look impressive—they have an important goal: Enable NetGain Technologies’ helpdesk technicians to resolve problems quickly, so you can get back to work with minimal disruption. Today, let’s follow along the process of an IT support ticket and identify the metrics of a successful helpdesk request.

Managed services end users make contact with the IT helpdesk in many ways, including email and LiveChat and directly on the client portal, and my team of Remote Systems Engineers (RSEs) has a procedure for each one. Because phone calls are the most common contact, we’ll focus on call-in requests here.

3 rings to reach helpdesk technicians

We’re proud to be able to report to our technology end users that we pick up most IT helpdesk calls within three rings, and our on-hold time averages 15 seconds. We make sure that highly-qualified helpdesk technicians are available to answer your calls as quickly as possible, resolve your issue, and allow you to go about your day.

RSEs see a flashing red screen that alerts them to a caller on hold. We don’t like people waiting for us. We understand that everyone’s time is valuable. Our abandon rate (the percentage of callers who hang up before their problems are resolved) is less than 1%. The average for IT service desks is greater than 8%.

15 minutes of RSE troubleshooting

After resolving more than a million IT support tickets for hundreds of clients during our 30-plus years as a world-class managed IT services provider, we’ve refined our processes to be efficient and thorough.

Incoming calls become tickets—a trackable electronic paper trail that logs the problem and steps necessary to reach resolution. Once the ticket is active, our RSE works with the caller to determine the issue and fix the problem.

We’ve found that 15 minutes is the perfect duration for this process. From your perspective, 15 minutes is around the same amount of time it would take to locate your internal IT guy or to Google the problem. And in our experience, if the issue requires longer than a quarter-hour, it generally merits a Senior Systems Engineer or on-site support.

4% escalation rate

Okay, 15 minutes is a good goal—but how often do callers’ issues require additional attention?

The average “managed IT” helpdesk resolves somewhere between 67% and 70% of support calls, making the industry standard for escalation somewhere around 30%. The NetGain Technologies helpdesk technicians strive for a much better customer experience: We guarantee 85% of tickets to be resolved within that first 15 minutes, and our internal goal for escalation percentage is 4%. That means for every 100 calls that come to our team, we want our remote engineers to resolve 96. (And we’re succeeding. Our average run rate is between 3% and 4%.)

This level of IT service desk support is good for the end user as we’re able to fix issues much quicker remotely, rather than having to send technicians onsite.

(Wonder why we don’t target 100% of calls for remote support? Some issues—like hard drives that fail permanently—are simply impossible to solve without onsite visits. That’s why we staff seven regional offices with the best field engineers in the industry.)

100% recording and monthly call quality audits

We record every call that comes in to NetGain’s IT helpdesk. Every month I review a random sample of each engineer’s calls for quality assurance.

Across the team and individually by technician, we identify areas where RSE training will make future calls faster and smoother for our end users. We collect and analyze the data for every helpdesk contact; we want to utilize it to constantly improve the process.

5-question survey

After every IT helpdesk request, my RSE team sends a short, five-question survey to the contact associated with the ticket. The survey helps us gauge client satisfaction with the process and the issue resolution. This process is the best way for an end user to communicate back to NetGain, whether to send kudos to a technician or to suggest improvements to the IT support desk service.

Our company goal is 95% satisfaction—but please don’t tell my RSEs. I raised our team goal to 97% client approval rate, and in practice we have hit 98% to 99% scores month after month.

Performance penalty for missing SLAs

As part of our new Technology OneSource v10 agreements we implemented a performance penalty.

Technology OneSource is our world-class managed IT services program. Our contracts identify several service level agreements (SLAs) that guarantee high minimum standards for the services we provide to our partners. For example, SLAs may institute requirements on how quickly we must respond to service requests and begin working on the ticket.

The performance penalty promise is simple: If we don’t do what we say we’re going to do, we’ll provide a credit back to you on your next agreement invoice. Effectively, if we miss our SLAs, you receive a price break. You’ve never seen this elsewhere—we’re the only ones who offer it.

Dunce tickets

We strive for perfection, but we’re not there yet—so we want to know where we’re falling short. Dunce tickets are client issues that require attention to avoid missing our SLA.

My RSEs know: If your name is associated with a ticket on the dunce list, you had better get it off quickly!

WOW Factor

We’ve all heard the gushing stories about Nordstrom’s client satisfaction and Zappos’ customer service. NetGain Technologies endeavors to be known for this same high level of customer approval.

The IT support technicians are trained to ensure that any time you call in with a helpdesk request, you think, “WOW—they did a great job for me” as you hang up the phone.

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