If you hope to accurately track how well your managed services provider (MSP) is performing, collecting legitimate performance metrics is key. Some of these metrics can be extracted from your call logging and finance systems, but the most effective way to collect and analyze these metrics is by using an IT help desk ticketing system.
To help you understand what types of insights a help desk can provide—and highlight which to focus on once you’ve implemented a help desk—this guide will discuss the most important help desk performance metrics for MSPs. These metrics all play a key role in ensuring your business is successful, both in terms of customer satisfaction and revenue.
The importance of help desk performance metrics
We all recognize the importance of first impressions. Often, an IT help desk ticketing system is the first line of support customers will encounter, which is why it’s so critical that it’s performing well. Effective performance measurement is not just a necessity, but a prerequisite to informed decision-making. The metrics gathered by your help desk can provide critical visibility into how well your technicians are performing, areas that could benefit from more end user education, and other insights that enable you to improve your customer offerings.
However, to unlock the full potential of metrics and KPIs, MSPs must use them holistically—not just as a means of measuring performance. To be able to truly put metrics to use, MSPs must do the following:
- Track and trend performance over time
- Compare benchmark performance with industry peer performance
- Identify strengths and weaknesses in the service desk
- Proactively prescribe actions to improve overall performance
- Establish performance goals for the help desk and individual team members
- Diagnose and learn the underlying drivers of performance gaps
In short, performance measurement and management is paramount for any MSP that hopes to improve and maintain performance.
Critical help desk performance metrics
To provide MSPs with an idea of where to start when it comes to gathering help desk metrics, here is a list of some of the most important and telling performance metrics to monitor:
1. TICKET VOLUME
This is a major metric that every MSP with a help desk ticketing system should track. Ticket volume refers to the number of support requests coming into your business or help desk. This metric can help demonstrate how well your business is performing and can give you critical insight into whether customers are satisfied or not. Moreover, knowing how many tickets your team can handle will inform future recruitment initiatives.
2. VOLUME VIA CHANNEL
Looking into the details of ticket volume also gives you insight into which channels requests originate from. For example, you may find the majority of tickets come via social media, email, phone, or chat. When you know which channels are most popular, you can better allocate resources to meet customer demand. Furthermore, this insight allows you to focus on training agents to handle tickets that arrive from these channels more effectively.
3. FIRST-TIME FIX PERCENTAGE
Your “first-time fix” percentage refers to the number of user issues resolved upon first contact with your business. This contact is usually established by help desk, email, or phone call. The higher your first-time fix percentage, the better. If your first-time fix percentage is high, it demonstrates your support team is generally quick and efficient, which is a valuable promotional tool you can use to persuade potential customers.
4. AVERAGE RESPONSE TIME
Average response time, much like first-time fix percentage, can also allow you to demonstrate the efficiency of your help desk to potential customers. Provided you keep your average response time low, prospective customers should be impressed by your attentiveness to customers. When calculating your average response time, be sure to consider operating hours and ensure only business hours are included. If you’re using SLA tracking software, it may be able to automatically exclude non-working hours and work out your average response time for you.
5. NUMBER OF OUTSTANDING ISSUES
You should always be aware of this critical metric. When the number of outstanding issues across your customer base rises unexpectedly, this can alert you to the possibility your team may be overwhelmed with tickets. With this information, you can re-allocate resources to clear up any long-standing problems.
6. MONTHLY TURNOVER
You should always be aware of how much your company invoiced for the previous month—and you should also have an awareness of how this figure compares to the previous year. This data gives you invaluable insight into how well your company is performing and can provide assurance that progress is being made. Is your revenue improving year on year? Is it decreasing, or has it plateaued? Your monthly turnover provides the answer to these questions, giving you visibility into long-term trends that can impact resource allocation or inspire a deeper audit of performance issues. This is especially useful for companies that experience a spike in demand during certain months of the year.
7. TOTAL NUMBER OF OUTSTANDING INVOICES
A business should always have a clear idea of how much money is owed to them at any given time. The total number of outstanding invoices represents cash flow and how this might be impacted if outstanding invoices go unpaid. If you run a small MSP and do not have a dedicated accounts person, then it’s especially important to be consistent with credit control. Too many unpaid payments can lead to significant financial difficulties. By assigning deadlines for paying invoices and ensuring that these are met, you can ensure consistent cash flow.
8. CUSTOMER SATISFACTION
Customer satisfaction is one of the most important IT help desk performance metrics and should be monitored on an ongoing basis. This metric is intimately tied to many other metrics, including average resolution time and first-time fix percentage. To acquire this metric, you can request feedback every time a ticket is completed. You may also want to release customer satisfaction surveys, which are often sent out on a quarterly or bi-annual basis, giving you insight into where your business stands and how you might be able to improve.
9. AGENT SATISFACTION
Agent satisfaction is just as important as customer satisfaction, because satisfied agents are more likely to deliver high quality customer service. In other words, happy agents create happy customers. If your agents are overwhelmed with work, they won’t perform at their best, which will impact all the metrics included in this guide. You can measure agent satisfaction with one-on-one manager meetings and internal surveys.
10. NUMBER OF LOST BUSINESS HOURS
This metric refers to the number of business hours lost because of unavailable IT services. The aim of this metric is to keep the number of lost business hours to an absolute minimum. This metric is important because tracking service availability doesn’t always reflect the severity or impact of lost business hours. For example, if service availability is at 99.9%, the business still loses more than eight hours every year, which is not an insubstantial amount and will inevitably bring consequences. This might include lost revenue, reduced customer satisfaction, or lower rates of customer retention.
Getting started with an IT help desk ticketing system
You should use the metrics mentioned in this guide to review the effectiveness of your team’s work and the performance of your help desk. As the first line of support for your customers, it’s crucial your help desk performs as expected. To achieve this, we recommend using a wide range of tools. SolarWinds® MSP Manager is an IT help desk software with asset management capabilities that can help you take your customer service to the next level.
MSP Manager is a sophisticated and user-friendly tool that helps provide MSP help desks with everything they need to succeed. The software can be integrated seamlessly with SolarWinds RMM, extending its functionality into an all-in-one IT solution for MSPs. With this tool, you can deliver prompt and proactive service, allocate resources in an informed way, and bill customers quickly and efficiently. MSP Manager also features defensible invoices for rapid approval, intuitive and lightweight ticketing, batch billing reports, customer and knowledge management features, scheduling, and much more.
One of MSP Manager’s best features is the brandable customer portal, which keeps your business at the forefront of your customer’s mind when delivering support. The mobile application is another useful feature, allowing your technicians to take your help desk on the road and effectively serve customers from nearly anywhere. The app supports fast ticket generation and management, provides easy time tracking, and gives you visibility into device and system information.
Perhaps most importantly, the interactive workspaces and dashboards included in MSP Manager allow you to keep on top of your business health. These dashboards feature time logging, revenue forecasting, employee statistics, customer statistics, contract utilization data, and more—enabling you to unlock and analyze critical performance metrics to ensure your business is always improving itself.
Overall, MSP Manager streamlines your IT service management business by giving you powerful features to boost the efficiency of your team and provide exceptional IT service. To learn more, a 14-day free trial is available.