5 Core Help Desk Metrics to Boost Your Customer Support

You never want to miss out on an opportunity to improve your help desk process. Following these five metrics will give you the insight to tweak it ever closer to perfection.

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Customer care thrives through a strong relationship between your efforts to provide quality support and learning from your previous actions and missteps.

But learning from your successes and failures is more than just getting together with your help desk representatives for a customer service group therapy session. You need hard data to back up the insights everyone brings to the table, which is why it’s so important to include certain help desk metrics in your customer experience strategy.

I’ve put together a list of five major help desk metrics you need to measure in order to make informed decisions. However, nearly every category below includes additional, more granular customer service performance metrics you should measure while running your help desk.

Once you incorporate these into your strategy, you’ll have an easier time adhering to the help desk best practices of timely, accurate, and useful customer service.

5 key help desk metrics to track and monitor your customer service strategy

  • Ticket backlog
  • Open tickets vs. completed
  • Ticket channel source
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer wait time

1. Ticket backlog

If your help desk team is accumulating more tickets than they’re able to complete within a specified time frame, they’re building a backlog. Ticket backlog could stem from increases in support issues, understaffing of your help desk team, lack of accountability, or even something as simple as tickets never being closed when they’re finished. Your backlog won’t tell you exactly what’s wrong, but it indicates an issue.

Calculating your backlog is as simple as taking the number of tickets you’ve received within a specific time period and subtracting that number by those you’ve completed. Another useful calculation is your backlog as a percentage of monthly volume. If these calculations aren’t measured by your help desk software, here’s an example table that you can use to record your backlog month-over-month:

January February March
Monthly Tickets 2,576 3,243 3,015
Tickets Completed 1,966 2,429 2,355
Tickets Backlogged 610 814 660
Backlog Percentage 23.7% 25.1% 21.9%

2. Open tickets vs. completed

This is a crucial metric that measures your progress throughout a specific period of time. Like the first metric, I prefer to measure my open versus completed tickets on a month-by-month basis, but you can break it down into any stretch of time.

Any customer service software or IT management platform worth buying will certainly measure this metric, so chances are you won’t need my help to keep track of this. However, in case you don’t have one of these tools, here’s a simple formula to measure the percentage of tickets open versus those completed:

(Tickets Completed / Open Tickets) x 100 = Percentage Complete

You can use this to calculate the percentage of tickets each of your representatives leaves open at the end of each day, week, month, etc.


3. Ticket channel source

It’s not enough to measure how many tickets are coming in and going out. It’s important to understand where these tickets are coming from in order to know where to invest in your infrastructure. Typical ticket sources include:

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Live chat
  • Social media
  • Support ticket form on webpage
  • Software platform button

If your tickets are coming in droves from your email and not via social media, you can either invest in educating your customers about their other options or focus more on training your staff to handle email support tickets. The choice is up to you.


4. Customer satisfaction

The surefire way to make sure your help desk is doing its job correctly is by measuring your customer satisfaction. Typically this metric is built using customer surveys that measure the quality of your help desk efforts. Here are a few examples of customer satisfaction survey questions:

  • On a scale of X to X, how would you rate the timeliness of your customer service experience?
  • On a scale of X to X, how would you rate the helpfulness of your representative?
  • On a scale of X to X, how would you rate the friendliness of your representative?
  • On a scale of X to X, how would you rate the knowledge of your representative?
  • On a scale of X to X, rate the solution our representative provided.

The goal is to accumulate quantifiable data measurable over time. Each customer addressed by your help desk team should be given a survey in order to gather as much data as possible so you can make educated decisions about what to focus and improve on. This means incentivizing your customers to take the survey if necessary.

Remember to survey your customers on each aspect of your help desk experience as well as the overall experience so you can parse through each step and find pain points. Understanding the voice of the customer is the quickest road to customer satisfaction, which is the key to customer retention.


5. Customer wait time

Customer wait time goes along with ticket backlog as key insights into the effectiveness and efficiency of your help desk team. This metric will also allow you to set goals for better customer service with each day, week, month, or quarter that passes. Your granular wait time metrics include:

  • Initial response time
  • Average time between responses
  • Average issue resolution time (from initial response to completion)
  • Average total lifespan of tickets (from ticket creation to completion)

Here is an example of a customer wait time table to keep a record of your team’s efforts:

Initial response time Average time between responses Average issue resolution time Average total lifespan of tickets
Representative 1 00:27:34 00:03:44 00:24:18 03:43:21
Representative 2 00:09:04 00:02:12 00:15:32 01:41:17
Representative 3 00:12:18 00:01:49 00:19:02 02:18:11

Your help desk software will have to capture these numbers. It will either come standard with your solution, or you could even negotiate this as a custom feature from a vendor. Whatever you decide, be sure you’re making an effort to track these times since they’re crucial for a higher customer satisfaction rate.


The Blueprint is the perfect source for help desk improvement

Understanding metrics such as these is a key part of running your help desk. Why not take a look around The Blueprint for other helpful resources? We’re always striving to provide the helpful content you need to improve your help desk strategy and customer service, whether it’s through how-to guides, strategy pieces, or software reviews.

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