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Service Desk Measurement - Be careful what you wish for!

September 29th, 2009

Mini-series on measurements that can come back to bite you…..

The trouble with performance metrics is that they can actually encourage inefficiency, de-motivate resources and result in misinformed management decisions if not thoughtfully designed and carefully monitored!

Take for example an organization that has a published target for their Service Desk’s ability to resolve inquiries at the first point of contact (FPOC rate).

This measure is expected to positively impact two important facets of the service desk – customer satisfaction and cost.

Customer Satisfaction - The premise behind this measure is that customers’ satisfaction is positively impacted by quick resolutions.  After all, who doesn’t like to have their questions/issues resolved quickly and without being transferred or bounced around an organization?

Cost  - Generally organizations have tiered levels of support with resource costs increasing at each level. It makes sense that the more incidents/inquiries that can be resolved at FPOC, without handoffs to more expensive tiers of technical support, the more money that can be saved.

Also, organizations often use this measure to compare themselves to other service desk organizations and to communicate their service desk’s value proposition.

While on the surface this seems simple, practical and a no-brainer there are potential “gotchas”. Consider the following simple scenario.

An organization’s service desk proudly promotes an FPOC rate of 80% or better consistently month-over- month.  Remarkably the Desk has been able to maintain this for 6 straight months! Agent’s performance reports show that individually they are meeting or exceeding their assigned FPOC targets.  Comparisons to other service desks FPOC are favourable and management assumes this is a very positive measure – right?

Maybe not, a High FPOC rate may actually be signalling a lot of repetitive incidents.  Agents at the desk can get very skilled and efficient at resolving the same issues over and over again and the hidden cost can be easily overlooked.

Points to Ponder

While initially customers will be pleased with a timely restoration of the service, their satisfaction will drop quickly if they keep having the same problems over and over again.

Resolving the incident quickly with lower cost resources is, on the surface, efficient; however, if that incident is happening repeatedly what is the total cost of the repetitive incident?

From a value perspective, which desk would you choose?  One that has an 80% FPOC but is continuously resolving the same type of incidents or one that has a 50% FPOC but continuously reviews incidents trends and permanently removes repetitive incidents from their environment?

Simple Tips

1. Don’t look at your FPOC in isolation.  Always look for correlation to satisfaction trends and hidden costs.  

2. Seek out and destroy repetitive incidents. Analyze the types of incidents that are being resolved FPOC and identify repetitive incidents for permanent resolution.

3. Use your incident data to “expose the cost” of repetitive incidents and be sure to report the cost savings/avoidance achieved by removing the incidents right along beside your new, possibly lower FPOC number.

4. Your service desk agents are a great source of information on your top repetitive incidents – tap into their knowledge & experience.  Reward them for identifying repetitive incidents and other improvement opportunities.

One Final Thought with a Bit of a New Twist on an Old Measure

Many desks set high FPOC rates but then do not give the agents the tools or permissions they need to achieve it!

If you have a lower than desired FPOC resolution rate, you may want to consider measuring “designed for FPOC”.  You may be surprised to find that your service desk is actually not able to achieve an acceptable FPOC because of the way your support delivery is designed!

Too often the service desk is not provided with the necessary information (troubleshooting scripts, configuration information, etc) or the necessary permissions to actually resolve incidents at FPOC.

This very simple measure, “FPOC by Design”, reflects an organization that has designed support specifically for each product/service, and is monitoring how well its service desk is performing against achievable targets.

Low FPOC on a product that has been designed for FPOC provides an important area to analyze agent performance and training opportunities.  Conversely, high incident areas with low FPOC for products/services NOT designed for FPOC make be a great place to review the support model and look for opportunities to empower your service desk further.

Measurement is definitely an important part of continuously improving your Service Desk and driving up value and customer satisfaction.  Relentless review of relevant, insightful metrics will keep you at the forefront. Next time let’s look at Mean Time to Restore Service (MTRS)………

Question
Have you come across any measures that have done you more harm than good?  Do you have any really GOOD or really BAD measurement stories to share? I’d love to hear them……

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Maria Ritchie Uncategorized , , , , , ,

Evolving Metrics as a Key Component of Your ITSM Evolution…

June 1st, 2009

Metrics and measurement will naturally evolve as service management maturity and organizational maturity evolves, they have to…  measurement is such an important part of any service management discipline.  The evolution of your measurements should always be planned in accordance with the business drivers to ensure measurement capabilities can sufficiently underpin the business activities.

Whether you are starting a measurement program from scratch or you are well on your way, there is always room for improvement and to evolve to another level of maturity.   The following chart is a sample of an organization’s measurement path that evolved as the service management program evolved to meet the more demanding business needs.  It shows the evolution of the key information elements and key performance indicators. Read more…

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amassicotte Uncategorized , , , , ,