Published November 2020
While most CIOs rely on Service Level Agreement (SLA) metrics as standards of service desk performance, deep analysis of service desk trends is more challenging and nuanced. The IT service desk sees all the issues on the front line – software, hardware, and more. If there has ever been a year for increased efficiency and flexibility, it is this one. Here, we discuss best practices for addressing process improvement through the service desk.
First, are you capturing the correct metrics?
“All of my metrics are showing green, but when I’m on the floor gauging our employee population, I hear green.” What this type of statement means is the standard measures of performance are only telling you a piece of the user experience. The metrics you focus on should be indicators of the following:
- Financial value added to the organization
- The satisfaction of the end-user community
- Identify needs for improvement
- Demonstrate the capability to restore normal service operation as quickly as possible, minimizing any adverse impact on the user
First Contact Resolution vs First Level Resolution – which is better?
While First Contact Resolution (FCR) and First Level Resolution (FLR) are entirely different measurements, the lines between the two are often blurred. First Level Resolution includes all FCRs as well as any incident that is resolved by a level 1 agent. This could be a callback to the end-user from a more experienced agent to help resolve an issue that an initial agent could not. Or it could be a subsequent call to the end-user by the level 1 technician who has received guidance from a level 2 or level 3 technician after escalating the incident.
Reporting on FCR can be difficult depending on the technology and nuances in your service desk solution. The biggest challenge has been the technology’s ability to tie an incident to a call. Incident records and call records are often separated into different databases. It is critical to have sound logic that combines the databases to correctly report on the metric. For example, the average talk time for a specific incident type can’t be determined without associating each incident to a call and call length. The complexity increases when an ITSM integration is in place with two separate incident systems talking to each other. However, the ability to report separately on the two metrics can help identify gaps in the service being delivered and understand the user experience more fully.
The bottom line, FCR is a better indicator of user satisfaction while FLR is a better indicator of financial savings based on incidents.
The Tale of Two FCRs
Comparing Actual FCR (total contacts resolved/total contracts received) and In-scope FCR (resolution rate of incidents deemed resolvable through agreement) is useful in finding gaps for process improvement. A common example of an in-scope FCR incident is active directory password resets. Taking a look at measuring the resolution on just these expected tickets, the result would typically indicate a high resolution. If you’re only measuring all tickets and factoring in all different issues, including the ones that the service desk cannot resolve, you will be unable to see the gaps between the two and identify opportunities for improvement.
Additionally, each metric can be a check on the other to ensure your organization’s needs are met. It is recommended that both metrics are used in contracting. Based on our years of service experience, 60% actual FCR, and 90% in-scope FCR are good starting points for contract discussions.
One of the key drivers of user satisfaction – and an area to examine closely is ticket reassignment. How is the process? What is the experience from the service desk perspective?
Having a non-critical incident misrouted to the incorrect team can potentially delay resolution for the end-user by days or even weeks. If the issue is critical, resolution delays can amount to 4-6 hours, which could potentially be detrimental to your end-users and even your patients. Additionally, in hospital environments, it is equally as important for the Service Desk agents to collect the correct details for the second-level technicians to diagnose and resolve issues. In hospital environments, it has proven to be more difficult for technicians to get in touch with providers that are treating patients all day, moving room to room if more information is needed to resolve the problem.
These shortcomings are a shared responsibility between the Service Desk and Organization. One must provide the required information for the service desk to execute. The service desk must have the right personnel and process to resolve incidents. The best practice is to maintain < 1% of escalated tickets with incorrect details or assignments to the wrong group.
FCR is the most important metric for driving user satisfaction until the phone isn’t being answered. Average speed to answer (ASA) tells an important piece of the user story, and it is also one of the most important determinants of cost.
Reducing the time it takes for an agent to connect with an end-user requires additional resources and represents an exponential increase in costs. The flip side to this is a tipping point where customer satisfaction will plateau. A user is willing to wait on the phone for an acceptable number of seconds to get their call answered, as long as they know their issue will be resolved. However, if their call is answered within three seconds, but they typically get a ticket escalated each time due to an untrained Level 1 process, you will see that satisfaction plummet. It is important to find that sweet spot between what is acceptable versus the cost of staffing.
The next metric to consider is the abandonment rate, the percentage of calls that are abandoned before the end-user speaks to an agent. In our years of experience, we’ve found that 80% of calls answered within 60 seconds is a success rate that demonstrates the happiest customers at the right price. Coupled with a high-resolution rate, this 80% ASA within 60 seconds would align with a 5% or less abandonment rate.
There has never been a time when the pressure on IT organizations has been higher. You’ll find additional best practices and real-life case studies in the ebook: Diagnosing Your Health System’s IT Support Desk.
CereCore® provides EHR implementations, IT and application support, managed services, technical staffing, and CIO advisory services to hospitals and health systems nationwide. Our heritage is in the hallways of some of America’s top-performing hospitals as leaders in technology, operations, data security, and clinicians. We bring our unique perspective as hospital operators to every client engagement because we know ﬁrsthand the power that aligned technology can provide in delivering care. Enjoy these additional resources: