The quality of IT service management (ITSM) can massively impact the performance of a business. If managed ineffectively, IT issues may take longer to resolve, leading to a drop in productivity.
According to a survey conducted by AXELOS, only 48% of organisations rated their IT support as good or better. This indicates that over half of businesses believed their IT support was less effective than it should be. This isn’t good enough.
There are a few things quality ITSM teams can implement to avoid low customer satisfaction. One important approach is using Metrics and KPIs to their advantage.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Tracking metrics and KPIs is crucial to the success of outsourced IT support. In this Insight, discover how quality ITSM teams leverage ITSM metrics and KPIs to provide an enhanced IT solution.
What are ITSM KPIs and Metrics?
The terms KPIs and metrics are often used interchangeably but have specific definitions.
ITSM metrics are quantitative measures that assess various aspects of IT service delivery, providing a detailed view of overall performance. KPIs are specific metrics that directly link to a goal or strategic objective of an organisation. They indicate how well a service team is progressing toward specific business goals.
They are both used to measure performance and contextualise specific data to provide insights that can be actioned on.
Understanding the power of KPIs & Metrics
ITSM KPIs and metrics can unlock critical insight into the performance of an IT support service. They unveil knowledge about the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of ITSM that may be obscured without the deployment of metric and KPI tracking.
ITSM metrics and KPIs have a lot of hidden potential and can be exploited to make a service better. They can be used to:
- Track and trend performance over time
- Benchmark performance against industry competitors
- Identify areas of strength and weakness within IT support
- Find the underlying cause of any performance gaps
- Aid in the prescription of actions to improve performance
Taking advantage of metrics and KPIs can revolutionise the delivery of IT support, changing it from reactive to proactive ITSM.
10 core ITSM KPIs & metrics
1. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
Overall customer satisfaction is a prime indicator of IT support desk quality. If clients are satisfied, then it displays that a good service is being provided to them. Every outsourced IT solution should aim to have a high customer satisfaction rating: the higher the score, the happier the end users are.
Gathering this data is often done through feedback mechanisms and periodic CSAT surveys. Regular CSAT assessments help IT support desks understand how their customers are thinking, making it easier to improve service.
2. First Contact Resolution (FCR)
Measuring FCR is a great way for IT support teams to assess their overall efficiency. This KPI measures the percentage of raised tickets that have been resolved during the first contact with a support team.
Knowing this metric provides good context on how well ITSM is working. It captures how effectively teams are understanding problems and their ability to address them. A high FCR percentage prevents any subsequent calls or interactions, reducing costs while aiding productivity.
Industry standards call for a 70% to 79% FCR rate, but it’s important to understand that not all tickets can be resolved in the first interaction, so expectations need to be realistic.
3. Average First Response Time
This metric tracks the time it takes for a support agent to respond to a raised ticket. Customers expect a prompt response to their queries and issues, so ITSM teams should aim for as low a response time as possible. A low wait time boosts customer satisfaction and builds trust.
The average first response time should be under a specific limit, and this should be known by all within the service desk. The acceptable wait time will differ depending on the channel used to make the first contact. Automation and AI can be implemented to help provide faster response times and better manage expectations.
4. Time to Resolve
IT support teams need to be quick when responding to issues, and they also need to be quick to resolve them. The Time to Resolve metric provides insight into how long a customer is kept waiting until their issue is fixed. It plays a massive part in delivering good customer satisfaction.
The best ITSM teams track resolution time with the MTTR metric, which provides the average time taken for all raised tickets to be resolved within a given timeframe. A lower time to resolve MTTR reflects higher efficiency, reducing the impact these IT problems have on their customer’s business. Analysing this metric can further identify bottlenecks or areas within the adopted ITSM process that may need improvements.
5. Problem Resolution Rate
If an outsourced IT support service isn’t fixing issues, then it’s not a very effective solution. The Problem Resolution Rate is a powerful metric that displays the percentage of resolved problems completed within a defined timeframe.
This is essentially the success rate of an IT support desk and can be used to compare effectiveness during different periods. A higher Problem Resolution Rate ensures that an outsourced IT system is reliable. A poor percentage can indicate that staff may need training or that a new process needs to be adopted to improve things.
6. Incident Volume
It’s useful for ITSM teams to have a good understanding of the volume of support tickets coming in. Understanding how many tickets are coming in and being resolved during a specific period can inform them of their optimal output, helping with future planning and resource management.
Tracking incident volume can also help identify trends and recurrent problems, again leading to better management and planning. Over time, a reduction of Incident Volume can demonstrate that an ITSM team is becoming more stable and reliable with their solutions.
7. Cost per Contact
Cost per Contact - also referred to as Cost per Ticket - is a metric that showcases how much a service team is spending per each issue raised. It’s a great metric to track how cost-effective an IT solution is, as a lower Cost per Contact suggests that an IT service is being more efficient.
Cost per Contact collates all operating expenses, including things like salaries of personnel, hardware and software costs, telecommunications, and all other related expenses. Using this data, IT support teams will be able to determine if they’re over- or under-investing in IT support.
8. Service availability percentage
A good support service needs to be available for customers to use. When first implemented, every support service will come with a service level agreement (SLA), detailing the minimum level of service they should expect.
Service availability percentage is a KPI that tracks how often a service has been available against the requirements of the SLA. Service unavailability can cause downtime for a customer, resulting in a loss of productivity, revenue, and customer satisfaction. As it impacts the end users, this is a vital metric to demonstrate the value of IT services to the business.
9. SLA breach rate
The service level agreement (SLA) needs to be adhered to, otherwise, customers aren’t getting the level of quality that they’ve paid for. SLA breach rate is crucial to measure, as it shows how well an IT support service is matching that agreement.
For example, an SLA could stipulate that a high-priority support ticket needs to be resolved within 3 hours. If it takes longer, that SLA term has been breached. The SLA breach rate is worked out by taking the number of tickets that have breached the SLA and dividing it by the total number of tickets.
A high SLA breach rate can indicate that a support team needs more resources or training to ensure that they can resolve issues promptly.
10. Balanced score
Instead of tracking multiple isolated metrics at once, a balanced score can give ITSM teams an overall indication of their performance with just one KPI. A balance score collates the information from other metrics, aggregating it to give a single figure that can be used to represent the quality of ITSM delivery.
A balanced score can be great when providing a general overview but can also be useful when sharing information on service quality with a layperson who may be overwhelmed by multiple metrics.
When creating a balanced score, ITSM teams must first determine the most crucial metrics they want to track, weigh them in terms of their importance, and then use that weighting system to provide an average score of all the metrics that feed into it.
Using metrics and KPIs to deliver enhanced IT support
Knowledge is power. ITSM metrics and KPIs provide an enhanced dashboard of data, allowing service teams to be more proactive in the delivery of their support. Collating data and insight through monitoring is one thing; taking advantage of the knowledge learnt is another ball game.
Guided by our True North values and best practice protocols, our IT support teams efficiently manage your IT solutions, using these to offer superior value. Our people understand how to get the most out of IT service management and utilise their experience to consistently implement an ever-optimised IT solution that can grow with your business needs.
Our approach to IT service management is at the forefront of the industry, using KPIs and more to not just offer the bare minimum; but to dig deeper and push our IT Outsourcing further.
- IT Service Management (ITSM) Benchmarking Report. Axelos 2022 [Accessed 29 January 2024]