Enhance assessment with an ITSM system

Resolving an issue at lightning speed, in a friendly manner, and making the customer happy…If this ideal case is yet too far from reality, you definitely have to understand the current performance of your Tier 1 personnel and build a roadmap to its perfection.

Analysing service desk performance on the whole or by individual employees helps to unveil the overall efficiency of Tier 1 support.

To know how to raise this efficiency, as well as the operational level agreement (OLA) compliance, it’s necessary to detect gaps in individual IT support specialists’ performance.

Individual assessment helps to:

  • pinpoint better and worse performers.
  • establish a fair and objective rewarding.
  • understand the scope of required training.

That said, a continuous assessment of service desk employees’ performance can result in an ever-growing number of reports full of KPIs and metrics.

At the end of the day, this blocks insights into service improvement instead of helping to drive IT support performance.

Here comes a reasonable concern, how to make the assessment of Tier 1 personnel performance quick, easy, and transparent?

ITSM system as an assessment hub

Though support service is mainly about group work, monitoring of individual specialists’ performance can be established and automated to a certain extent.

An ITSM system already owns all information on service desk activities and provides strong capabilities for setting custom KPIs.

With a dedicated ITSM-based application, it becomes possible to automatically gather data on incidents and requests by specialist, calculate KPIs, compensation and penalties, and, finally, get dynamic performance reports for every Tier 1 employee in a handy way through dedicated scorecards.

Let’s see how to get it done with an ITSM system.

Comprehensive view of Service Desk employees’ performance KPIs

Service desk deals with basic customer issues that are mostly straightforward incidents and standard requests.

There, quantitative metrics can be used to compare performance of IT support specialists against each other, assuming that task complexity is considered to estimate the resolution timeframes.

With dozens of indicators to choose from, applying to ITIL v3 KPIs and focusing on the metrics listed below to get a full picture of Tier 1 employees’ performance is recommended.

Quantitative indicators

The number of incidents resolved and requests processed

This gives a quick overview of the scope of an employee’s activity over a period.

Incidents can be broken down by priority and category to visualise the diversity of completed tasks and provide for an objective employee-to-employee comparison.

Yet, assessing with these metrics alone can lead to incorrect judgements.

For example, a fall in the tickets resolved, if observed alongside a decreasing number of incidents coming to the system, indicates a positive trend in IT system performance rather than Tier 1 employees’ productivity issues.

To mitigate possible inaccuracies, task availability should also be taken into account.

For this, an additional KPI can be introduced, such as the ratio of incidents closed (requests processed) by a Tier 1 employee to the total number of incidents (requests) assigned to the group.

Incidents resolved with / without a resolution method

Normally, service desk employees apply guidelines from the knowledge base to resolve service issues.

However, if according to the company’s policy, service desk also handles incidents that do not have a predefined resolution procedure, efforts required from an employee are less obvious.

That said, it makes sense to separate incidents resolved with and without guidelines from the Knowledge Base.

ITSM tip 1: To support statistics on incidents resolved with or without a resolution method, a relevant parameter should be introduced to Incident Management so as to classify incidents.

ITSM tip 2: Automatic timers can be used to track time spent on ticket resolution without referring to the Knowledge Base, to make such tasks comparable.

 Qualitative indicators

The percentage of incidents (requests) resolved in time

For both incidents and requests, the basis for assessing the quality of service desk employees’ work is their compliance with OLAs in total and task resolution timeframes in particular.

With all the importance of time-based metrics, they shouldn’t be overestimated.

Too much concentration on timely closing of tickets can stimulate Tier 1 employees mark tasks complete before a quality resolution is in place.

This can result in multiple incident re-openings and decreased user satisfaction.

Reopened incident rates per Tier 1 employee

To indicate truly resolved incidents, a company can make corrections based on incident re-openings.

Apart from combatting false closing of tickets, such metric helps to identify gaps in skills of IT support specialists (e.g. certain types of incidents handled by employee A are often reopened).

Still, if noticed with respect to the entire team, a high re-opening rate can be a sign of an underlying problem with incident resolution (e.g. inaccurate information in the Knowledge Base).

The percentage of incidents escalated by a Tier 1 employee

At the next stage, ticket escalation can be taken into account to sort out tickets closed by a service desk employee with reference to other support levels.

For sure, every service desk should aim at a high first call resolution rate, since the fewer tickets are redirected, the more satisfied service consumers are.

A low escalation rate observed per a service desk employee indicates they have sufficient skills to handle assigned tasks, and vice versa.

An ITSM tip: To reinforce reasonable ticket escalation, Tier 2 and Tier 3 employees can be allowed to mark tickets that were escalated by service desk employees but could be resolved at a lower level.

Automatically counted by the system, such instances can be later used to calculate penalties for inadequate services.

First Response Time

This metric describes Tier 1 employees’ contribution to customer satisfaction.

Monitoring of the time passed between an issue assigned to a service desk employee and their first response makes for a fact-based motivation of employees to quickly react to tickets.

Time limits for responding to and handling incident tickets are stated in OLAs, but just identifying if agreement targets are breached or achieved doesn’t reveal trends in the response time.

Within an ITSM system, automatic timers can be used to separately track response and resolution time so as to detect at what stage more efforts are required from Tier 1 employees to get more satisfied service consumers.

Customer satisfaction

Being the first or even the only point of contact, service desk employees have a high influence on customer satisfaction.

Satisfaction rates can complement the performance metrics above to provide a consistent picture of an employee’s work.

The capabilities of an ITSM platform allow introducing brief customer satisfaction surveys upon closing of tickets or requests.

Based on templates, customers’ feedback will be collected and processed automatically, and then delivered as a total score of customers’ satisfaction with an employee’s work.

Fair remuneration based on Service Desk KPIs

Apart from bringing visibility into Tier 1 employees’ performance, the metrics above can be used for performance-based compensation.

Taking into account how complex it is to link bonuses to multiple indicators, we suggest applying an integral performance score based on several of the mentioned metrics.

For example, the system can calculate such a KPI by incorporating both qualitative and quantitative metrics, which in our case are the following:

  • the ratio of incidents (requests) closed by an Tier 1 employee to the total number of incidents (requests) assigned to a group
  • OLA compliance rate
  • penalties for improper escalation, re-openings or low customer satisfaction

The calculated integral performance score can be used to quickly view and monitor trends in the overall performance of service desk employees, as well as to rank, compare and remunerate them fairly.

For this, an ITSM system can calculate bonus payments based on compensation rules.

For instance, if the integral performance score exceeds the threshold of 80%, the Tier 1 employee gets $X as a bonus.

Making it work

With all the analytical work delegated to an ITSM-based application, it becomes easier to observe employee performance individually and get insights into how to improve it.

Currently, there is no out-of-the-box product on the market for this purpose.

However, the capabilities of a powerful ITSM platform (e.g. ServiceNow) can be used to build a custom application that will match your company’s needs.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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