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Each month, I highlight one Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for service and support. I define the KPI, provide recent benchmarking data for the metric, and discuss key correlations and cause-and-effect relationships for the metric. The purpose of the column is to familiarize you with the KPIs that really matter to your organization and to provide you with actionable insight on how to leverage these KPIs to improve your performance!

This month, I examine annual agent turnover, which is the percentage of all agents that leave a support organization over the course of a year. Let’s say, for example, that the average agent headcount for your service desk is 15 and that 5 agents leave and must to be replaced during the year. The annual agent turnover would therefore be 5 ÷ 15 = 33.3%. The metric is equally applicable to the service desk and desktop support, but the examples and illustrations I use in this month’s article are specific to the service desk.

Some organizations make a distinction between good turnover and bad turnover. Bad turnover is when an agent leaves the company altogether because of performance issues or to pursue other job opportunities. So-called good turnover, by contrast, is when an agent who is otherwise performing well is moved or promoted to a non-customer facing position in the service desk or accepts another position in the company that is outside of the service desk. Both types of turnover are included in the calculation of annual agent turnover because both types of turnover create a vacancy that must to be filled.

Why it’s Important

Agent turnover can be detrimental to a service desk because it typically results in a seasoned agent being replaced by a less experienced agent. When there is turnover, the knowledge and experience of the agent leaving the service desk walks out the door with them. For those who have worked in a service desk, you know how painful this can be!  Industry estimates place the cost of replacing an agent at more than $12,000 in North America. This includes the cost of identifying, screening, recruiting, and training a new agent, as well as the indirect cost of lower productivity that results when a new agent encounters the learning curve of a new job.

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Jeffrey Rumburg

Jeff Rumburg is a co-founder and Managing Partner of MetricNet, where he is responsible for global strategy, product development, and financial operations for the company. As a leading expert in benchmarking and re-engineering, Mr. Rumburg authored a best selling book on benchmarking, and has been retained as a benchmarking expert by such well known companies as American Express, Hewlett-Packard, General Motors, IBM, and Sony. Mr. Rumburg was honored in 2014 by receiving the Ron Muns Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the IT Service and Support industry. Prior to co-founding MetricNet, Mr. Rumburg was president and founder of The Verity Group, an international management consulting firm specializing in IT benchmarking. While at Verity, Mr. Rumburg launched a number of syndicated benchmarking services that provided low cost benchmarks to more than 1,000 corporations worldwide. Mr. Rumburg has also held a number of executive positions at META Group, and Gartner. As a vice president at Gartner, Mr. Rumburg led a project team that reengineered Gartner’s global benchmarking product suite. And as vice president at META Group, Mr. Rumburg’s career was focused on business and product development for IT benchmarking. Mr. Rumburg’s education includes an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School, an M.S. magna cum laude in Operations Research from Stanford University, and a B.S. magna cum laude in Mechanical Engineering. He is author of A Hands-On Guide to Competitive Benchmarking: The Path to Continuous Quality and Productivity Improvement, and has taught graduate-level engineering and business courses.

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