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Each month MetricNet highlights one Key Performance Indicator for Service and Support.  We 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 Key Performance Indicators 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’s Metric: Service Desk Cost per Ticket

Cost per unit is a common metric throughout our economy.  Many of you know the cost of a gallon of gas, or the cost for a cup of coffee, or the cost of a movie ticket.  Yet surprisingly, many service and support managers do not know their own Cost per Ticket.

Cost per Ticket is the total monthly operating expense of a service desk divided by the monthly ticket volume. Operating expense includes the following components:

  • Salaries and Benefits for service desk agents
  • Salaries and Benefits for Indirect Personnel (Team Leads, Supervisors, Workforce Schedulers, Dispatchers, QA/QC Personnel, Trainers, and Managers)
  • Technology and Telecom Expense (computers, software licensing fees, ACD and VRU costs, telecom headsets and handsets, etc.)
  • Facilities Expense (office space, utilities, insurance, etc.)
  • Travel, Training, and Office Supplies

Service and support is a labor-intensive function.  So, as you might expect, the vast majority of costs for a service desk are personnel related.  Figure 1 below shows the average cost breakdown for service desks worldwide in 2016.  This cost breakdown remains relatively constant from country to country, and from region to region.

Figure 1:  Worldwide Service Desk Cost Breakdown

Why it’s Important

As we learned in last month’s Metric of the Month, Cost per Ticket, along with Customer Satisfaction, are often referred to as the foundation metrics in service and support.  They are the two most important metrics because ultimately everything boils down to cost containment (as measured by Cost per Ticket), and quality of service (as measured by Customer Satisfaction).

In any service delivery organization, cost, or more accurately unit cost, is critically important.  Cost per Ticket is a measure of how efficiently a service desk conducts its business.  A higher than average Cost per Ticket is not necessarily a bad thing, particularly if accompanied by higher than average customer satisfaction and service levels.  Conversely, a low Cost per Ticket is not necessarily good, particularly if the low cost is achieved by sacrificing service levels or customer satisfaction.  Every service desk should track and trend Cost per Ticket on a monthly basis.

Key Drivers of Service Desk Cost per Ticket

Borrowing the cause-and-effect diagram from last month’s Metric of the Month, we can see that Cost per Ticket has a number of key drivers.  The most important of these drivers are Agent Utilization and Ticket Handle Time.  Secondary drivers include Absenteeism, Turnover, and the Ratio of Agents to Total Service Desk Headcount.  These KPIs have been highlighted in the diagram below.

Figure 2:  Service Desk Cause-and-Effect Diagram

The correlation between Ticket Handle Time and Cost per Ticket, and between Agent Utilization and Cost per Ticket is illustrated in the two charts below, that each contain 125 data points. 

Figure 3:  Ticket Handle Time vs. Cost per Ticket

Figure 4:  Agent Utilization vs. Cost per Ticket

The relationship between handle time and Cost per Ticket is fairly intuitive. 

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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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