Using Key Metrics and Incentive Programs to Increase Your Help Desk’s Success

Good culture and high level productivity of your Help Desk is a key catalyst in the growth of your IT Company. If your service queues are growing out of control and your team is overwhelmed, it eventually spills over into other departments of your company. When your customers start to get frustrated due to breaches of your Service Level Agreement (or overdue tickets), they often take their frustration out on your Help Desk team. This can lead to potential blow-up situations on your front-line if not managed. This is why it crucial to maintain queues at a healthy level and ensure your Help Desk team is happy and efficient.

Why Help Desk Queues Grow & Productivity Slows

There are an endless amount of reasons why a Help Desk Queue can increase in quantity of tickets. Some reasons may be technical in nature (like a major outage at one of your biggest customers), some may related to Human Resources (like an key employee going on vacation). To understand every reason and attempting to prevent or manage them all at once can be an impossible task.

Once our company decided to take a much simpler view of this, we immediately got a better understanding of what was happening and how to avoid. Early on, we were one of the many small IT companies that struggled to keep our ticket Queue in check and pinpoint each little point of failure. It wasn’t until we started to take a holistic approach and measure team-wide successes and failures did we see the most improvement.

“Help Desk queues grow when there are more service tickets opened than there were tickets closed in any snippet of time. It’s that simple. “

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Key Productivity Metric For Service Queues

The “holistic view” that we took was this: Help Desk queues grow when there are more service tickets opened than there were tickets closed in any snippet of time. It’s that simple. If your team closes 100 tickets in a day and only 90 tickets were opened, than you managed to reduce the balance of the Help Desk queue by 10 tickets having a net positive impact on the day. If you combine multiple days together that have a net positive impact on your queue balance, than you can make significant progress in reducing ticket levels that week. If you combine multiple weeks together with a net positive impact, you have even greater progress that month.

This is the formula that we found for keeping track of our team’s productivity and ensuring that progress was always being made on the front-line. We call this metric our “Queue Plus-Minus (+/-).” Measuring queue +/- on daily, weekly, and monthly basis gives your team short term and long term goals to work toward that are simple to understand and measure regardless of the specifics as to how and why these numbers are what they are.

Tracking Short Term Productivity Goals

The best way to constantly track your Queue +/- is via the “dashboard widgets” in your professional service automation platform. Having these numbers available to everyone and having them automatically updating every minute ensures that your team is always engaged and aware of where they stand against their goals.

It is also important to capture the Queue +/- on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis via a spreadsheet or report. You can manually jot this down from your dashboard widget or pull the raw data into a custom report on a scheduled basis. Whichever way you choose to do it, there should be one standard report that is constantly maintained to compensate and reward employees for meeting their goals. This report can later be customized based on the goals that you choose.

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Rewarding Productivity & Goal Achievements

There are several ways to reward your team for meeting +/- goals. What is most important is that the rewards are done on a team basis. I believe this helps culture and team-building the most. While some technicians might be more productive than others, they tend to hold each other more accountable for their efforts when there is something at stake. This self-policing is extremely important if you do not have a dedicated Service Manager or Help Desk Lead in place and rely on ownership or other executives to manage the department.

When we came up with this system, we did not reward our team on a daily basis unless we wanted to make up a lot of ground in a short amount of time. Every month or so we would announce a +/- “sprint” in our morning meeting and set a goal for how much we wanted to reduce the balance for that day. There would often be a small monetary prize or gift card at the end of the day if this was achieved.

For our weekly goal, we created a static +/- and reward that is achievable every week. For example, anytime the weekly queue balance is -25 by the end of the day Friday, you can reward your team with a Taco party for lunch the following week. While it might seem small and insignificant, food incentives have proven to work time after time. The time spent together eating and socializing is also a great team-building exercise.

As for monthly goals, this when you should look to provide a significant monetary bonus for a net positive month. You can set different thresholds for the amount of positive progress that is made against the queue, but the important part is setting the goal and paying out when the team succeeds. If your team delivers and you do not, it can actually have an adverse effect on culture and you can lose the trust of your team.

In managing our MSP Business, we searched forever for the perfect formula or PSA report to track productivity of our team. Ultimately what we were doing was just wasting time. We came up with this as an incentive after we had a really bad week and it just stuck. The great part about this system is that it can be implemented almost over-night with little planning needed. Introduce this system as a one-time incentive and see how your team responds. If it works, keep going. If they fail to buy-in for whatever reason, than maybe it is not the best fit your personnel and team structure.