This week's mini-poll reveals, as perhaps expected, that the primary source of information used to measure desktop support issues are the number of support calls hitting the help desk and number of calls successfully resolved. For over three quarters of organisations, these two rather primitive measurements form the foundation …
time to close metrics - what management fodder
Ahh those metrics on "time to close" - management bean-counters love it because they think that it somehow measures how great of a job they're doing. Reality of it is much different.
If you have a problem that goes unresolved, eventually your IT department will close the ticket out of boredom, or out of the aforementioned beancounters' pressure to "make their numbers." There is always some "other" resolution code that lets them park it on a technicality and get it off their active list. To the user what happens is that you get harassing phone calls of "can we close the ticket now?"
Pressure is on closing the tickets; any actual resolution of a problem is just an accidental side-affect and not necessarily guaranteed.
Ending versus solving
The IT industry seems ( from a user's perception) to measure success based on speed of closing calls. This does not, however, seem to need to equate with resolving the issue. Or to put it another way. Once the support script has come to the end they will palm the user off and close the call. "You need to reinstall Windows and lose all your data" or, in the case of HP. "We can't resolve this issue, even though it is clearly covered by your warranty. You'll have to pay for a different levelof support and I guarantee they'll be able to resolve the issue evne though I couldn't"
Of course, this only measures the success rates for calls which make it to the support desk.
In my experience (as a user, not a helldesk operator), companies outsource the helpdesk to a bunch of monkeys who are incapable of suggesting anyting better then "reboot & try again". This is soon followed by a drop in helpdesk calls since everyone gives up and just gets the office 'expert' to help instead.
The resulting numbers are interpreted as a great step forward; fewer calls to the helpdesk /must/ mean that everythinbg is working better, of course. Then the poor sod who has now become the informal support tech gets caned in his annual review for not meeting his real project deadlines because he's so distracted by all the cries for help . He quits or gets laid-off, so the company has lost one person who really does know what he's doing.
Nothing left to do but award the cost-cutting bonuses for the year, while wondering why everything is going down the pan.
Our support metrics...
You could tell exactly when our support desk moved to number resolved / speed of resolution metrics. All of a sudden you got tickets issued to you by email and then immediately 'resolved' after every minor call.
We're on a sh*t implementation of Lotus Notes (aren't they all?) and if you get a big attachment come in from a client then you have to delete it and then call the support desk to get them to recompress your mailbox because it will insist it's still full. Until you do, you can't create meetings in the calendar and emails will stop saving to Sent Items.
The effect on the service metrics of having the world's worst email system? Loads of instantly resolved calls to the helpdesk asking for a mailbox to be recompressed. Brilliant.
Nice article, Tony. There is a better way of course...
Managing end user expectations around IT is an uphill battle for most IT departments, but end user surveys only tell half the story and are arguably subjective to recent IT experience rather than an objective look at how IT performs for them as a whole. It’s an area that has received much debate, but IT needs to take the destiny of end user experience into its own hands.
Traditionally they have been hampered in doing this as vendors have only offered siloed tools that don’t provide the visibility required to both identify and then swiftly resolve an IT problem impacting users. The result is wasted time and resources. What the support desk needs is a real-time view of the IT environment to ensure that the level of service delivered to the business is meeting expectations.
Relying on end user surveys is flawed and does not reflect the true value, or otherwise, of IT.