Inspiring Service Desks to Work for You: Achieving Service Desk Standards

Seemingly, achieving Service Standards should be relatively easy, after all they are standards.  However, when you start looking at the various categories of what encompasses Service Desk standards (abandon rate, average speed to answer, first call resolution, staffing ratios, FTE utilization calculations …), it is quickly realized that achieving standards is not so standard.  It may seem a bit overwhelming, but breaking each category down and walking through 4 basic steps will aide in establishing your Service Desk standards:

Step 1 – Research and identify ranges

First, choose a category and get to researching seeking to determine how it applies to your environment and identify ranges to consider.  Your research should be dynamic, reaching out to peers and networks to determine what other organizations are doing, and how does your organization compare?  Get involved with service desk associations in your city, region, or nationally such as HDI (www.thinkhdi.com).  And read respected research (Garnter, Forrester, HDI….) for standards and ranges.  Use any and all channels you have to gather as many data points as possible.  Then analyze the data for your environment and identify ranges.  Keep in mind, ranges may vary depending on the industry it serves.  For example, if you are managing a claims processing call center, your manager to analyst ratio is most likely lower than if you are managing a tier 2 application service desk.  So talk to peers, get involved with similar service desk organizations and Google for respected research before establishing your standard and range.

Step 2 – Determine how to measure

Next, make sure you have the tools to measure the standard at the appropriate frequency.  Usually you can build a report or dashboard in an existing tool such as an IVR, contact center solution, ITSM solution… and review that data instantly or on a set frequency.  Some standards such as FTE utilization may need a spreadsheet with various inputs to calculate the overall utilization.  Either way, make sure you have a way to accurately measure the standard and then review at the appropriate times. Frequency in which you monitor may be instant, hourly, daily, weekly or monthly.  For example, if you are establishing an abandon rate, make sure you have the tools to track and measure continuously.  You do not want to get to the end of the month, week or even day to determine you needed to adjust your staffing schedules.  Whereas staffing ratios can be tracked on a weekly or monthly basis (depending on your business needs). 

Step 3 – Set the standard and measure

Now that you have a way to track and measure your standard, determine where you want to start within the range you identified.  Consider where you and your organization fall in regards to starting at the aggressive, conservative or middle of the range.  For example, if your business requires a very fast average speed to answer then set that standard on the aggressive or fastest end of the range.  Now the standard is set, start measuring.

Step 4 – Refine the standard and go back to step 3

Your standard is set and you are measuring the results at the proper frequency.  Now you need to monitor the standard for the appropriate duration, possibly adjust to achieve the standard and perhaps even make changes to the standard.  Some standards may need to run for a few days or weeks to have enough data to analyze.  For example, the category of first call resolution would need enough data to determine where you may need additional training, knowledge articles, call routing etc. Whereas some standards need to be monitored instantly such as abandon rate to determine if you need a front-end message for an outage or if you have too many agents out of the queue.  So, monitor the standard for the appropriate duration, make the necessary adjustments and then continue refining for continuous improvement. 

Make sure you utilize your organization and team’s expertise throughout the process.  Not only will the results be superior, but you will have the support and buy-in needed to deliver the standards.  Thus achieving service desk standards may not be so standard, but using a simple breakdown structure will help you establish, redefine and optimize your standards for better service delivery and satisfaction.