Incentivizing a Successful Help Desk Experience

It seems that no matter what sales management book you pick up, there are dozens of mentions of “aligning sales people’s interests with revenues” or ensuring the “sales person stays incented to keep on selling.”

With this in mind, why can’t we apply the same logic to our service team? After all, it is these men and women who act as the backbone to any IT operation. They are on the front lines, manning the trenches or whatever other cliche you might think of to emphasis the importance of this operationally focused division of your resource pool.

Before we can discuss incentives that will work to drive the performance of your Help Desk team, we first must clarify exactly what metrics we are using to assess their efficacy.

Top 8 Metrics that Drive Success on your Help Desk

  1. Response times: How long it takes for a live chatter or phone caller to connect with and start to receive support from a tech
  2. Average Handle Times (AHTs): Of all the interactions in a given month, what is the average support interaction length?
  3. First call close rates: How many customers get their issues solved on the first call?
  4. Escalation rate: How many incidents as measured by tickets are we escalating within our own tiers, and externally to vendors?
  5. Service Level Agreement (SLA) Satisfaction: Is your team living up to the overall promises that were made to the customer?
  6. Accurate ticket documentation: Are our technicians entering complete notes, covering all pertinent points including steps taken, follow up action and the user’s details?
  7. Customer surveys: What are the aggregate results for our team, AND – how does each technician fare?
  8. Quality Incident Management: How long does it take for a reported issue relating to a service interaction to be investigated and resolved? Is the total number of customer reported quality issues declining?

The above list allows for objective quantification of either success or failure. I am sure we can build this list out to include at least another 10 or 15 parameters, but over the years I have found that the less impact data has on the bottom line measure – the more room for confusion there is.

Aligning Interests with Incentives

I think it is safe to say that just like sales people, technical types respond to money in just the same way.

While some of the above listed metrics are best incentivized on an aggregate or team-wide basis, most allow for personal goals to be set and rewards to be granted when the measures are met or surpassed.

For example, average handle time targets should be set and closely watched. As a team the help desk needs to continually find ways to drive efficiency and get these handle times down. This focus on efficiency and reducing the number of man hours required to deliver your total commitment to support has obvious and potentially dramatic effects on profitability.

As for personal goal setting, metrics like ticket documentation quality, quality incident management and customer surveys can be easily used to reward excellent work that contributes to your overall help desk’s ability to deliver a superior customer experience.

This all begs the question – what should be used as rewards?

While the actual numbers will be dependant on a) your industry, b) your profitability and c) your cash flows, the potential reward needs to represent something large enough to make it worthwhile for your management team to monitor and your technicians to strive for.

Try playing with some numbers in the 5-7 % of compensation range for personal metrics, and brainstorm some more intrinsic rewards for the team, measures like the CEO/authority figure shaving his or her head, cool toys for around the office, team retreats. These team rewards are a great opportunity to not only say thanks, but to create bonding opportunities for your employees.

About the Author
Wayne Goldstein is the CEO of GMS Live Expert, a Hosted Help Desk dedicated to the MSP Reseller Channel. His team of 100% North American Help Desk and NOC and Technicians work to help their MSP Partners scale their businesses.