The Real Cost of Reassigning IT Service Desk Tickets

The IT service management (ITSM) and IT support communities are quite rightly increasingly focused on employee or customer experience. With more and more companies focused on IT strategies and targeted improvements that enhance the IT support experience. A key element of this is speed – getting end users to the right people and/or the right

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By Pasi Nikkanen
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The IT service management (ITSM) and IT support communities are quite rightly increasingly focused on employee or customer experience. With more and more companies focused on IT strategies and targeted improvements that enhance the IT support experience.

A key element of this is speed – getting end users to the right people and/or the right information such that their immediate need for assistance can be met; whether this is related to an issue or a request, including requests for information.

IT-support ping-pong

Scenarios where employees are passed from service desk agent to service desk agent – as they patiently, or not so patiently, wait – are increasingly viewed as providing a poor employee experience. You know the type, the “Please hold, while I transfer you to a colleague who can help…” plus that it can often be a time-consuming and frustrating journey for the end user.

After all, no one likes to “ping-pong” between different people, having to wait on hold, perhaps having to re-explain the issue again and again, and maybe even having different people trying to apply the same unsuccessful solution.

It’s not great for the employee, and perhaps also less-than-great for the IT support personnel involved. But the really important impact, and cost, of this ping-ponging is at a business level – because the passing of tickets, and employees, between people, groups, and even companies can also be financially expensive.

But let’s start with understanding the true impact of ticket reassignment on the employee experience.

Understanding the employee “happiness” impact of bounced tickets

The data in Table 1 below shows the levels of employee happiness, relative to ticket assignment, based on 10,000 feedbacks from multiple companies.

Up to now, people might have assumed that the “bouncing” of tickets, and people, adversely affects the employee experience (and employee happiness); but this data shows that it does and, importantly, it shows the magnitude of the drop-off in happiness with each bounce.

The Real Cost of Reassigning IT Service Desk Tickets

Table 1: Employee Happiness by Reassignment Count

Of course, not all reassignments significantly impact the employee. For instance, a ticket might move between two IT support agents, or out to a third-party support team and back again, “out of sight” of the affected employee. But this doesn’t detract from the above data – because if this was taken into account the happiness-by-reassignment-count would potentially be worse, i.e. because some “invisible” bounces might have minimal employee impact.

Understanding the business impact of bounced tickets

Hopefully, the above data has furrowed your brow a little. But when you view the same data from a lost-productivity perspective, the alarm bells should really start to go off.

Table 2 shows the lost employee work time by reassignment count as reported in 38% of the feedbacks shown in Table 1, i.e. those that recorded the data. Please note that while the volumes are different due to the number of employees who have responded to the “lost work time” question, the percentage of responses in each count match closely.

The Real Cost of Reassigning IT Service Desk Tickets

Table 2: Lost Work Time by Reassignment Count

The table shows that each bounce not only delays the solution, which might be far more than the above if viewed as elapsed time, more importantly the affected employee loses productivity – with more and more productivity lost as the number of bounces increases.

Quantifying the business cost of bounced tickets

In an ideal world, there will be a minimum of ticket bounces, with the first service desk agent “on deck” able to handle the ticket. However, it’s not always going to be possible and an over-zealous agent keeping an end-user on the phone, probably on hold, while they try to hit a first contact resolution (FCR) target isn’t doing the end user any favors in terms of their productivity (or, in fact, their own productivity for that matter).

But what if your service desk tried to significantly reduce the number of ticket bounces? For example, through better initial ticket distribution, recruitment practices (and the staff recruited), knowledge management, and second-touch resolution practices. This would potentially save the business money (as well as providing a better employee experience).

Think about it. It would save time and money on at least three levels:

  1. Service desk personnel time and potentially opportunity cost
  2. Employee lost productivity and frustration caused by this
  3. The potential business impact of lost employee productivity, for instance lost sales and the associated revenue (it’s the employee opportunity cost).

In can get very “fuzzy,” as to what an individual incident costs the business, so let’s keep it simple.

If an employee has an all-in cost to the business, so not just their pay, of GBP 50 or USD 65 per hour, then each ticket costs GBP 100 or USD 130 more, perhaps notionally, if it needs to be reassigned twice (due to the lost employee productivity).

Why “perhaps notionally”? It could be argued that the employee will work an additional two hours of “unpaid overtime” to overcome the effect of the lost productivity, rather than it being a true business cost. Or alternatively, the lost two hours might cost even more than the all-in employee cost in terms of the adverse effect on the business. As I said, it can be fuzzy math.

The cost of lost employee productivity might be very clear-cut for your company, or it might be somewhat fuzzy. Either way, please use our lost-productivity ROI calculator to start to understand what bounced tickets are costing your business. It’s the first step in reducing the drain ticket reassignment makes on your organisation.

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