• How Much Are Your User Issues Costing You?

Technology should save us money, but when it goes wrong, it seems to do the opposite. Every time a user calls a help desk, the costs rack up. How can you measure the cost of user issues so you can reduce them?

Begin with a metric to describe user support costs. One simple indicator is the cost per user, but that doesn’t tell you much about the issues you’re paying for, or where they’re coming from.

A more useful option is the cost per ticket. This tells you how much you’re paying each time a user logs an issue with the help desk. Like the cost per user, the cost per ticket is a relatively simple figure to calculate. Divide the total monthly support cost by the number of tickets you raise each month to get an average.

Digging deeper

Averages look good on paper, but as any weary support technician will tell you, there’s no such thing as an average support call. Digging further into these ticket costs can reveal much more about where you’re spending the most on user issues.

Employee time will make up the lion’s share of your support costs, but there are other contributing expenses, such as part,  transportation, equipment, and telecommunications costs. The distribution of these costs depends on the ticket type.

There are two main kinds of user issue: incidents and service calls. Support staff can often resolve incidents remotely. A user who needs more email storage capacity or who forgets their password can often fix the problem with a quick phone call. 

Service calls are usually more involved. Crashed hard drives or damaged display cards need replacing, which involves spending some quality time with a technician, a screwdriver, some parts, and possibly a van. It is also more likely to throw the user out of action for a while, incurring downtime costs. 

Producing a weighted average based on the ratio of service calls to incidents can help you better understand the distribution of user issue costs. You can also allocate some costs like parts and transport just to service calls. 

Even the cost of staff varies. Tier-one staff can deal with basic queries while escalating more puzzling problems to higher-paid tier-two employees. Dividing these two kinds of incident ticket will give you more insight into your support budget.

Analyse ticket types along with metrics such as the kinds of problem users complain about and which departments are raising them. This can help drive costs down. by revealing opportunities for automation. 

You might find that a tier-one support employees spend a lot of time on simple password resets you can eliminate by introducing an online self-serve option. Support logs could surface a commonly occurring system issue you can pre-empt with desktop scripts or changes to a group policy setting.

These insights might uncover preventative measures that save support costs. Perhaps the accounts department keeps complaining about the same slow network issue, and a simple network segmentation could solve the problem.

Just remember, driving down the cost per ticket takes some thought. Cost-cutting measures shouldn’t impact the user experience. Other metrics such as the rate of successful resolutions and employee satisfaction are just as important as how much IT support is costing you. 


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