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Metrics and Storytelling

Tue 05 Feb 2019 Company Author: HDI Support World Magazine Author: Roy Atkinson






supportworld , metrics and measurements , service desk , business of support , business value


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Part of running a service desk is having to ask for more: more resources, more tools, and more time. One of the top challenges our community has is the dreaded doing more with less. It’s amazing how successful support teams and managers have been at accomplishing more with less, as I mentioned in a recent webinar (available on demand). Year after year, a majority of respondents report that the volume of tickets has gone up, but we know—at least in most cases—their budgets have not kept pace. The scope of services offered has broadened and organizations’ dependence on technology has increased. Support centers have become masters of doing more with less.

Unfortunately, sometimes powering through and getting things done means cutting corners. It means being understaffed. It means worrying about meeting metrics targets instead of improving services. It means constantly asking, “How can we deflect contacts? What’s the least expensive option, even if it’s not really the right option? What can we shave off without having our customer satisfaction go down?” We struggle to get by because we struggle to get buy-in.

What we often wind up with is a willingness to settle for the bare minimum in everything we do. We have a minimum workforce. We meet service level agreements (SLAs), but don’t improve on them or raise the bar—even if only a little bit—for next year. We have too little time to think, to plan, to develop our people—and ourselves.

So how can you convince your organization to invest more without sounding like a whiner?

  • Rethink your metrics. Are you gathering the “same ol’ same ol’” numbers every day, week, month, year? Have you adjusted them to reflect changes in what you do and how you do it?
  • Make sure the story you are telling is the real story. Sometimes we’re convinced that x, y, or z is the case, but on closer inspection, we find that there’s something else that deserves more attention. In the TV series The West Wing, President Bartlet coaches aide Sam Seaborn at chess: “Look at the whole board,” he says. That’s good advice for metrics, too.
  • Make sure the story you are telling is the right story. Have you asked your management what they need to see that will convince them to allocate more resources to you? Are you demonstrating how you bring value to the organization as a whole?

Once you’ve got the right numbers and understand what they mean, you can begin to frame your narrative—and it really should be a story. Consider the difference between these two statements:

  1. Average Time on Hold: 6.7 minutes. Up 30% this period.
  2. This week’s winter storm kept five analysts out of work, increasing our average hold time by 30% to 6.7 minutes.

Which one has more impact? Which one reflects a clear view of “the whole board,” namely how weather-driven absences drove up hold time. (Maybe there’s an argument for home-based work here.)

Flat or decreasing budgets are a reality for most of us. What we can do is learn to re-prioritize based on the real needs of our organizations. Your metrics can help you understand what those needs are, as well as communicate them to those who can help. Look at the whole board.

Roy Atkinson Roy Atkinson is one of the top influencers in the service and support industry. His blogs, presentations, research reports, white papers, keynotes, and webinars have gained him an international reputation. In his role as senior writer/analyst, he acts as HDI's in-house subject matter expert, bringing his years of experience to the community. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @RoyAtkinson.


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