“What are the metrics that measure your success?” – Insights from 20+ CIOs and IT Leaders

We at Freshworks had our first ever user conference, Refresh 18 at New York last year. It was a vibrant environment buzzing with discussions on customer and employee engagement. I was fortunate enough to moderate four round table discussions with over twenty CIOs and IT leaders on the topic “What are metrics that measure your success?”

We were able to get great insights around top success metrics and how IT Leaders are moving the needle on these metrics despite some of the challenges.

Top 3 Success Metrics

Success Metric #1: Request Deflection [Requests/Employee Ratio]

An increasingly popular success measure for IT leaders has been to bring down the Number of requests raised per employee as the organization headcount increases. This directionally indicates value creation by the IT service desk through process excellence. Performance of this KPI serves as a crucial input to IT staffing forecast and budget approvals.

How are IT leaders moving the needle on Request Deflection?

  • Single Portal for all employee requests: Have a default internal portal that employees will land on for all requests such as leaves, pay, travel, IT etc. Ensure this page is rich in FAQs and help documents on how a lot of things can be resolved without sending an email or creating a ticket.
  • Proactive Support: Predict issues that an employee might face basis the time of joining, devices assigned, job function, external events etc. and ensure to send him solution articles or DIY guidelines even before he reaches out to the IT desk. Automate this process.
  • Bots to the rescue: Have an employee assist bot on the internal portal that will prompt solution articles basis employee question or request. This helps deflect a lot of “How to” requests to the service desk. A bot can also help collect all the mandatory information you may need to start working on the respective issue raised. It also improves the employee experience.
  • Separating the noise from actual IT requests: Oftentimes a lot of “How to” requests come from new joinees that are really not issues and can be solved by just asking someone sitting next to them. Also, employees often mix up IT with Admin and Facilities. Our Head of Customer Success, Kalyanaraman Parthasarathi had a couple of recommendations that the IT leaders really loved through the discussions: 
  1. Have a Buddy program in place for all new joinees across teams. Let the buddy preferably be from the same team, so they can mentor the new joinee on all software/IT installations.
  2. In fact, have a tech/IT champion identified in each function/team who can constantly let the team know about Dos and Don’ts. Encourage a practice where all team members reach out to this SPOC when in doubt as opposed to raising a request for something that does not need one in the first place.
  3. Ensure a report is sent out to every Function Lead each quarter/month on the number of junky/unwanted/wrongly raised requests to drive this number down.


Success Metric #2: Resolution Time

While this is a standard service desk metric, bringing down this metric continues to be one of the top priorities of most IT leaders. They try to focus on every stage of the request from creation to assignment to resolution to ensure the overall resolution time comes down.

  • Effective request assignment workflow: Often times there is a delay in routing the request/ticket to the right agent. Constantly updating assignment rules basis request types, agent skill-sets, Issue complexity, device type etc. so the request gets assigned to the right agent saves time and reduces manual effort involved in the same. Ensure to track resolution time not at an overall level but by issue type.
  • Employee Context where the agent needs it: Integrating service desk software with HCM (Human Capital Management) and other software that help the agent have complete context of the employee (in terms of access, devices owned, historic record etc.) This reduces back and forth between agent and employee. The agent does not have to check multiple systems to get further context about the issue or perform actions involved in issue resolution.
  • Track not only agent wise performance metrics but also activities that drive them: Understand activities performed by top performers that result in high productivity and drive other agents to adopt the same. Agents using features such as canned responses, scenario automations and making use of solution articles are seen to be more productive compared to others.


Success Metric #3: Employee Satisfaction Rating

While end customer satisfaction ratings have always been a priority for businesses, increasingly Employee satisfaction ratings have become a priority for IT leaders. Only 20% of the leaders we spoke to, have a proper ESAT mechanism defined at a request level with good adoption in terms of response rate. However, this happened to be the priority for the coming quarter for almost 80% of the IT leaders.

Here’s how a few of them are moving the needle on ESAT.

  • Adopting Chat as a channel: Companies have seen an increase in Satisfaction scores by at least 20% when they introduced chat for internal employee IT support. The general perception is that opening up chat as a channel requires companies to staff up more. This is not true. In turn using chat can help automate answers and follow up questions to a lot of requests which helps in ticket deflection (providing solutions to employees in real time) and in reducing overall resolution time.
  • Increasing response rate for satisfaction survey: Step 1 to increasing Satisfaction scores is to improve response rates to such surveys. Start sending out ESAT surveys post issue resolution via chat and SMS so it’s easy for employees to respond on the go. Also, the most important way to drive adoption is to let employees know that these ratings are taken seriously. Taking action to make things right for the employee and popularising these stories across the company help increase response rates.

Top 3 Challenges that IT Leaders face today:

As we discussed priorities, we also got to understand some of the biggest challenges IT leaders face today.

Challenge #1: Justifying hiring forecast and staffing requests:

40% of the IT leaders we spoke to stated that justifying hiring forecast through data and budget approvals continue to be a challenge for them. It is always tough to validate whether your IT staff have been productive or over-burdened.

Our CIO, Prasad Ramakrishnan shared his views on how this can be dealt with. “The data and metrics that back up your staffing requests should be so strong that there is no scope for denial. The magic is in derived metrics and a combination of metrics that tell a story”

  • Start tracking satisfaction scores for every request resolved if you don’t already
  • On a month on month basis, track the metric #Requests Resolved/# Requests Received (of course ensure you have considered the general resolution time for different kind of requests)
  • Track the Avg #Requests/#Employee
  • Track #Requests Resolved/Agent in a month for every agent and see if there is a huge variation among each team member on how many requests they are able to successfully resolve.
  • While it may be difficult, try benchmarking your #IT Team members/ #Employees with other similar companies in the same industry and growth phase

All the metrics together tell your staffing story. In most cases, you are understaffed (rather your agents are overburdened) if:

  • The #Requests resolved/# Requests received per month is on a constant/decreasing trend AND
  • Your Satisfaction score is constant/or trending downwards month on month (Your employees aren’t happy with the support which in turn affects their productivity) AND
  • # Requests raised per Employee is constant/trending downwards (You`ve done your job in deflecting requests from employees) AND
  • Less of a variation in # Requests resolved per agent among the team members (More or less all your agents are productive) AND
  • Other ad hoc situations such as introducing a new software/device in the company and increase in issues in the inherent software/devices themselves.

If two or more of the above cases are true, you can tell a clear story as to why your IT team is understaffed and how it, in turn, impacts employees/company.


Challenge #2: Driving users from Walk-ins and emails to the portal

Another big challenge is that of employees using only email despite being provided with a portal. Even bigger than that is the challenge of employees walking up to the desk and asking for help without an email or ticket logged.

Here are some creative ways in which some IT leaders are solving for this:

  • Get a mandate to close down email as a channel for IT requests
  • Or set a relaxed SLA for email, so relaxed that employees understand that they will have to raise a request on the portal by filling up all the mandatory information needed
  • Have Kiosks set up closer to or on the way to the bay where the IT team sits. Now these Kiosks have the portal for raising requests open all the time. Best part is these kiosks have CANDY. Yes! Candy. IT teams request employees to walk up to the kiosk, grab some candy and raise a request on the portal so they can start working on the issue 🙂


Challenge # 3: ‘Not So Mainstream’ perception of IT

IT is one such function that people come to know of only when there is a disturbance in the steady state. When the IT team does its job amazingly well, people often don’t realize or fail to recognize the presence of IT. According to our CIO, Prasad, here’s how you can change the perception among employees and leadership in the company about IT being a just support function and bring it into the mainstream.

Communicating the value created is as important as creating the value itself.

  • Send out a monthly report that tracks performance on key metrics and insights to the entire leadership team. At first, this may not have an impact. Over a few months, the insights that you share will definitely result in some of the stakeholders asking questions. That is step one to changing perception.
  • Pick two of your highest priority metrics (aligned to your goals) and push for these to be part of your company dashboard/scorecard (that leadership and employees have access to). If your company has dashboard screens that track company-wide metrics, get the top metrics for IT service desk added to them too. Be prepared to change the metric if the metric is not delivering the intended behavior.
  • If you are looking to drive behavior, eg:- Shift of requests from email to portal or increasing response rates to surveys; Put these up on the screens/dashboards across all common areas in the office. Call out % of requests raised through email and how it has changed over the last 30 days. Scroll a list of names who took time to answer the Satisfaction survey post request resolution for the day. Constant reinforcement drives change in behavior and of course, helps others in the company understand the importance of the function.

I absolutely loved being part of these discussions. Especially, when you are part of the Customer Success org, what more than getting to understand what success means to your customers?

If you are part of the IT team, let me know if you resonate with some of these findings and insights or add to the list. If you are not part of IT, do share your side of the story on what your IT Service Desk means to you.


Originally written and published on LinkedIn by Yasasree Nerayanuri

Cover image by Sharmila