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Smart Ways to Evaluate – and Reduce – Your IT Service Desk Cost Per Ticket

Smart Ways to Evaluate – and Reduce –  Your IT Service Desk Cost Per Ticket

Perhaps your IT help desk is in-house. Or, you might have outsourced part or all of your IT service desk.

Either way, one of the best big-picture ways to assess help desk performance is by calculating your Cost Per Ticket. This metric is the gold standard when it comes to determining the efficiency of your IT help desk – and the efficiency of any outsourced IT help desk vendors you may be considering.

Here are the things you must know about your Cost Per Ticket so you can make smarter business decisions.

Service Desk Cost Per Ticket, Defined

Cost Per Ticket is an IT service desk metric that indicates the average cost of resolving a ticket. Cost Per Ticket is typically calculated on a monthly basis. When an outsourced help desk vendor quotes you their Cost Per Ticket, they are telling you their average Cost Per Ticket per month.

Speaking broadly, you calculate your Cost Per Ticket by adding up all your help desk’s operating expenses for a given time period (typically a month), and then dividing that total by the number of tickets you resolved during that same time period.

For example:

  • Total monthly help desk operating expenses: $25,000
  • Total monthly volume of resolved tickets: 1,000
  • Average monthly Cost Per Ticket: $25

While this seems like a simple calculation on its surface, there are a few things to consider.

A Few Caveats About Cost Per Ticket

The last time we checked, the average Cost Per Ticket for IT help desks in North America was $22. But before you fall off your chair at this number, you must understand a few things about Cost Per Ticket.

For one thing, Cost Per Ticket is a mean average, not a median average. It simply takes all of your operating expenses and divides them by all of your resolved tickets. It takes no notice of the types of tickets you resolved, or the length of time you took to resolve them, or the number of support tiers involved. This means your Cost Per Ticket can easily be skewed by the types of tickets you create and resolve.

For example, if during the month of February, you create a disproportionate number of tickets that require Tier 3 escalation, multiple agents and multiple days to resolve, then those tickets account for a lopsided amount of your operating expenses and make your Cost Per Ticket much higher in February than it is in other months.

Also, Cost Per Ticket is an average spread across all your tiers of support. Tier 1 tickets are typically less expensive to resolve than Tier 3 tickets because they are less complicated and require fewer resources. But your average Cost Per Ticket doesn’t reflect this unless you break it down, calculating your Cost Per Ticket for each support tier.

How to Calculate Your Service Desk Cost Per Ticket Accurately

Your average Cost Per Ticket is only accurate if you include all your operating costs. You may think your current average Cost Per Ticket is low, but that might be because you are not measuring all the expenses you incur while operating your help desk.

To get an accurate average Cost Per Ticket, measure all your service desk operating expenses. These include items large and small, such as:

  • Agent salaries
  • Agent benefits
  • Support employee* salaries
  • Support employee* benefits
  • Payroll taxes
  • Technology (desktop computers, servers, software licenses, data centers, analytics tools, reporting tools)
  • Telecommunications (headsets, VoIP hardware & software, Automatic Call Distributor, Interactive Voice Response)
  • Facility (office space lease payments, utilities, cleaners, property taxes, common area maintenance fees, repairs)
  • Legal fees
  • Consulting fees
  • Office supplies
  • Training
  • Meals and refreshments
  • Travel
  • Insurance

* Support employees include everyone from supervisors to trainers, from QA auditors to schedulers, from team leads to security staff.

Now, do the calculation again. If it’s much higher than $22 on a consistent basis (again, it’s important not to look at just one month’s worth of data here), that may mean you have some room for improvement.

How to Lower Your IT Help Desk Cost Per Ticket

The quickest way to lower your Cost Per Ticket is to empower your Tier 1 support agents to resolve as many ticket types as possible.

After all, the more tiers you involve in resolving a ticket, the more you must spend. So, ensure that your folks in Tier 1 have the tools and training they need to resolve tickets during that vital first call.

Another way to lower your Cost Per Ticket is to deploy a variety of self-service options that helps your users resolve minor IT issues themselves. These resources include knowledge bases, AI-powered chatbots and messaging, FAQ pages, community forums, and mobile apps.

A third way to reduce your Cost Per Ticket is to outsource all or part of your IT service desk. An outsourced help desk vendor like Global Help Desk Services, Inc. lowers your Cost Per Ticket by increasing your Tier 1 resolution rates, reducing the time it takes to resolve tickets, making your ticket-escalation system smarter, and lowering your infrastructure costs and operating expenses.

How to Get an Accurate Cost Per Ticket Quote from an Outsourced IT Help Desk Vendor

Outsourcing part (or all) of your help desk function to a third party is a big step. To ensure success, you need to have the right data on hand, conduct your due diligence and know exactly what you are looking for in a vendor.

Related Reading: Before Outsourcing Your IT Help Desk, Answer these 6 Questions

  • Gather the right data: If you want to compare apples with apples, you must know what your current average Cost Per Ticket is. This means you must know what your average monthly operating expenses and average monthly ticket volumes are. Additionally, gather data on the types and complexity of the tickets you get.
  • Conduct your due diligence: Please don’t immediately hire the vendor that promises you the lowest Cost Per Ticket. Instead, do your due diligence first. How are they doing financially? How good is their reputation in the industry? Are they the subject of negative reviews, scandalous news reports or legal action? Just how secure is their operation against cyberattacks and data breaches? Do you agree with their policies and procedures? This may seem like overkill, but when you outsource your IT help desk, those agents become the face of your entire IT organization – a low Cost Per Ticket shouldn’t come at the cost of accuracy or customer satisfaction.
  • Know what you are looking for: Cost Per Ticket is a valid metric when you are comparing your internal help desk with an outsourced help desk line item by line item. This means you must know what you are looking for in an outsourced service desk in terms of service levels, coverage, languages spoken, scalability, agent turnover rates, customer satisfaction scores and plenty more. A low Cost Per Ticket is helpful, but not if everything else is lacking.

A Lower Service Desk Cost Per Ticket Can Be Yours

Cost Per Ticket is a vital metric. Paired with customer satisfaction, it gives you a measurable indication of how well your IT help desk is performing. It is also a great way to measure outsourced help desk providers. Just make sure you know your numbers, you do your due diligence, and you know what you are looking for in a help desk partner.

By the way, Cost Per Ticket is simply one way to measure your return on investment. There are plenty of other ways. Discover them in our free guide: Measuring Your Real Help Desk ROI: 4 Steps to a Better Analysis.

Help Desk ROI: It's Not Just Financial