I guess the root cause of my sickness began as a youngster in a small Idaho farming community. It seemed that metrics were used to determine the success or failure of almost everything we did. How many bales of hay could be rolled in the field in one hour, how many sprinkler pipes could you move before you were eaten alive by mosquitoes, how many aluminum cans could be collected per quarter mile, how many fish could be caught with just one worm? I know...it doesn't seem like an interesting way to spend your childhood, but it did help to establish a strong foundation for my future, and perhaps punishment, for the IT support staff who feel the results of my childhood learning.
I have been employed at the church for almost twenty years now and have focused primarily on the support side of the business and the last six years as the Director of Support. I eat, sleep, and breathe customer support concepts and ideas every day. Exciting? Absolutely; because I get to meet often with customers and help them do their job faster and more efficiently. ICS is focused on being fast and on-time in our services to our customers. That statement alone tells me that measurement is critical to our success. In order to improve our speed to delivery we need to have metrics in place that make a significant difference, and that help us identify the potholes in our information superhighway.
So what types of things should we measure?
Metrics should have a specific purpose and be used to influence behavior in a positive direction. Some of the key metrics that we have used in the support organization are:
- Percent of incidents that were resolved within the SLA (Service Level Agreements with the customers).
- Time to Resolution. How long did it take to solve the problem? I watch the oldest ten incidents and encourage my staff to keep their incident tickets off of this list.
- Customer Satisfaction. ICS Support measures specific information regarding the customers’ interaction with the staff. We also measure staff skills, such as technical ability, timeliness, and customer service attitudes.
- Trends in the number of incidents and service requests.
- Volume of incidents per product. We also track the top ten products that cause incidents. It makes for some great feedback to the product managers.
This is just a few of the many metrics we use in our organization. I believe, however, that it is possible to over-measure. When the process of measuring takes longer than the benefit you are receiving from the measurement, you're measuring the wrong thing.
Perhaps the ICS employees’ eyes glaze over when my reports are created and published, but we've seen a significant improvement as focus has been brought into different areas. As a result, customer satisfaction has increased, incident management time to resolution has decreased, and the support staff understands what contributes to their performance reviews. This success causes staff to become more enthusiastic to watch the metrics.
I am very interested to know what you have found to be the top five metrics that you use to measure your success and the success of your organizations.
So, the next time you are catching that fourth fish with the same worm, remember that you may have just set a new personal best. It is time to evaluate your metrics and perhaps elevate your goal for your next fishing trip.