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How do you benchmark your service desk performance?


Recently, we asked several HP customers to share with us the values they thought should be benchmark comparisons for several typical service desk metrics. We also asked them to confidentially share their performance by selecting a range bucket that most applies to them. A lot of interesting data came out of these interactions, but for this post I’ll focus on what we learned about one really important service desk metric: first call resolution.


What’s a good benchmark for first-call resolution?

Based on a weighted average, our participants felt that the first call resolution benchmark should be 75%. I know this is a good number because in a presentation several years ago, I asked the audience for a number around a 100 and by a show of hands, the group settled upon 75%.


So given that the audience settled on 75%, the next logical question is how well are they actually doing against this benchmark? Here’s where the results surprised me. Only 12.5% felt that they were making benchmark. And in 81% taking the survey said their first call resolution was 65% or less. Now, this was a relatively small group of HP customers. To really find out what’s going on with service desk performance we would like a bigger group to participate in our survey. So we want you!


We want you.jpg



We would like you to vote on this and other service desk benchmarks. Please click the below link and confidentially share what you think the benchmark performance should be for this and other service desk measures.


Why these benchmarks matter

So here’s a final question. If you could raise first call resolution from 50% to 75%, what would this mean to IT customers and IT as a whole? Clearly, it would take costs out and leave happier customers. Happy customers like things solved the first time. The reason that it takes costs out is because less resources are tied up in escalations to more expensive IT people. Clearly, there are two things that can drive this. First is greater use of problem management to limit repeat incidents and the second is automation so that complex solutions can be replicated by lower cost labor.


One expert, Keith Macbeath, put it to me this way. “Well there is a lot that might be affected, depending on what the calls are about, but those broader impact issues will logically be analyzed higher up the ITIL process chain, at the incident and problem level rather than at the interaction level. Reduction in high severity incidents can reduce the cost to resolve, and by relating to problem, reduction in opportunity cost as well. So FCR per se tends to be considered in terms of pure responsiveness, with a relation to user satisfaction the key issue. Of course if FCR starts to reduce it can be a leading indicator symptom of something worse, related either to volume of calls, decreasing reliability or new problem sets and so on, but that is not an easily quantifiable impact.”


So let’s quickly summarize, first call resolution should be around 75%. Where this is not the case, it creates inefficiency. Therefore, if you want a pure play IT cost reduction, you should raise the first call resolution. Clearly, things like self-service can help and possibly push to even higher numbers. So how are you measuring or improving on this important metric? Please do share.


Related links:

Solution page:  IT Performance Management

Twitter: @MylesSuer

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About the Author


Mr. Suer is a senior manager for IT Performance Management. Prior to this role, Mr. Suer headed IT Performance Management Analytics Product Management including IT Financial Management and Executive Scorecard.

Suresh G P

Hi MylesS


I have seen during my  Customer Engagements have had the same problem of Reduced First Call Resolution Rate. When we did RCA, we found that not only had it to do with Skills and Better Call routing, but also on Performance Metrics for Service Desk Staff and Culture.


We instantiated a CSIP to address those fronts and got a Buy In from the Management to roll it across. The Outcome Measure to validate the result to obtain CSAT feedback every Quarter on the specific metric.


One of the Other Service Desk metric that has been very popular  is the improved usage of Self Service option  and maximum usage of Knowledge Management in resolving Incidents 


Best Regards

Suresh GP

Business Consultant





Hello MylesS and Suresh,


I study engineering and am currently taking a businees applications course. It seems that there are such a wide range of methods for any particular problem, Suresh mentions root cause analysis (RCA), but is this the best?


I'm curious why Suresh selected RCA over Ishikawa diagrams, likert scale questionnaires, or inferential statistics such as linear regression or logistical regression models? I am much more familiar with methods other then RCA.


Feedback is appreciated,



Benjamin Armani

Great Post

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