More Customer Support Metrics: Time Tracking and Ticket Duration

Conventional Wisdom states:

If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

And it is conventional wisdom because it’s true. Just as in a scientific experiment you need to control variables from trial to trial, changing only the one you are interested in, you can’t know if changing a particular practice is going to create a benefit if you don’t know where you started.

We hear a lot about metrics in customer service and support, many of them having to do with agent performance. First call resolution, average speed to answer, average handle time (not recommended as a good metric)…these are all common measurements. But what about that ticket that can’t be closed in one go? How long is it taking to complete that ticket and close it? How much actual person-time is used in working the ticket overall?

This is where tracking time and ticket duration come in. 

Time tracking is measuring how much time, in minutes, hours, days are spent by people actually working on the ticket. It doesn’t include when the ticket just sits in the queue waiting to be resolved. It includes how long it took to enter the ticket, how long it took to do follow up, how long it takes to enter any information into that ticket and how long it takes to close it.

If ticket entry is taking up too much time, find out what is involved in creating the ticket.

  • Maybe the agent must deal with too many applications, switching from one to another to enter all the required information. A single application for all information entry would speed this up. More efficiency comes from the use of templates with drop down menus and pre-populated fields, to limit typing the same thing over and over.
  • Is the issue the time it takes to find information? An up-to-date, searchable knowledge base will go a long ways in addressing this.

Ticket duration can also be thought of as ticket aging. How long has that ticket been open? If it seems the ticket durations are climbing or are high even though there is no issue driving it, you might want to start breaking down the ticket handling process to see where there are bottlenecks.

  • Do the responsible parties receive notification that there is a ticket assigned to them? Does it include the priority of the ticket? Part of the system must include alerting those who need to know so they can get right to work.
  • Do these parties have access to the system or must they rely on someone else entering the information? Giving access to these parties doesn’t necessarily require another software license. Streamline with a system that allows variable access to tickets so that several people can collaborate on one ticket.

Mapping the ticketing process and measuring these periods of time help get the process running smoothly as areas of concern are uncovered. Measure twice, cut once. In other words, measure it first before creating a change that might cause more delays than it prevents.

What do you consider to be an acceptable ticket duration and time for handling? What industry are you in?

Tell us your thoughts and ideas on mapping your process.

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