Service Desk KPI: Defining IT Agent Performance

Emiliano Pardo Saguier November 24, 2021
- 5 min read


A key performance indicator, or KPI, is a metric (of your designation) that will help you determine whether your help desk is working correctly or if it could use a tune-up. KPIs are important because they allow you to establish and track metrics that make a real-world impact for both the customer and help desk agents.  

Why Do These Metrics Matter for Customer Support? 

Think of help desk KPIs as health indicators for your business. First, they will give you an in-depth look into what your customers’ opinions about your products and services. You'll also know whether help is arriving on time and making an actual difference. 

These metrics can help you get a clear sense of whether your service desk processes are in need of urgent adjustments. We know the difference good customer support makes to overall engagement and customer retention rates, and that a help desk that’s not working the way it should be could be costing you more than you know. 

For instance, one of the most commonly used KPIs is customer retention rate. Considering how much more costly it is to make new customers than keep existing ones, you should definitely be taking notice. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves — we’ll be sharing some of the most important KPIs below. 

What’s the Difference Between a Help Desk KPI and a Service Desk Benchmark? 

In one of our previous articles, we spoke in detail about service desk benchmarks. Now, benchmarks and KPIs may seem very similar, but there's actually a subtle difference. While they frequently overlap, they often have different purposes. 

In short, a benchmark is when you compare a process or performance with other companies or entities. As a result, we could try to view benchmarks as a standard to meet, beat, or improve upon — a reference point. 

Benchmarks can be: 

  • Internal: Comparing systems or processes with others within the same company. 
  • Competitive: looking to competitors for inspiration. The other upside is that this will allow you to understand your competitors better.
  • Generic: identifying great work processes that aren’t necessarily in the same industry or job function.
  • Functional: comparing processes with similar ones outside your industry. Say, you may look up to the bookkeeping of an educational institution and feel that there’s value to be had in following their system. 

On the other hand, help desk KPIs are about comparing performance to a company’s own strategic goals. Thus, service desk metrics can let you know whether you’re meeting, exceeding, or falling short of your ITSM performance thresholds. 

Something to note, then, is that KPIs and benchmarks are synergistic. Benchmarks can help you establish KPIs by understanding and setting desirable outcomes and targets for specific processes. Once those targets are established, it’s time to get to work and find out whether you’re hitting or missing the mark. 

But what are the KPIs that matter most in the end? What are the ones that you should absolutely be keeping your eye on? Take a look at our list below.

Help desk KPIs

Help Desk Performance Indicators to Keep Your Eye On 

This is by no means a definitive list -- as we've discussed, each company will likely have its own particular needs. But, if you’re not keeping a close eye on these, then it’s very likely your company is falling short in terms of service. In the world of customer support, these metrics reign supreme. 

Average Resolution Time 

The time it takes your agents to solve issues is paramount. According to Jay Lee of uAcademy: 

“Customer satisfaction strongly correlates with the resolution rate, and a study by SQM Group found that each exchange in a ticket resolution process drops the user satisfaction by 15%. Everyone knows that no ticket should be unresolved, but it’s easy to forget that a TIMELY response is essential for user satisfaction.

Resolution rate can be tracked by monitoring the number of tickets resolved in the first instance, the number of exchanges on a ticket, and the number of tickets reopened.”


First-Contact Response Time

When running a tight help desk, you want to make sure that most queries are resolved on the first go-around. This metric tracks whether users can reliably walk away from the screen knowing that their issue has been dealt with on first contact and that they don’t have to engage in time-consuming games of back-and-forth with your customer experience staff.

Thus, knowing whether a query is solvable within the first few minutes, or if it needs to be sent to another department is vital. This is also where keeping your agents well-trained is the ITSM world’s version of “Dress to impress.” First impressions matter for a reason. 

Customer Satisfaction

To some, this is the most important KPI out of the bunch. Keeping a close watch on the satisfaction rate of your users is something you definitely want to do, and surveys are a great way to accomplish it. 

User feedback scores are another way to measure client satisfaction. True, no one likes those lengthy surveys at the end of a call. But, if your team really is great at providing support, we’ll bet you your clients will complete those without much hassle. 

Customer Retention Rate 

Of course, when it comes to IT organizations supporting their own workforce, they won't exactly lose customers in the traditional sense. But you also want to avoid users disengaging from the help desk, attempting to take matters into their own hands, or finding alternative solutions that will only make things harder for your organization in the long run. Customers should feel confident that the service desk is there to help them out and won't just leave them out to dry.

Final Thoughts

Keeping clients happy, engaged, and ultimately satisfied is part of the mission statement of any good business. But success is not made solely out of good intentions; it’s pursued, built, and improved upon with solid practices and processes. 

And these practices and processes aren’t static either; they should be constantly evaluated, assessed, and overhauled according to the KPIs derived from your benchmarks. 


If you keep tabs on your KPIs, then you’ll essentially keep your finger on your business’ pulse and your eye on the prize. And choosing the right service desk tool goes a long way towards ensuring you stay at the top of your game. 

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