When managed services providers (MSPs) are looking for ways to improve business growth and increase customer satisfaction, time to completion (TTC) is a common metric that can help move the needle on both.
Increasing efficiencies and resolving issues faster reduces cost and therefore can help increase profit; it also means you can handle a greater volume of incidents with fewer employees, which further reduces costs. On top of this, resolving client issues quickly creates high customer satisfaction, builds loyalty among your client base, and increases lifetime value (LTV) of a customer—another key metric in any service-based business.
To calculate TTC, let’s define a starting point and an ending point. Theoretically, the start would be the instant you find out your client has a request, or a monitoring incident occurs. Unfortunately, this cannot be captured reliably, so let’s start at the point a help desk ticket is created. The ending point would then be when the issue or incident is resolved, which can be captured with the closing of the ticket. (If you’re not using a ticketing system to track requests and incidents, you will find it difficult to maintain accurate data collection for tracking TTC.)
Here are seven actions you can take to help ensure your customers’ issues move from ticket to resolution as quickly as possible:
The first step in the journey of any customer incident is the creation of a ticket. Your customers should be able to do this quickly and easily by email, web form, or phone—some progressive systems are accepting tickets via social media channels like Twitter as well. However, customers are not your only source of tickets; monitoring alerts should automatically create tickets as well. This means your RMM tool should be able to communicate with your ticketing system to automatically create the appropriate tickets. During the ticket creation process, you should collect as much data on the issue as possible—this helps reduce research and communication with the end user to gather all the necessary information required to begin working on the ticket.
If the ticket is created by a user (rather than a monitoring alert), it is extremely important they receive a confirmation email as quickly as possible. Even if it is an automated response, the reply closes a mental loop for the end user and confirms you have received their request. This reply should include how they can check up on their ticket without sending an email or calling you. This way, you spend less time communicating with the user and more time working on their problem.
Anything you can do to reduce back-and-forth emails is also a big help. In the beginning, this is about making sure you have all the information before starting to work on the ticket. As you begin working on the ticket, it is about how you communicate with the customer. Simple questions are fine for email, but if you have more complex questions, it is always better to call or use an interactive chat session. You will navigate complex questions much faster like this than via email.
Once you are working on a ticket, research and diagnostic skills are your best friends. The good news here is these are learned skills, which means anyone can learn how to research and diagnose problems faster. Having the right resources on hand is just as important. No one knows your customers better or has more history with them than you. This knowledge should be captured in a system like a knowledge base or wiki that is easy for all your technicians to search. Issues can be searched quickly as a result, and resolutions provided at a much faster rate. Likewise, diagnostics requires the right tools. The right monitoring tools provide insight into devices, networks, and cloud services—that can dramatically increase the time to resolution.
Some resolutions require multiple steps. In many cases, these steps can be scripted or otherwise automated for quicker deployment. Some RMM tools allow for this type of automation. In addition, tickets created by monitoring alerts can sometimes be remediated automatically by setting up the right automation within your RMM tool. Just make sure your RMM tool also closes tickets automatically when the problem is resolved.
One of the biggest problems with TTC is getting customers to verify their issue is properly resolved. Once again, this can be hastened by a phone call rather than an email. It also allows the technician to tie up any loose ends right then and there for the user.
Perhaps the most important step comes after the ticket is closed, and that is to create a new knowledge base article, or update an existing one, when necessary to include any new information learned by resolving this ticket. Making sure your techs are always armed with the most up-to-date information can remove hours, sometime even days, from the process when trying to resolve the next incident of the same problem.
TTC is a vital performance indicator because it speaks not only to the efficiency of your technicians and your process, but it is also a key indicator for customer satisfaction. Good TTC generates higher profits and greater return per customer because they stay with you longer. So it’s worth ensuring you do everything you can to make the process as smooth as possible.
Eric Anthony is principal of customer experience at SolarWinds MSP. Before joining SolarWinds, Eric ran his own managed service provider business for over six years.
You can follow Eric on Twitter at @EricAnthonyMSP
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