Help Desk Institute Releases 2003 Practices Survey

Annual Study Identifies Underlying Trends in Support Industry
Help Desk Institute (HDI) today released the findings of the HDI 2003 Practices Survey. The study, designed to provide high-level guidance to support center managers, identifies performance, technology, and service trends for support center operations. Its comprehensive data covers demographics; support center performance, tools and technologies; service level agreements; outsourcing; resolution, response and cost statistics and measurement; and many other issues.
Overall the report’s findings indicate that support centers are feeling an impact on technology acquisition, employment and outsourcing, generated in part from cost reduction and the growing implementation of self-service technology. At the same time, the median cost per incident is trending downward. It is clear that the industry is maturing and becoming more strategic, as more support centers are providing performance statistics, taking a lead in new customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives, and focusing on certification of individuals and customer support soft skills. Even the use of the term “help desk” is declining, replaced by a variety of terms with “service” and/or “support.”
Key findings include:
* Full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) dropped from 12 FTEs to 10 FTEs, and the average number dropped from 39.5 FTEs to 36 FTEs over the last year
* More organizations are outsourcing some or all of their support centers
* Growth in implementation of new support technologies seems to be slowing
* Growth areas in technology have to do with empowering the customer, e.g., direct customer review of their request, customer access to FAQs and intranets, and web-based knowledge-base/search tools
* 45% of support centers have service level agreements (SLAs) with all or a portion of their customer base
* 24% have SLAs with vendors
* The majority of internal customer support centers charge for support on a fixed base, with 38% burying the cost in an overall IT allocation. 17.2% charge on usage (up from 10% in 2002)
* The growth rate of incident/problem volume has slowed
* The median cost per incident is trending downward, with phone support at $23 from $25 in 2002, and email support at $15 from $16 last year. The median cost for self-service support transactions remained the same at
* The median call abandon rate is 4%, and 56% of calls are answered within 20 seconds (57% in 2002)
* The resolution rate for self-help is 3.5%, Level 1 help at 56.6% and, the remainder being referred to other resources for resolution
* The top five most used vendor problem tracking systems (by number of sites) are (in order):
* Remedy ARS
* FrontRange Solutions’ HEAT
* Peregrine Service Center
* Network Associates Magic TSD
* Tivoli Service Desk