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Nancy Louisnord | September 21, 2021

5 Modern Service Desk Incident Management KPIs

Key performance indicators, or KPIs, can vary between service desk teams and businesses. Help desk KPIs typically take into account several factors to help leaders pinpoint areas of success as well as areas for improvement while recognizing ROI from the service management solution. But these KPIs can be paired down further to provide insights on specific functions within the service desk. For instance, you can take a look at a few KPIs to understand the successes and failures of your incident management process.

The Benefits and Value of Incident Management KPIs and ITSM Analytics

Incident management is arguably one of the most important functions at the service desk, and the majority of service desk leaders are aware of that. In fact, according to the 2021 State of Service Management Survey conducted by ITSM.tools, most respondents (84%) across organizations of all sizes, understand the adverse impact their service issues and failures have on business operations. However, those who work in organizations on either of the far ends of the spectrum of business size (small and large) are least likely to understand the business impact of their team’s service issues and failures.

Delivering seamless and effective incident management can improve the experience of the service desk customers, which trickles down into a positive experience for the external business customer. Taking a realistic look into your incident management process and performance from start to finish can also help you identify areas to optimize costs and increase efficiency. It also helps provide insights into the maintenance and prevention of greater problems, ultimately reducing overall downtime.

Incident management KPIs can also help your team shift to a more agile mindset as you gain the ability to change plans and roll out new changes quickly and easily. But, to make that a reality, it takes a thorough look at your incident management processes.

ITSM KPIs for Incident Management

The following five incident management KPIs can help your team streamline efficiency to recognize some of the benefits mentioned earlier, including a reduction of cost by an average of 50%, and an increase in efficiency by an average of 30% (based on the experiences of EasyVista customers).

1. Reopen Rate

We know that we should track tickets opened and tickets closed, But are tickets being closed and reopened within a small window of time? This is important to track because it may indicate an area where more guidance is needed.

The reopen rate (RR) represents the percentage of tickets previously marked as resolved which have been reopened at a customer’s request. This can either happen due to a customer replying to a previously closed ticket response or requesting that the same ticket be reopened due to the same issue happening within a short time span. This is slightly different from first contact resolution (FCR) because it takes a look at the flip-side of that metric.

You should look at this number at two levels: that of the individual agent and then the organization as a whole. Further you should take into account the following positive and negative factors:

  • The initial response and resolution of the ticket
  • Possible agent responses that contributed to reopening a ticket vs. creating a new ticket or learning self-resolution 

After you’ve taken these factors into account, you can use a simple formula to calculate your RR.

Formula: RR% = (Reopened Tickets / Total Tickets Solved) x 100 

If this number is high, you may need to consider implementing training for either agents or customers (or sometimes both), or perhaps implementing a knowledge management database to educate customers on how to resolve some of the recurrent issues.

2. Incident Response Time

Incident response time is crucial in improving productivity and reducing unplanned downtime due to system outages. This is different from a similar metric that is often incorrectly included as incident response time, which is called “mean time to repair (MTTR)”. Incident response time simply takes into account how long it takes an agent and a department, on average, to respond to a new or reopened ticket.

You’ll need to take into account a few factors to understand the average incident response time. These include:  

  • Average handle time at both an agent level and an organization level
  • Incident volume and type by department
  • How many of these incidents are considered critical and how many are considered low priority 

The formula to find your average incident response time is as follows.  

Incident response time (in minutes, hours, and days) = Sum of all first response times / number of resolved tickets

This is not a comprehensive look at the amount of time it takes to resolve a ticket, just the amount of time it took an agent to work the ticket. Remember, you’ll have to consider how many of these tickets are low vs. high priority.

3. Total Cost Per Contact

The total cost per contact is crucial when you’re trying to shift your mindset to build on a better IT-business relationship while optimizing costs. Unfortunately, this metric is one of the most misunderstood and miscalculated metrics when it comes to incident management because it often fails to take into account some of the less obvious factors and often focuses only on the cost per ticket, not necessarily accounting for the times an agent resolved an issue without creating a formal ticket.

When you calculate the total cost per contact or incident, you should account for:

  • Support staff costs, like salaries, medical benefits, and company incentives
  • The cost of the IT service management tool through which the ticket was logged and worked on
  • The cost of any self-service portals and tools
  • The volume of calls, emails, and support tickets

Then, you can calculate the total cost per contact with this formula: 

CPC = Total operating costs / Total number of calls, emails, support tickets, and other means of contact

This calculation can give a greater view of the ROI of the tools being used and ways to optimize these costs with self-service initiatives. Additionally, you can compare this figure to the number of users who resolve their tickets via self-service, as well as the total cost per ticket to understand where the majority of time is being spent on non-ticket related contacts.

4. Level 0 Success and Failure Rates

If you’re looking to optimize costs at the service desk, self-service is a no-brainer. But, just because you have your self-service portal in use doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be seeing immediate ROI. You’ll need to track the utilization or adoption of the self-service portal, which can be done through the measurement of Level 0 success and Level 0 failure rates, sometimes called Level 0 Solvable (LZS).

Your level 0 success and failure rates should include the utilization of automation, use of self-service portals, dwell time, click counts, and knowledge article access metrics. You can also gain additional insight to these metrics using feedback portals.

These numbers will effectively tell you how many Level-0 tickets were deflected as a result of self-service adoption and utilization, as well as how many users attempted to resolve their own problem but ultimately failed and required the help of an agent. This will help you identify areas of concern to refine knowledge or procedures.

The formula for these figures is less straightforward than other metrics. You can read a detailed breakdown to help you calculate these numbers here.

5. Incidents Related to Problems

The final piece of the incident management puzzle comes from understanding the relationship between current incidents and problems and how those may impact both the end user and the service desk team.

Incident management and problem management are two separate functions, but incidents can link together to become a problem. The simplest way to track this metric is to track the rate of incidents related to problems within your ITSM solution and looking for trends. You can also look at which departments are linked to higher rates of problems and incidents to understand where the roots of these problems lie in order to address them.


Incident management KPIs can help you get a better view of your service management strategy. It should be fairly simple to create reports within your ITSM solution, and if it isn’t you may want to consider changing your IT service management vendor. To see how EasyVista stacks up against competitors, download the 2021 Gartner Critical Capabilities Report here.  

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Nancy Louisnord

Nancy Louisnord is the Chief Marketing Officer of EasyVista, responsible for the company’s global and regional marketing programs and product marketing strategy. She has more than 14 years of global leadership experience in the ITSM software industry, bringing numerous software companies into new markets. She is a sought-after presenter at conferences and contributor to several leading industry publications. Before joining EasyVista, Louisnord served in leadership roles with TOPdesk and Daffodil Consulting. In addition to her expansive experience in the B2B software industry, she has a proven record of creating and executing digital marketing strategies and improving the customer service experience.