7 Best Practices for Helpdesk Reporting
A good report highlights data trends and communicates important information that keeps the wheels of your customer service or support department running smoothly.
A less-than-perfect report, on the other hand, conceals important ideas, overwhelms the readers with convoluted information, and will probably end up as a paperweight on your desk within a few hours of printing.
Here’s how to make sure your reports always fall into the first category. To help you avoid a desk overflowing with reports that you can’t use, here are seven best practices you can adopt for optimizing your helpdesk reports.
1. Exclude the Outliers
When you get your hands on data for the first time, you may be tempted to pivot with each report and try to incorporate every scrap of feedback that you can.
After all, if you get a report that indicates a problem, it’s something you need to solve immediately, right?
Not quite. Datasets, especially larger datasets, are prone to outliers. Outliers are data points that far exceed the normal distribution1 of the set, either as extremely high or low values. In the below example, both orange dots—employee #2 and employee #19—are outliers.
Outliers that appear consistently over a long period of time can indicate a problem, but if they’re new events, you should investigate the circumstances behind them before forming a plan of action to fix things.
Remember, there are humans involved on both sides of the equation, and humans are unpredictable.
Events that are unlikely to repeat themselves, such as multiple managers being off-site, are outliers. Isolate tickets that arise from outlier events from your reports as points of concern, but hold off on acting on them until you understand the situation behind them.
2. Focus on the Metrics Relevant to Your Goals
This is another potential pitfall with having access to a wealth of rich data. Not all of the data you have will be relevant to your business at a given time and trying to manage it all detracts from achieving your department’s goals.
For instance, is one of your goals to cut down on ticket resolution time for high priority tickets? If so, looking at the same data for low or medium priority tickets isn’t relevant to that goal.
Keep your eye on the prize, so to speak.
As a good rule of thumb, if you can’t immediately identify how a performance indicator can be translated into action, it’s not significant to your current goals. But that doesn’t mean the data can’t be useful later. If it’s not pertinent to your mission, it should be kept to the periphery and not in the reports you generate.
3. Share Your Metrics and Encourage Transparency
If you want your agents to go above and beyond, they need the ability—and your trust—to claim ownership of the service they provide.
T-Mobile excels at enabling their employees to do this, and it’s the guiding precept behind their newest model2 of customer service, ‘Un-carrier.’
Rather than limiting their agents to the standard guidelines of customer service, T-Mobile empowers their employees as experts. “Instead of investing in avoiding customers, we are investing in serving customers,” says Mike Sievert, president of the telecommunications company.
Encourage your agents to take ownership of the customer experience by giving them everything they need to thrive, including emotional support, healthy work-life balance, and open communication about the goals of the department and team.
This means, among other things, not hoarding your reports from your agents. Give them the information they need to be actionable, and perhaps even encourage a little healthy competition factor by showing them the benchmarks for your top agents.
Consider incorporating a little gamification into the process. Not only does gamification break up the monotony of the day, it may even be the key to successfully transforming operations practices.
4. Highlight What’s Actionable to High-level Executives
While your agents should have a transparent culture of communication, your executive, cross-departmental colleagues don’t need the nitty-gritty details. When you’re going over reports with other executives, focus on what’s imperative to the business at large.
After all, what one metric means for you is vastly different from what it means to other departments. Sure, you understand and appreciate all of the moving parts that go into your CSAT score, but do your colleagues? And more importantly, do they need to?
Just like your own reports shouldn’t be overwhelming with unimportant metrics, the reports you compile for your top-level executives should be brief and to the point.
Data that drives a point home does its job well: data that gets everyone lost in the weeds, on the other hand, is best left off.
Fortunately, there’s a simple method to translate complex data into decipherable information that’s easy for others to understand.
5. Incorporate Data Visualization
Data looks both overwhelming and monstrous when you’re staring down at the numbers themselves. For most people, they don’t need to see the fractional differences between trends, they just need to understand the trend direction and its strength overall.
That’s where data visualization comes in. The art of good data visualization is a tricky balance between design, storytelling, shareability, and, of course, accurate data.
Fortunately, it’s not an art you have to master if you have the right help desk ticketing software. A good helpdesk suite distills the tangle of your data into its purest, simplest form without simplifying it to the point of deceiving the person looking at it.
6. Don’t Skip the Qualitative Data
Helpdesk reporting spits numbers, and numbers are beautiful—they’re reliable, quantitative, and allow you to highlight statistically significant trends. But they’re also incomplete without context and ‘softer’ data points like sentiment analysis.
Customer experience isn’t limited to the time it takes to resolve a ticket or average first response time: it’s about the whole interaction with your brand. You need to understand how customers feel as part of their customer journey.
After all, what are customers more likely to remember: that their ticket was resolved in 7.2 hours or that the agent who resolved their ticket was friendly, patient, and went above and beyond?
Both are important metrics, even if only one can be quantified.
7. Set a manageable reporting schedule
How many emails do you have to contend with every morning? Probably more than you want.
They’re not going to lighten up anytime soon, either. By 2019, the daily number of emails is expected to climb up to 246 billion3.
So, unless your business makes use of your helpdesk daily reports, it’s not necessary to pull them every day. And because of factors like outliers, viewing your reports daily may actually impede your progress rather than optimize it.
Generating reports once a week is probably a good start. You get real-time results and the ability to pivot on them quickly, but you don’t spend your day trying to tease out trends that may not actually be relevant in the long run.
You can schedule reports on a recurring basis with the Garden-level plan or any other plan above that on Freshdesk. If you’re using a different helpdesk, try to configure your regular reports on a schedule that’s both actionable and manageable.
Helpdesks transform your customer service department from a run-of-the-mill operation to a data-crunching and analytical powerhouse. However, managing that level of data isn’t for the faint of heart, especially when it’s time to pull your reports.
Isolate outliers from your reports as objects of interest without acting on them immediately. When your metrics report on human behavior, you have to consider out-of-the-ordinary events in context. And when you do look at metrics, focus on those that matter to your specific goals.
Finally, incorporate qualitative data like sentiment analysis in your reports for a stronger picture of the customer experience, and set a manageable reporting schedule.