MSP Business Intelligence: 3 Key Metrics for Managing Exceptions

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The most fundamental of all control techniques for successful Managed Service Providers (MSP) is managing exceptions.

With the last month of the quarter in full swing, many business owners and service managers should be focused on executing their strategy. Budgets, expenditures and planning are all underway in the spirit of supporting business plans for the year. In order to execute, you may need to review how you’re managing exceptions.

Perhaps the most fundamental of all control techniques for successful Managed Service Providers (MSP) is managing exceptions. To understand this concept, think of an exception as a crack in your path to success where things get lost and put your organization at risk.

Primarily, the key principle behind this methodology is not only having visibility into important metrics, but rather managing exceptions as they occur. The use of managing exceptions results in two advantages for MSP organizations.

 

First, it means a better use of time. Particularly, managing exceptions saves time by bringing attention only to those situations that appear to need action.

Second, managing exceptions encourages employees to exercise judgment when doing their work. As long as they are within the established guidelines, they can continue working as they see fit.

Therefore, managing exceptions is both a motivational and control technique. While not everyone faces the same exceptions, here are 3 key metrics to get you started on the path to success.

#1 Tickets Missing Data

Have you ever had a ticket missing a phone number or an email address? Do you require all tickets on your helpdesk to have an active agreement? Although you may not be able to require a field in a ticket to be filled out, you can overcome this challenge by leveraging the ConnectSMART SP widget showing you any ticket missing a field that you require. The main advantage of managing this exception is that it displays the tickets that need attention and prevents them from getting lost in the queue.

#2 Orphaned Tickets

The ability to leverage child tickets is also very useful when managing exceptions for orphaned tickets. But be sure to put them into a ‘waiting status’. Otherwise, it can negatively affect your SLA numbers. The best way to overcome this obstacle is to create a status called Child Ticket and make sure it’s marked as ‘Do Not Escalate’. You might be thinking: But what if someone doesn’t put a child ticket into that status or puts a ticket into that status but it doesn’t have a parent ticket? Don’t worry. By using the Orphaned Tickets widget, it automatically prevents this from happening and ensures your SLA metrics are accurate.

#3 Customer Responded

We all know the most important element of great service is great communication. While it can be quite challenging, especially when you have limited time and resources, the quicker you respond or follow up to a customer request, the happier your customer will be. For that reason, it’s important to flag any ticket updated via email or web portal as ‘Customer Responded’. The way this exception works is that the flag only gets cleared when a ticket is opened or manually unchecked. A workflow is triggered to change the status to be “Customer Responded” when it is in the state of last updated by the customer, as long as it is not a child ticket. This makes it super easy to manage.

Another fast way to sort through these Customer Responded tickets is to create a very simple Exception widget, which allows you to drill down into every ticket that was last updated by the customer to follow up with your response.

Pro tip: A sure-fire way to get the whole team motivated is to have a rule that no engineer can leave the office unless that number is set at zero. As soon as the ticket gets electronically updated, the engineer can send an immediate response. This encourages each engineer to manage these responses as they occur versus wading through 20 or 30 tickets before closing time.

Lessons Learned from Successful MSPs

When we first implemented this managing exceptions process as a MSP ourselves, it revealed several critical items you should be aware of as you begin this process in your company.

First, there were many things slipping through the cracks, including a lack of response to child tickets that were never seen, tickets missing information, closed tickets that didn’t re-open, or tickets that were too old. Although they could all be explained, it led to dissatisfaction none-the-less.

Second, as we increased our speed to electronic responses, many customers increased their electronic communication. This immediately shifted 20% of the ticket load from voice calls to electronic responses. In turn, we found customers were calling us less because they could get their answer quickly through email – their preferred method of communication.

While much has been written regarding the business metrics that drive a successful MSP, most of it focuses on individual metrics and neglects a number of critical factors relating to dependencies and the efficiencies of the combined process. When these instances are overlooked, you risk having what you believe to be accurate metric data actually masking problems and giving you a false sense of confidence. A more effective way to avoid these risks is to leverage a business intelligence platform with KPI dashboards from a third-party provider that understands these MSP challenges.

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