Digital transformation

Thinking in terms of tickets is so nineties

February 15, 2023 - 3 minutes reading time
Article by Ronald Bodenstaff

'I regularly talk to customers about Service Desk services. In those conversations I am often asked what our motivation is for reducing the number of contacts with the Service Desk. 'After all, paying per ticket is your revenue model, isn't it?'

If you assume the current setup of a Service Desk, this actually touches on two different parts of the service, tickets and contacts. But the number of tickets is different from the number of contacts. A ticket is a unique registration in the service management tool, while a contact is much broader. A contact is any form of communication across different channels with and through the Service Desk. For example, contact through a desk, phone, chat, email or service portal.

The company's IT person

So why this charging model? To give you a good answer to this, it is important that I first explain something to you about how the Service Desk came into being. When IBM presented the first Personal Computer (PC) in 1981 (followed by Toshiba's first laptop), the widespread entry of computers into the business world soon followed. If your PC or laptop did not work, you called the IT person within the company. They were often very technically savvy and spoke in technical - and for the layman incomprehensible - terms.

The translator

When the PC had become indispensable in the 1990s, there was a gap between company employees and the IT department. Those two worlds didn't understand each other very well - so a translator was needed. And that's how the Service Desk was created, with people who were technically savvy and with whom the "normal" employees could easily talk. In other words, someone who could translate layman's language into technology.

'When the PC had become indispensable, there was a gap between the employees and the IT department'

Expectation Management

These initial developments led to a form we also call Calltake & Dispatch. At that time, the need to manage user expectations grew. When will the incident be resolved or the request executed? As computing became more important, that need increased. And so the Service Desk became not only an entry point to ICT, but also a department that provided feedback to the business.

Quality of the Service Desk

At the same time, ITIL made its appearance. After all, you need some form of structure to make computers do what the business expects of them. Starting from the idea of ITIL, the quality of a Service Desk is measured based on several hard values reported from the systems. As I mentioned earlier, the basis of this is the number of contacts and the number of tickets registered. From there, you get insight into such things as average turnaround time, resolution capability, first time right and first contact fix.

'Today's Service Desk is much more than a Calltake & Dispatch'


With the changing business operations of companies with a focus on their own business, ICT services are increasingly being outsourced. This is almost always done based on the criteria mentioned above. In other words, companies outsource a quantity of tickets, with an average turnaround time and the resolution capability they expect, broken down into incidents and standard changes. These are almost always expressed as a price per ticket.

The smart service desk

But what actually goes into the price per ticket? And does it deliver what we expect? Today's Service Desk is much more than a Calltake & Dispatch. Today's Service Desk is accessible through multiple channels and keeps the knowledge base up-to-date. The Service Desk is also using increasingly intelligent monitoring and analytics tools to provide proactive services and to analyze and translate the data these tools provide to impact business operations. This allows the Service Desk to focus prioritization on the IT organization's potential incidents and opportunities.

Prevention is better than …

This form of proactive service, ensures that incidents are prevented as much as possible. Thanks to self-service and these proactive services, the Service Desk is being approached less and less for relatively simple questions. This therefore requires a higher level of knowledge at the Service Desk.

Measuring differently

When a Service Desk properly implements knowledge assurance, proactive service and comprehensive self-service, the number of tickets is reduced. But how do you measure the number of tickets prevented? Measuring and reporting based on tickets is no longer the right method for the demands we place on today's Service Desk. The Service Desk was created to bridge the gap between employees and IT. It is therefore much better to measure whether we are meeting this and to what extent our employees can perform their work without fuss, whereby the continuity of the business is guaranteed.

'Thanks to self-service and proactive services, the Service Desk is approached less for relatively simple questions'

Are the users satisfied?

Traditional reporting on hard numbers, with all the traffic lights on green, is still no guarantee that users perceive the service as positive. And if the traffic lights are on red, users may still be satisfied. Therefore, it is better to measure user satisfaction so that we know the true value of the Service Desk. That way, we can continuously improve the service and make it responsive to users' wants and needs. This does require a culture change within the service organization, where the ICT people understand that a satisfied customer is something else than meeting a KPI such as response or resolution time.

'If the IT department does not innovate and does not adequately maintain the existing landscape, the users suffer'

Higher maturity level

Now we come to the question: what is your motivation to reduce the number of contacts with the Service Desk? The origin of an incident (and thus a ticket) does not lie with the Service Desk, but with the user on one side and ICT on the other. If the ICT department does not innovate and does not maintain the existing landscape adequately, the users suffer. When Service Desk services are billed on a ticket basis, it is in the Service Desk's interest to have as few contacts per ticket as possible. But if, in addition, the rate per ticket is determined based on the time spent per ticket, we won't get anywhere. So do you want to move to a model where the Service Desk is charged a fixed amount per user or workstation, based on the level of customer satisfaction achieved? Then you have to move to a different maturity level as a service organization, and the business and ICT have to work together as a unit.

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