Recently, an HDI member used our Ask Your Network community on HDIConnect to ask a few simple questions regarding contact volume. The questions were, roughly:
- What is your total user base?
- What is your annual contact volume?
- How many people are in your support center?
- What industry are you in?
The range of answers can give you some insight into why the answer to your questions is often, “It depends.”
Given just the bare information from the responses—and please note that this is a tiny sample and is presented here for example purposes only—I did a little math and came up with the following:
Notice the many disparities: Support staff size relative to user base, the number of contacts per user per year, and the number of tickets per analyst per year. Why? “It depends.”
What do we know about a legal services firm? Lawyers bill per hour. That hourly rate likely includes money for the support they get from other staff, such as secretarial, and also IT support. Notice also that their tickets per user count is the highest of this small sample. When they need any assistance, they are contacting support—and probably right away. In a legal firm, time really is money.
What do we know about an engineering firm? Engineers work on complex systems and in proprietary professional software. Their ticket count per user is the second highest, but their ticket count per analyst is the second lowest. Complexity takes time.
Interestingly, the IT Services firm has the highest ticket count per analyst, nearly nine times more than analysts at the nonprofit. We might infer that most of the tickets are “one-and-done” type resolutions, but we can’t say for sure.
The stats on users per analyst clearly show why ratios don’t work as a method of determining staffing levels, especially when we cross verticals. There simply isn’t a good way to make ratios work consistently for staffing.
Ratios don’t work as a method of determining staffing levels.
What feeds the differences? Many things, including:
- Complexity of the environment (hardware, software, systems)
- The scope of support offered
- The industry
- Size of the organization
When we formulate our industry surveys, we try to walk the fine line between taking up a great deal of your time with lots of detailed questions that give us increased insight and getting you through the survey with less impact on your time, while still gathering valuable data to share. Thank you for your participation in our industry research—you provide a great deal of value to your peers.
Join the conversation with your peers at HDIConnect.
Roy Atkinson is one of the top influencers in the service and support industry. His blogs, presentations, research reports, white papers, keynotes, and webinars have gained him an international reputation. In his role as senior writer/analyst, he acts as HDI's in-house subject matter expert, bringing his years of experience to the community. He holds a master’s certificate in advanced management strategy from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, and he is a certified HDI Support Center Manager. Follow him on Twitter @RoyAtkinson.