British management consultant John Seddon emphasizes the centrality of understanding “Failure Demand” for services organizations. Failure Demand is when Service Requests or Incidents (or perhaps other processes) are repeated due to the fact that they weren’t done right the first time.
For example, a user calls in a request for Microsoft Excel to be installed, which is done. The user then has to call back however because the Excel PowerPack extensions were not installed, which the user requires to do their job.
Or the user calls in an incident but then is ill for a couple of days, and unable to respond to Service Desk queries. Because the Service Desk is incented on closing tickets quickly, the user’s incident is closed out and they must re-open the ticket when they come back into work.
A simple design pattern for addressing this: instead of reporting only on the Service Request and/or Incident ticket closure durations, also report the average and peak #s of tickets called in by each user. Slightly more formally, frame a query thus:
For each user calling in at least one Incident or Service request, how many called in more than one within a four week period?
Recurring incidents or service requests for particular users is a clear and relatively tamper-proof means of identifying failure demand. Certainly, complaint-prone users, or new employees with multiple needs, also show up in these metrics, but they would still be useful.
Thoughts? Anyone doing this?
further thoughts: This of course seems similiar to the well understood concept of First Call Resolution. But scanning some references, I'm concerned exactly *how* FCR is asserted... is it too prone to self serving interpretation by Help Desk analysts? Similarly, % of tickets re-opened is sometimes tracked, but that assumes that the help desk allows/encourages re-opening of tickets - some don't, in my experience. One study of typical help desk metrics.
8/4/2011 Even more - after I wrote this, I then encountered this HBR article, counterintuitively titled "Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers." Don't let the title turn you off, it's all about the issues here.