Taking The Mystery Out of Support Desk Terminology

Every industry contains buzz-words and terminology that explains its processes and procedures – but to outsiders, this terminology may be very confusing!

Use this handy glossary to get the low-down on some common terms you may hear when discussing your support desk needs with an outsource provider.

  • Average Handle Time (AHT): The average time agents take to handle a support call. 
  • Average First Response Time (AFRT): The average time it takes for your agents to make first contact with a customer after receiving a support ticket.
  • Average Speed of Answer (ASA): The average time it takes an agent to answer an incoming call.
  • Backlog: The amount of unresolved support tickets reported during a particular time frame.
  • Business Process Outsourcing (BPO): This refers to contracting a specific business operation to a third-party provider.
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT): An important metric that measures your customers’ overall happiness and loyalty to your company.
  • Decision Tree: A hierarchy of questions and possible answers designed to lead an agent/analyst to a solution.
  • Escalate: To raise a support ticket from a lower level to a higher level of support.
  • First Contact Resolution (FCR): When a support ticket is resolved with a single call.
  • First Contact Resolution Rate (FCRR): This metric shows how often your support team resolves cases in a single response.
  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL): A set of best practices for IT service management.
  • Key Performance Indicator (KPI): A quantifiable value that shows how effectively a company or an individual is meeting key business objectives.
  • Knowledge Base: Comprehensive documentation of everything there is to know about your product or service.
  • Managed Service Provider (MSP):  The company that remotely manages a customer’s IT infrastructure, support desk, or end-user systems.
  • Open Ticket: The status of a support ticket before it’s assigned to an agent.
  • Overdue Ticket: A ticket that has not been resolved during the agreed time according to the Service Level Agreement.
  • Queue:  The list of calls, support tickets, or e-mail messages waiting to be processed.
  • Remote Control and Diagnostic Systems: Technology that allows the service desk to take control of the customer’s computer (keyboard, screen, or mouse) to troubleshoot problems, or provide training by viewing the customer’s screen remotely.
  • Resolution Rate: Percentage of issues your agents actually resolve from the number of total tickets received.
  • Service Desk Goals:  Measurable objectives that support the service desk’s mission.
  • Service Level Agreement (SLA): A service contract defining what’s expected of the service provider. This often includes criteria such as time to answer a customer phone call (“75% of all calls will be answered within 60 seconds or less”), average time to resolve an issue, first call resolution rate, etc.
  • Soft Skills: The “people skills” needed to provide great customer support, such as active listening, excellent verbal communication, ability to problem-solve, personality, etc.  
  • Triage:  Just like in the ER, this is the process of determining the severity and urgency of a problem and routing it to the right person for resolution. 

Now, you’ll be able to talk with confidence about your BPO with an MSP to improve your CSAT! 

Micah Laughlin

Micah Laughlin is the founder of Canvas IT and a leader in technology management services, supporting organizations of all sizes and helping them to thrive in spite of IT challenges and organizational changes. His first-hand experience with Service Desk Outsourcing companies led him to create a better way of doing IT outsourcing, the way he’d want it done. Today his philosophy carries on at Canvas IT as he creates a custom solution for each client just the way they’d want it done. Micah’s service desk management philosophy has supported dozens of growing businesses, adding value to the IT services they provide. Prior to founding Canvas IT, Micah spent more than 24 years managing IT operations – with 18 spent balancing the need for open, flexible systems with the restrictions of the highly-regulated healthcare industry.

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