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Helpdesk meltdown due to absenteeism, low morale and increased workload

Remote working has put a strain on the helpdesk, and there is a backlog of unresolved tickets that is taking days to clear

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to helpdesk absenteeism more than doubling, according to an analysis using MetricNet data from 2020 with more than 400 Global 2000 companies.

The analysis from DeepCoding, which specialises in IT service management (ITSM) delivery optimisation, found that remote working has led to an increase of 35% in monthly helpdesk ticket volumes.

Employees working from home have required more support because of connectivity issues, virtual private network (VPN) problems and a decline in user training sessions.

According to DeepCoding’s analysis, the cost of a support ticket has risen from $20.44 to $26.51. Helpdesk technicals increased the time taken to handle a helpdesk ticket from 7.37 minutes to almost 10 minutes per call (9.54 minutes), an increase of 30%. But customer satisfaction decreased from 83.3% before the pandemic to 74.7%.

Job satisfaction among helpdesk staff also fell, from 76.8% to 67.11%. The mean time to resolve (MTTR), a measure of how long it takes for a helpdesk ticket to be fixed, rose during the pandemic from 6.18 hours to 9.72, while the extent of the backlog of unresolved tickets rose from 7.2 days to 12.1, according to DeepCoding.

DeepCoding also reported that technician absenteeism has doubled during the pandemic as IT employees have been forced to deal with family responsibilities such as home schooling, or have been struck by illness.

DeepCoding said the pandemic has presented the industry with a harsh wake-up call at a time when global companies are demanding that their IT teams reduce ticket volumes, improve resolution times and produce dramatic improvements to the customer experience – all while reducing costs. 

Its analysis points to an inability of ITSM teams to scale and maintain quality. This issue has been exacerbated by technician absenteeism, budget cuts and lack of new investment to confront the corresponding explosion in demand. These conditions have caused customer satisfaction levels to plummet, said DeepCoding.

“Our analysis indicates that the Covid pandemic has been detrimental to the ITSM sector, which has witnessed a significant rise in costs and a corresponding decline in the quality of service,” said Sebastien Adjiman, founder and chief executive of DeepCoding. “In this climate, corporates cannot afford to deploy the ostrich technique. This is a business-critical issue and one where a swift and cost-effective solution is required to improve standards and scalability while reducing cost per ticket.”

The company suggested that the effective deployment of artificial intelligence could enable organisations to reduce ticket volumes, cost and resolution times, while simultaneously improving the customer experience.

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