First Time Fix (FTF) is a great service management metric, as it's the one that indicates the most gain in customer satisfaction if improved upon by a Service Desk.
First it's worth defining and also worth pointing out how it differs from its close cousins, First Line Fix (FLF) and Service Desk Resolution (SDR):
All 3 metrics require each support ticket to be logged and resolved by the 1st Line Service Desk. But, as indicated in the table:
SDR doesn't require the ticket to have been handled only by 1st Line – indeed, the ticket may have done the rounds through multiple resolver groups before finally being resolved by 1st Line. It also doesn't require any prompt resolution of the ticket;
FLF is a measure of tickets which have only been handled by 1st Line, but, like SDR, not necessarily with any prompt resolution;
FTF does require the ticket handling to be self-contained within 1st Line and needs to have been resolved in one single motion without break or delay.
It's easy to understand why FTF, if improved upon by a 1st Line Service Desk function, is the metric which relates most to customer satisfaction – It's the one that measures when end-users get what they need at the time of asking for it.
To be clear, a ticket that is resolved in 'one single motion without break or delay' will typically have to adhere to all of the following criteria:
- Be logged and resolved without the need to save, close and later re-open the ticket
- Be resolved by the analyst from his/her desk position
- Be resolved without seeking assistance from another colleague
- Be resolved quickly
Although this sounds like a lot to adhere to, most good service management tools can mark a resolved ticket at 'FTF' if logged and resolved without first being saved. This will provide a reasonable basis upon which to report FTF, if coupled with team processes which are geared to support FTF resolution.
In simple terms, in order to improve the FTF rate of a 1st Line Service Desk function, the team needs to do as much as it can, on its own, and promptly.
Improving your FTF rate, and thereby improving the service to your customers, can usually be achieved to 2 phases:
- Tool Up and Up Skill – A Service Desk will need a number of tools in order to able to resolve the maximum number of tickets from their desk position. Naturally, this will include the Service Management tool, used from handling all incidents and requests, but will also include a means of remotely controlling a user's workstation, and the administrative tools (and related permissions) to perform all appropriate administrative duties. To 'up skill' means to furnish support analysts with what they need to know to work more efficiently. This could include formal training but is more likely accomplished by the provision of internal technical workshops and the creation of knowledge base articles which are quickly available to an analyst when needed.
- Continual Drive – Once the Service Desk is working in a manner that supports the concept of FTF, then a plan may be developed to continually increase the volume of tickets resolved in this way. Through measurement and analysis, a pecking order of ticket types can be developed which, if addressed one by one and geared up to be resolved under FTF conditions, will bring the resolution of more support activities right to the front of the service.
As already stated, FTF is an indicator of customer satisfaction and so to increase your FTF rate will benefit the organisation in a very noticeable way. But FTF could also work for you in 2 additional ways:
If more is being completed by 1st Line support analysts, then it's likely that the volume of 2nd Line Desk-side support visits will reduce. As the volume of tickets that can be resolved by a 1st Line will be higher than those of 2nd Line, then you may well be able to cut 2nd Line head count whilst delivering a better service.
In some environments, usually at bigger firms, there may be support activities performed by 3rd Line resolver groups, which with the right training, tools and permissions, may be activities that can be brought forward in the support process to 1st Line. These might include administrative tasks for line-of-business applications which are only completed by the 3rd Line team because no one has ever questioned if it can be done by someone else. The possible cost saving comes by moving support activities like this from 3rd Line system specialists to less expensive 1st Line analysts.
An objection to providing higher FTF might be that the culture of the firm is such that it likes to receive its support via desk-side visits. In truth, no user actually cares how they receive their support, as long as they get what they need, when they need it. The call for desk-side support, I think, is a natural response made by people if they think their level of support will wane if a greater emphasis is placed on 1st Line Support. The answer to this objection is to ensure that your 1st Line service is delivered well and which provides better response times than if sending an analyst to the user.
The plan to improve your FTF rate is best managed as part of a broader Continual Service Improvement Plan as it will take some time and will need to be factored alongside your other service management developments, but is certainly a high-gain activity worth pursuing.