Measuring Your
Real Help Desk ROI:
4 Steps to a Better

Help Desk ROI Involves More
Than You Think

As we all know, IT departments struggle with limited budgets, competing demands from the business and challenges with staffing. As these factors converge, IT departments “shift left” by placing more support on the shoulders of the help desk.

The consequences? An increase in both the volume and complexity of work for the help desk. Naturally, the help desk then asks the business for more people, better processes and improved technology. In turn, the business demands from the help desk the Return on Investment (ROI) to justify their need.

That’s where things get stuck.

Because neither side fully understands all the components of help desk ROI, there ensues a tug of war between the business who wants more for their money and the help desk who needs more help.

The irony? If only the help desk could accurately assess its true ROI, their case would be easily won.



We’ve created this resource so you can accurately determine your help desk’s return on investment – without skipping over any of the important components so many managers miss – allowing you to make the best possible case for your help desk’s needs.

To gain the complete picture of your help desk ROI, you must assess these four categories:




How does this investment contribute to the bottom line of our business? How is this the most effective use of our capital? How does this impact our business financially?



How will this investment increase customer satisfaction? How will this improve overall perception of IT? How will this reduce stress for both our help desk agents and our customers?



How does this investment reduce end-user downtime? How does this increase available capacity? How will this increase efficiency?



How does this investment advance your business goals? Why is this the best use of resources? By doing X, or by not doing X, how can this be done more easily, or be eliminated?

How much you are willing to invest in these four categories and how well you invest in them will drive your returns. In other words, the customer experience you deliver is directly related to what you put into it.

Read on to understand key aspects of help desk ROI so that you make the right decisions with your help desk operations.

step 1 - financial

Step 1

Financial ROI
More Than Just Your Cost Per Ticket

Financial ROI seems like a no brainer: “I invest X amount of money in the help desk and expect Y return over some period.” But how this works out with the help desk normally plays out like this:

“If I make this change, buy this thing or outsource my help desk, our cost per ticket will be X percent less than what it is now, so I will save Y. So, I will infer that the savings obtained is equal to my total ROI.”

Typically, help desk leadership uses this simple model to justify its purchases. As a result, they tend to have a hard time explaining their financial investment in language the rest of the business understands.

Instead, when you show how your help desk relates to the business and its bottom line, and when you prove how your desired changes can increase revenue or margin, you suddenly find yourself with an easier time getting buy-in.

A big part of this is knowing your audience and speaking their language.

grocery store

Let’s illustrate this with something like a grocery chain’s help desk.

The typical grocery store transaction is only $31.92 (, out of which the average margin is only 1.7% or $0.54. With consumers shopping the sales and so much competition between other stores and online, grocery stores take fighting for nickels to the next level.

Now comes the fun part, trying to convert support costs into something the business can understand.

First, you would need to find out the chain’s total number of monthly transactions. If you’re struggling to get those numbers from leadership, here is a formula to give you a very reasonable estimate based on that average transaction amount we explained above.

Sale Per Store Per Month
Avarage Sales Transaction Monthly
Transactions Per Month
Number of Stores
Total Transactions

Let’s assume an 80-store grocery chain has $1,537,748 per month in revenue per store.

Divide that dollar amount by the average transaction value of $31.92 per month to figure out how many transactions there are per month per store.

Multiply the transactions per month by the 80 stores to figure out the total number of monthly transactions.

Now that we know the number of transactions per store, let’s look at some IT support costs and translate the investment we want to make and the ROI into language the business understands—its impact on the overall grocery store transaction cost.

Let’s assume our 80-store chain has a help desk ticket volume of 3,500 tickets per month, and at the start of their “shift left” initiative, the internal help desk resolution rates were around 50%.

However, they have been able to identify some changes to a software tool and some training that would easily drive the resolution rate up to 70%.

support costs

As a quick reminder, one of the largest drivers of support costs is the number of support requests handled by support groups other than the help desk. Therefore, driving support and resolution of issues to the help desk (“shift left”) can provide significant cost savings.

The proposed changes would result in a monthly IT support cost savings of $46,542.

That’s quite compelling. But it’s still not enough to make the case. So, let’s now translate IT costs and this savings into a cost per transaction.

We take our current IT support cost monthly ($144,660) and divide it by the total monthly transactions (3,854,000), to figure out a cost per transaction. (Basically, out of every transaction the grocery chain makes, we want to know how many cents are going toward help desk costs.)

With the help desk only resolving 50% of the tickets, the business cost would work out to the following:

50% Help Desk Resolution

IT Support Costs Monthly
Total Transactions Monthly
÷ 3,854,000
IT Cost Per Transaction Per Month
Or Percent Per Transaction

So, now we know that out of every dollar brought in, $0.0375 goes to help desk support. By increasing the resolution rate to 70%, thereby saving $46,542 per month, the numbers look very different.

50% Help Desk Resolution

IT Support Costs Monthly
Total Transactions Monthly
÷ 3,854,000
IT Cost Per Transaction Per Month
Or Percent Per Transaction

70% Help Desk Resolution

IT Support Costs Monthly
Total Transactions Monthly
÷ 3,854,000
IT Cost Per Transaction Per Month
Or Percent Per Transaction

So, instead of $0.0375 out of every transaction going to the help desk, the proposed changes and training will result in only $0.0254 out of every transaction going to the help desk, a savings of $0.0121 per transaction.

Remember: Margins are thin, so every fraction of a penny counts. In this case, you are actually adding back more than a penny to every transaction with your proposal. And you’re proposing a relatively minor change that will result in an added margin of 0.05% for every transaction. In other words, those savings go right to the business’ bottom line – in this case, giving a nice profit of $558,504 annually back to the business.

Now, your company may not be a grocery chain and your margins may be a little roomier, but the principle still stands: If you can show how your improvement in help desk resolution will contribute directly to the company’s bottom line, you’ve got a much stronger case.

There aren’t many c-suites that will turn down that kind of return in exchange for a few permission changes to facilitate a higher resolution rate.

Always answer these questions about your financial ROI before making any investment:

  • How does this contribute to the bottom line of our business?
  • How is this the most effective use of our capital?
  • How does this impact our business financially?
step 2 - Emotional ROI

Step 2

Emotional ROI: Feelings,
Not Just Finances

A key concept that most businesses don’t grasp is that IT is a service industry, just like hospitality or retail.

The help desk has the greatest impact on the overall satisfaction toward your IT group. Often, users will judge all of IT by whether the help desk is available, responsive, polite and can competently and quickly resolve their issue.

With that in mind, the customer experience should be a priority.

When making decisions about your help desk, keep emotional ROI in mind. Emotional ROI can be tied to analytics, such as customer satisfaction and net promoter scores. These reflect how happy your customers are, and whether they are willing to give you their continued business.

Most companies have some level of satisfaction surveys in place, but they don’t have any processes or programs in place to acknowledge or address the results. Unfortunately, these types of programs are often considered a low priority – this can be shortsighted and lead to a schism between IT and the business, and drive negative perceptions of IT as a whole.

That’s where a Customer Experience Management program comes in.

3 High-Impact Ways to Improve Help Desk Customer Satisfaction




step 2.1 - Measuring Emotional ROI

Step 2.1

Emotional ROI

A Customer Experience Management program allows help desks to capture, measure, and respond to the emotional needs of its customers. This also allows the help desk to quantify the emotional ROI it’s providing to the business.

Remember, if you aren’t responding to customer satisfaction surveys and suggestions, then your customers have no idea if you have even read their feedback, or if you are doing anything about it. If you aren’t doing anything with what they are telling you, then why should they trust you?

People want to know that their voices are heard and that they matter. Taking simple steps to acknowledge your customers’ feedback builds trust, which is a valuable commodity.

Spend a little time reaching out to your customers (who have spent their time giving you feedback) and work with them to make sure their great experiences continue (and that you correct their negative experiences). This will have a lasting impact on how your customers perceive IT.

From a help desk perspective, simple coaching of your agents to “smile when you talk” and using soft skills, such as active listening, improves how your customers feel about their support experience. You can implement these techniques quickly and with little to no cost.

Over time, expand upon these techniques more formally via quality assurance processes, scripting, and enhanced formal training from groups such as GHDSi.

IT Help Desk Staffing: How to Hire Top Talent

Simple steps such as setting proper expectations for service, follow through and follow up, will create significant gains in customer satisfaction and perception.

As you take these steps, you should see an uptick in help desk utilization, as your customers are more willing to report issues and seek your assistance in resolving them. This will lead to more accurate reporting and identification of previously unknown issues that may be impacting your business, which you can then permanently resolve.

4 Ways Technology Leaders Can Improve Their Organization's ROI

As you build on the trust and happiness of your customers, you will find that gaining buy-in on projects and changes gets easier. Your customers will always know you have their best interests in mind, you value them, and you hear their voice.

Always answer these questions about your Emotional ROI before making any investment:

  • How does this contribute to the bottom line of our business?
  • How is this the most effective use of our capital?
  • How does this impact our business financially?
illustration of woman looking at data


step 3 - time

Step 3

Time ROI: Because Today Was
Tomorrow Yesterday

Time is money, as the old saying goes.

On average, it takes three days to resolve tickets that leave the help desk and get escalated to another support group. Contrast this with the mere minutes it takes to resolve tickets that are resolved at the help desk with First Contact Resolution (FCR).

This fact alone should be enough to drive most “shift left” initiatives. But most companies don’t take the time to consider this basic logic:

  • support The better the FCR rate, the more capacity other support teams will have.
  • social care When other support teams have increased capacity, there’s no need for additional head count for upcoming projects, expansions, mergers and roll outs.
  • handshake This capacity savings can be factored into your ROI and business justifications.

grocery store

Let’s take the grocery store example again.

As a reminder, the number of support tickets was 3,500 tickets per month.
The help desk initially resolved 50% of those, or 1,750 tickets. If the help desk gets the funding for their training and software expenditures and subsequently increases their resolution rate to 70%, they would then resolve 2,450 tickets.

That’s an increase of 700 tickets they now resolve in minutes instead of the average of three days it took before.

That’s 700 tickets that other support groups no longer have to attend to. That is a lot of hours per month saved, which means you can either assign the staff in those groups to projects that you have been waiting to start, reassign them to other work you might have been looking to hire new staff for, or you can reduce headcount.

By investing in increasing the help desk resolution rate, you’ve just brought projects off the back burner and/or saved the company a considerable amount of time and money in hiring.

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Here's another example.

A second-level tech group works eight hours per day and spends 75% of the day working on support tickets that average about 15 minutes in length.


4 Tickets/Hour x 8 Hours = 32 Tickets
32 Tickets/Day x 75%
of the Day
= 24 Tickets Per Day
24 Tickets/Day x 20
Working Days Each Month
= 480 Tickets Per Month

If we can shift half of the second-level tech group’s volume to the help desk and give the help desk the tools and training to resolve them, then the second level tech group will reduce their volume from 480 tickets per month to 240 tickets per month.

At four tickets per hour, that’s 60 person hours per month the second-level tech group no longer has to spend on those support tickets. And again, the tickets are now being resolved in minutes instead of an average of three days.

Second Level Tech Group

Average Work Day
Percent of Day Working Support Tickets
Percent of Day
Avarage Time Spend Per Ticket
Available Support Capacity
24 480
Tickets Per Day Tickets Per Month
Problems X, Y, and or/Z
50% 240
Percent of Volume Tickets Per month
If Help Desk Resolved X, Y, and or/Z
Tickets Per Month
Second Level Man Hours Gained in Capacity
60 720
Hours Monthly Hours Monthly

Translated into annual hours saved in the above example, the second-level tech group can recoup as much as 720 person hours a year, just by giving the help desk access to resolve a specific incident type.

That’s a lot of time, and time equals money. By defining the time it takes to resolve issues, and by communicating the increase in capacity that either IT or the business now has for other things, it’s much easier to justify your help desk investments.

Beyond this level of capacity increase, there is a secondary ROI that comes into play: end-user down time.

You can expect anywhere from a 1% to 10% drop in productivity per user per month related to IT problems. If your typical employee makes $48,000 a year, then that 1% to 10% translates to a loss of $40 to $400 per month. By driving resolutions to the help desk to be completed on first contact, you mitigate the amount of end-user downtime, and show added value.

Always answer these questions about your time ROI before making any investment:

  • How does this investment reduce end-user downtime?
  • How does this investment increase available capacity?
  • How will this investment increase efficiency?

IT Help Desk Outsourcing Pricing Models Comparison

step 4 - Effort ROI

Step 4

Effort ROI: Because You Get Out What You Put In

Can your business quantify effort and energy, as well as express the value in doing or not doing something?

If you can, then you can discover some of the hidden costs and gains of your help desk ROI.

In simplest terms, you want to be able to answer the question, “Do we really want to be doing this?” and show the benefits one way or another.

Let’s look at a common scenario:

Talk with many companies about their support needs and plans, and you’ll hear about how they are either planning or implementing self-service capabilities, specifically around password resets.

But most companies achieve only a 30% or higher utilization rate without completely removing the help desk’s ability to reset passwords. (And that carries risk: Taking away password resets from the help desk can result in angry mobs roaming the halls with torches and pitchforks seeking out IT personnel).

Some companies offer users incentives to use a new tool like this, yet that only gets the customers in the system and doesn’t drive utilization.

This is a good example of where effort and energy can be misplaced.

If you calculate the true cost of this type of program, you may discover that the return does not justify the investment. This is because setting up a self-service password management system takes investments in infrastructure, person hours, the system itself, licenses and maintenance. Companies often calculate these costs against the entire client community using the tool.

Plus, you still have the added cost of manually resetting passwords for the other 60% of the client community at the help desk. Not much of an ROI there, especially when you consider all the effort and energy that goes into such an endeavor.

Stepping back to realistically account for the effort and energy to show the best use of resources always delivers an accurate picture of anticipated ROI. This helps you make the right decisions for you and your company.

illustration of a woman look at data


Always answer these questions about your effort ROI before making any investment:

  • How does this effort advance your business goals?
  • Why is this effort the best use of resources?
  • By doing X, or by not doing X, how can this effort be done more easily, or be eliminated?


Your Help Desk ROI is Far More than Just Financial

Step 4.1

Your Help Desk ROI is
Far More than Just Financial

When you justify every investment decision by first calculating the four areas of help desk ROI – finances, emotion, time and effort – you drive support and improve IT in multiple ways.

Ticket Resolution

The number of tickets your help desk resolves increases. First Call Resolution is the key to a successful and effective help desk.

ticket cost
Ticket Cost

Your cost per ticket decreases because Level 1 is the most available and cost-effective way to resolve tickets. This lessens the workload on your more-expensive, higher levels of support.

resolution times
Resolution Times

Your client community gets their problems resolved within minutes instead of the 3-6 days needed if their issues leave the help desk for higher levels of support.


Your client community returns to work sooner, which improves your bottom line.

core business
Core Business

Your Desktop and Tier 3 teams focus on critical and core business systems.

customer satisfaction
Customer Satisfaction

Your employees utilize the help desk with confidence. Your team experiences an increase in customer satisfaction.

it reputation
IT Reputation

IT improves its reputation and brand.


Your company gains capacity within IT that you use to focus on strategic projects.

ROI Calculator


Help Desk Services


The Global Help Desk
Service Inc. Difference

Incorporated in 2001, our help desk is 100% US-based and our agents are exclusively focused on help desk. We utilize IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices across our range of services. The foundation of our success is honesty, integrity, a spirit of excellence, and world-class customer experience.

We have among the highest SLA standards in the industry and consistently deliver by following predictable and repeatable processes. We make first call resolution a priority to return your employees to work more quickly, relieve your Tier 2 and 3 support groups, increase customer satisfaction and the reputation of your entire IT department.

Service Highlights

wrench Guaranteed Service Levels
headphones White Label Service
happy Blended Level 1 and Level 2 Support for Increased Customer Satisfaction
coin Flexible Pricing
telemarketer US Agents 24 x 7 x 365
profits Continuous Improvement Process
quality Quality Assurance Program
messenger Comprehensive Reporting


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