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Standardize the Service Desk of Managed Service Providers

Build a value-driven, efficient, and profitable service desk.

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Do you experience any of these challenges:

  • Not able to meet customer demands and deliver on agreed metrics or KPIs.
  • Lack of, or inefficient, documentation, processes, and policies.
  • Lack of collected data for ticketing system/ticket notes.
  • Lack of coherent communication and delays in response time.
  • Lack of scalability to meet the increased demand.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • For MSPs, the standardized service desk provides an opportunity to become a trusted partner in IT.
  • Add value to clients by transforming your help desk into a service desk.
  • Continuously focus on people, processes, and technology improvement.
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) and service level agreements (SLAs) are vital.
  • Price your service desk offering based on the value.

Impact and Result

  • Increase profitability and business growth.
  • Deliver better customer satisfaction and experience.
  • Improve your service desk in three areas: people, processes, and technology.
  • Build a tiered service desk model based on the customers and market.
  • Differentiate your service desk offering and stay competitive among peers in the market.

Standardize the Service Desk of Managed Service Providers Research & Tools

1. Standardize the Service Desk of Managed Service Providers – This storyboard will help MSPs to build a standardized and modernized service desk that will be efficient, value driven, and profitable.

Leverage this storyboard to standardize and modernize the service desk of MSPs that delivers high customer satisfaction and experience. A standardized service desk enables MSPs to grow businesses and stay profitable by focusing on and improving people, processes, and technology.

2. Incident Management and Service Desk SOP – A template designed to help service managers kick-start the standardization of service desk processes.

Document process and role expectations to drive consistent and effective incident response.

3. Service Desk Roles and Responsibilities Guide – An analysis tool to determine the right roles and build ownership.

Use the RACI template to determine roles for your service desk initiatives and to build ownership around them. Use the template and replace it with your organization's information.

Unlock a Free Sample

Standardize the Service Desk of Managed Service Providers

Build a value-driven, efficient, and profitable service desk.

Analyst Perspective

Leverage your service desk offering to grow your managed service provider (MSP).

A service desk offering is one of the core IT services that MSPs provide to their clients, contributing notably to their business revenue. Usually, not enough attention is paid to standardizing and modernizing the service desk due to multiple challenges and obstacles within the organization. This results in the loss of untapped opportunities for business growth, better customer experience and value delivery, and more revenue with increased profit margins.

To standardize and modernize the service desk, MSPs must focus on three areas:

  1. People: Build a team of the right people with the right soft and technical skills and training.
  2. Process: Emphasize improving the documentation and implementing standard operating procedures and guidelines at various steps in the defined and tiered service desk.
  3. Technology: Leverage AI and automation to empower your service desk team and boost operational efficiency.

Improvement in these areas enables MSPs to successfully deliver on key performance indicators (KPIs) and comply with service-level agreements (SLAs) for different clients. Overall, this storyboard will help MSPs to build a standardized and modernized service desk that will be efficient, value driven, and profitable.

Photo of Brijesh Kumar

Brijesh Kumar
Research Specialist, Industry Practice
Info-Tech Research Group

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

Not able to meet customer demands and deliver on agreed metrics and KPIs.

Lack of, or inefficient, documentation, processes and policies.

Inefficient ticketing system and lack of collected data for ticket notes.

Lack of coherent communication and delays in response time.

Lack of scalability to meet the increased demand.


Unable to scope expectations of the customer before finalizing SLA.

Lack of soft and technical skills suitable to roles.

Absence of framework or workflows to implement processes and policies.

Lack of latest service desk tools with automation and artificial intelligence ability.

Shortage of technical expertise and headcounts.

Info-Tech’s Approach

Understand why organizations outsource their service desk and what are their expectations.

Differentiate your service desk and recognize how it is different from the help desk.

Continuously focus and improve on three areas: people, processes, and technology.

Build a profitable and tiered service desk model.

Info-Tech Insight

Businesses become more efficient and effective when they explore outsourcing their IT services and service/help desk support. Customer experience is the top business growth driver. MSPs must focus on improving KPIs to provide the best customer experience.

Insight summary

For MSPs, the standardized service desk provides an opportunity to become a trusted partner in IT

MSPs play a crucial role and are perceived as strategic business partners by their clients because of the different engagements at various levels. The service desk is one of the essential IT services that organizations outsource to MSPs. A standardized and modernized MSP service desk helps fulfill customers’ business goals and objectives, making the MSP a trusted IT partner.

Add value to clients by transforming your help desk into a service desk
A proactive approach at the service desk is the key differentiator from the help desk and adds the most value to clients because some of the issues or incidents are resolved before they arise for end users. Customers are willing to pay more for the value that the service desk delivers to clients in comparison to the help desk offering.

Continuously focus on people, processes, and technology improvement
Focus on the three core areas – people, process, and technology – to standardize and modernize your service desk. Continuous improvement in these areas aims to deliver elevated customer satisfaction and experience, which translates into customer retention, business growth, profitability, and scalability.

Key performance indicators and service level agreements are vital
The specific KPIs and SLA compliance are essential measures of the service desk performance of MSPs. It is crucial to revisit and update the SLAs periodically with clients based on their requirements since businesses in different industry verticals continue to evolve in the dynamic market environment

Price your service desk offering based on the value
The best practice to cover a different segment of customers in the market is to offer a three-tier model service desk. This model must offer three kinds of service desk offerings, where the pricing will reflect the value delivered to the client.

MSPs are positioned for growth

Organizations are relying more than ever on MSPs for IT services.

MSP Market

A diagram that shows the amount of MSP market in 2021 and 2028.

MSPs’ global market is rapidly growing at a compound annual growth rate of 11.8%. This growth is a result of several reasons, such as cost reduction, improvement of operation efficiency, IT support, and focus on strategic initiatives.
— Source: GlobeNewswire, 2022

Businesses’ Dependence on MSPs

A diagram that shows 60% of businesses are dependent on MSPs.

More than 60% of businesses are dependent on MSPs for their IT services to stay competitive and stay ahead of competitors.
— Source: GlobeNewswire, 2022

MSPs Mainstay Service Offerings

A diagram that shows 6 different MSPs Mainstay Service Offerings.

Help desk/IT support, network, and cloud services are the top three services offered by MSPs to small and medium-sized companies which outsource their IT services.
— Source: CompTIA, 2022

The service desk is essential to organizations

Business stakeholders rank the service desk as one of the most important core IT services.

Important IT services for business stakeholders:

  1. Network & Comm. Infrastructure
  2. IT Security
  3. Service/Help Desk
  4. Data Quality
  5. Business Application
  6. Devices
  7. Client Facing Technology
  8. Analytical Capabilities
  9. IT Innovation Leadership
  10. Work Orders
  11. Projects
  12. IT Policies
  13. Requirement Gathering

— Source: Info-Tech, CIO-BV Diagnostics 2022 (N=1,582)

Photo of CIO Business Vision

The Info-Tech CIO Business Vision diagnostic helps businesses to identify what is important to them as well as business stakeholders’ satisfaction with core IT services to the organization.

Learn more about the CIO Business Vision Program

Organizations are outsourcing the service desk to MSPs

There are many advantages to outsourcing the service desk.

Outsourcing Advantages

Bring in expertise and knowledge needed to manage tickets according to best-practice guidelines

Reduce timelines for response and resolution

Save on costs for hiring technical and engineers to manage the service desk

Improve productivity and performance by enhancing IT services

Strengthen relationships between IT and business through service level improvement

Flexibility to focus complex projects and higher priority tasks

Speed up desk optimization

Improve end-user satisfaction through efficient IT services

Reduce impact of incidents through effective incident management

Increase service consistency via turnover reduction

Expand coverage hour and access points

Expand languages to service different geographical areas

Outsourcing Disadvantages

Risk to data security if the MSP does not have stringent security measures

Potential misalignment of service desk staff with customers’ business goals and corporate culture

Communication issues arise when customers can not reach IT support with the desired communication channel

Less or no control over IT services, processes, and policies

Potential lower customer satisfaction due to IT services not meeting expectation

Lack of in-depth industry knowledge for certain technologies used in a specific industry

Outsourcing the service desk provides many benefits

A diagram that shows different benefits of service desk outsourcing.

Info-Tech Insight

To provide a service desk as an offering, MSPs must emphasize the benefits of subcontracting a service desk. By taking advantage of these benefits, MSPs can deliver greater value to their clients. MSPs can leverage the benefits offered to their clients to define their success and differentiate themselves among competitors. These benefits should be seen as opportunities by MSPs.

MSP clients have common areas of concern

Customers focus on how to avoid unpleasant service desk experiences with MSPs.

Client Knowledge
MSPs provide generic IT services/support with no deep knowledge and understanding of clients and their specific systems

Work Culture
Significant differences in work culture can be problematic and impact relations between customer and MSP staff

Focus on Growth
When the MSP focuses on growth and only growth, it can compromise the quality of the service desk services

Procedural Structure
Service/help desk providers often lack a procedural structure that is not aligned with internal structure and management

MSPs that lack documentation can have broken and inefficient processes, policies, and services

Hiring Approach
New staff are hired based solely on resumes and certificates, ignoring soft skills like problem-solving and communication skills

MSPs struggle to optimize their service desk

MSPs face challenges that impact the efficiency of their service desk and customer experience/satisfaction.

29% [of MSPs took a] long time to resolve IT requests — Slow response to support requests frustrates customers, and if the MSP is providing IT security services, it can increase security risks. Causes of slow support by MSPs can include using a poor remote support platform or a lack of efficient processes within the MSP technicians.”
– Action1, 2022

One in four SMB would leave their provider for IT service quality issues.
– Action1, 2022


Processes and policies

  • Lack of clear guidelines and standard operating procedures for technicians/personnel to create a uniform support experience.
  • Unable to identify gaps and inefficient areas to improve the help desk or service desk.


  • Lack of ability to document information that helps technicians to resolve tickets efficiently and do their job properly.
  • Lack of technology or tools that keep all documents sorted and in a central location.

Ticketing systems/Ticket notes

  • Lack of business and technical information to understand the impact of the issue on business success and the technical solutions to the issue can lead to inefficient prioritization of tickets.
  • Lack of information and steps if the same issue reoccurs and how it was resolved.


  • Not enough attention is given to the KPIs of the help desk and feedback/suggestions collected from clients after tickets get resolved, which help elevate your client and end-user experience.


  • Lack of ability to support more clients in different industry verticals due to limited industry knowledge and help desk support.

Understand the differences between the service desk and help desk

The differences between the two will help you to determine your client engagement type.

Help Desk

Reactive: Allows you to reactively respond to end-user problems or issues in the short term.

User centric: Mostly focuses on the end user solving the problems.

Task-oriented: Manages incidents and resolves them on a case-by-case basis.

Break-fix model: Responds to fix the issues or incidents as they happen.

Fewer resources: Minimum staff and simple ticketing software can service customers and end users.

Service Desk

Proactive: Enables you to proactively develop solutions and services to help customers for the long-term and short-term.

Business centric: Mostly focuses on business long-term service strategy.

Process-oriented: Manages both incidents and service requests to improve the entire process based on the ITIL framework.

Prevention model: Works beyond issues and incidents management and proactively helps to prevent them in the future.

More resources: Needs additional staff and advanced software to deliver elevated customer and end-user service and experience.

Info-Tech Insight

Depending on what you opt to offer your clients (service or help desk) will define the success and growth of your business. The service desk as a service delivers more value to the clients and end users, and it also translates into better and elevated customer satisfaction and experience.

The service desks of organizations and MSPs have different considerations

Leverage the differences between the two to make a service desk business case.

Internal Service Desk


The organization’s aim is to reduce the cost of IT spending to run a service desk


Adding more team members to the service desk team is not viable due to the increased budget constraints.


The service desk team better understands the technology tools and solutions utilized within the organization.

Service Experience

Focused mostly on resolving IT issues and incidents to keep the lights on for the organization.

External Service Desk

Cost and Revenue

An MSP’s aim is to reduce the operational cost of running a service desk as a service and generate more revenue.


Adding team members to the service desk team is a cost-to-serve when MSPs’ clients and end users go up significantly.


MSP service desk team has a deep understanding of various clients’ technology tools and solutions. The skilled team provides the benefits of deep technical knowledge.

Customer and service experience

Focused on customer service and experience which influence customer retention & business growth.

MSPs must adopt a customer-centric approach

Prioritize delivering excellent customer service to become a successful MSP at the service desk.

A diagram that shows knowledge + response + experience + speed = profit.

Differentiate your service desk offering among competitors

The value of the service desk is determined by customers’ service desk experience and satisfaction.

Customer First

Understand clients’ and end users’ service desk needs and problems. This will help MSPs to deliver on their real issues and challenges.

Reachable and Availability

Customers expect a quick connection when they contact the service desk agent regardless of communication channels used.

Fountain of Knowledge

Agent knowledge plays a crucial role in solving the problems of customers in less time, elevating customer experience and satisfaction.

Deliver Efficiently

Resolve issues and incidents in the first call and continuously improve the resolution time of escalated tickets.

Stay Connected

Ensure the agent stays connected to the end user until the problem is solved, making sure the customer is satisfied with the solution.

Modernize your service desk offering

For MSPs, a modern traditional service desk is the key to success for continuous business improvement and growth.

Traditional Service Desk

The environment is relatively static, and services and service levels remain the same for years.

Continuous improvement is present within the organization and operations, but not at the core.

Does not leverage agile methods to improve and adjust the services.

Lacks or slow in automating front-end self-service and back-end workflows to add value and better customer experience.

Lacks or does not have enough experts with deep and broad knowledge and skills.

Modern Service Desk

The environment is dynamic, and services and service levels are constantly changing.

Continuous improvement is at the core of the organization and its operations and services.

Applies agile methods to do, adjust and improve the services.

Continuously and aggressively automates front-end self-service and back-end workflows to add value and better customer experience.

Hires and develops professionals with deep and broad knowledge and skills.

Focus on three areas to modernize and optimize your service desk

MSPs must focus equally on all three areas.

A diagram that shows technology, people, and process.

“[It is] all about the balance - The PPT framework is all about how the three elements interact. The people do the work. Processes make this work more efficient. Technology helps people do their tasks and also helps automate the processes.”
– Plutora, 2022

The ultimate goal of the service desk is “identifying and resolving issues before end users ever see them.”
– InvGate, 2022

People: The most important part of the service desk

The service desk personnel must have more than just soft and technical skills.

Skills and Knowledge

Customer service
Ability to learn quickly
Work under pressure
Support experience

Specific Skills

Solve complex issues
Continuously improve in an agile way
Contribute to quality, automation initiatives, and shift-left strategy,
Capability to use all channels and tools
Technical knowledge of specific tier support

Knowledge Context

End-user industry
Impact of service disruption on the customer's business
Understand clients’ values, mission, vision, and goals
Critical key times or peak periods for certain systems


Aware of alternatives
Emotional intelligence

Source: LinkedIn Learning, 2021

Customer will never love a company until the employees love it first.” – Steve Jobs

Info-Tech Insight

The service desk personnel’s interactions with end users influence clients’ experience and satisfaction. Hiring people with the right skills and attitude toward their job responsibilities is imperative. Competitive compensation is not enough to recruit talent. MSPs also need to provide growth and an attractive work environment.

People: The roles and responsibilities of the service desk team

Each member of the service desk must understand their defined responsibilities.



Tier 1
Service Desk Technician
  • Ticket intake (initial triage, categorization, and assigning tickets if beyond Tier 1 expertise).
  • Communicate to users whose incidents have been resolved by Tier 1 technicians.
  • Provide deskside support and basic “how-to” training to end users.
  • Verify end users’ entitlements and SLA for compliance, and comply with KPIs specific to clients from various industries.
  • Resolve low-complexity incidents or where a knowledge base enables Tier 1 first-call resolution.
  • Identify opportunities for new knowledge base articles and update them periodically.
Tier 2
Senior Service Desk Technician, Service Desk Supervisor, Systems Administrator (Specialist), App Developer (Specialist)
  • Tier 2 provides all of Tier 1 plus the ability to resolve incidents requiring deeper knowledge.
  • Update assigned ticket (status, action taken, etc.) and create a ticket if contacted directly with an incident.
  • Identify trends in incidents to support problem management.
  • Author, edit, and review knowledge base articles.
  • Build and maintain advanced skill set/knowledge in troubleshooting, infrastructure, and application suite.
  • Escalate to vendors under existing support contracts, tracking and documenting vendor compliance to existing service-level objectives (SLOs).
  • Report to the infrastructure manager or the applications manager.
  • Tier 2 specialists are required when certain permissions or expertise are required beyond the general Tier 2 staff capabilities.
Tier 3
Senior App Developer, Network Engineer
  • Report to the infrastructure manager or the applications manager. Handle the most challenging incidents.
  • Resolve tickets as assigned or escalated based on the area of expertise.
  • Update assigned tickets (e.g., status, actions taken, etc.).
  • Comply with SLO and SLA guidelines (e.g., targets for time to respond).
  • Escalate to vendors under existing support contracts, tracking and documenting vendor compliance to existing SLOs.
  • Make recommendations for additional support contracts, if required.
  • Knowledge sharing, including training Tiers 1 and 2 employees and cross-training peers.
  • Author, edit, and review knowledge base articles.

Download Service Desk Roles and Responsibilities Guide

People: Training elevates better customer and employee experience

Call training is one of the simplest exercises MSPs must do.

A diagram that shows 8 steps of call training.

“The service desk team must use simple and non-technical words/language while helping end users to solve their problems or issues. This will help end users connect better with the service desk team and provide an elevated customer experience.” – Cristina Northcott, Client Success Director, ECLEVA

“It is not a faith in technology. It is faith in people.” – Steve Jobs

People: Manage and optimize resources to support clients

The reactive hours per end user is a critical metric to measure a service desk’s efficiency.

Calculating Reactive Hours per End User per Month (RHEM) is a critical metric that determines staff/resource utilization to resolve tickets per end user.

Formula to calculate RHEM: (Tickets / Endpoint / Month) X Average Resolution Time on Tickets

Improve and utilize: RHEM should enable MSPs to focus on improving ticket handling time and resource utilization.

Reduce reactive time: With proper IT procedures and guidelines, MSPs can lower reactive time by 50% to 75%.

Reducing RHEM enhances customers’ technology experience and satisfaction, allowing MSPs to add more value to end users and charge more for the service desk offering. These result in an overall increase in customer trust and MSPs’ profitability.

Estimate and manage resources: RHEM can help MSPs estimate and manage the number of team members required in the service desk team to serve new and existing clients and their end users.

- Source: TruMethods, 2015; Auvik, 2018

An example of RHEM and support resources utilization.

Process: Define the tiered support model of your service desk

A tiered service desk is required to resolve customer issues and requests in an appropriate and timely fashion.

A diagram that shows the flow of users, ticketing system, tier 1/2/3 support, and customer satisfaction.

A tiered generalist service desk with a first-tier resolution rate greater than 60% has the best operating cost and customer satisfaction of all competing service desk structural models.

Model of a standardized MSP service desk

A diagram that shows a model of a standardized MSP service desk.

Process: End users leverage multiple channels to communicate

Voice call is the preferred communication channel to raise issues or request services.

Voice Calls

Fast: Calling the help desk appears to be a faster and more desired way to report issues and incidents.


Attention: Dropping emails into the help desk tools is the second method to get the technician’s attention to client issues


Personalized: Chatting with customers helps to understand their concerns better, providing timely and personalized help.

— Source: FinancesOnline, 2022

Chatbots and self-service are new channels for customer service
“Reduce ticket volume by 27% with self-service and AI-powered chatbots.” – Freshdesk, 2022
88% of customers expect companies to offer an online self-service portal. – Statista, “Do you expect a brand…”, July 2022

Process: Leverage the shift-left strategy to improve the service desk metrics

Implementation of the shift-left strategy lowers operational costs, reduces resolution time, and elevates end-user satisfaction.

A diagram that shows the impact of a shift-left model vs a traditional tiered model; metrics include cost per ticket, average time to resolve, and end-user satisfaction.

Shift-left strategy:

  • Empower the tier 1 support team to perform tier 2 tasks. This will eliminate the need to escalate calls to tier 2 support until tier 1 cannot resolve the ticket.
  • Implement self-service automation to resolve common issues or tickets. Training end users on using self-service will reduce the number of tickets.
  • Knowledge base documents help end users and tier 1 support resolve issues or tickets quickly. Analyzing tickets and ticket notes is the key to building knowledge base documents.

Download Standardize the Service Desk

Process: Build a ticket classification scheme to produce useful reports

Classification scheme enhances handling of issues or services by service desk staff.

A diagram that shows an example of classification

Concise, easy to navigate, and easy to maintain must be the traits of an effective classification scheme.

Do not have too many options to avoid confusion; too few options provide little value.

Resolving tickets efficiently requires reliable reporting for tickets, which depends on an effective classification scheme.

Call routing and reporting requirements should be your guide while building a classification scheme.

Best practices to keep in mind

Exhaustive and exclusive
The classification scheme must be exhaustive and mutually exclusive. There must be a place for every ticket, and every ticket fits only in one place.

Actual IT assets or services
Ensure the categories in the classification scheme describe the asset or service based on the final resolution, not on how it was reported initially.

Ticket templates
Pre-populated ticket templates with important categories can significantly improve ticket reporting and routing accuracy.

Tiered system
Using a tiered system to classify categories makes navigation easier for agents to select ticket categories.

Miscellaneous categories
Avoid having miscellaneous categories in the classification scheme; otherwise, a decent portion of tickets will end up there.

Download Standardize the Service Desk

Process: Standardization of processes comes with benefits

The success of a tiered service desk model depends on the optimized, standardized, and defined processes.



Workflows for incidents and service request fulfillment. Consistent standardized processes are followed by everyone.
Single service desk tool to manage services and end-user support. Work is recorded in the same place and is easily tracked.
Ticket prioritization guidelines are clear and based on the priority and impact of the issue. Tickets are resolved quickly based on the escalation and priority.
Efficient escalation procedures based on SLA. When and where to escalate tickets are known to everyone.
Track KPIs and metrics to generate in-depth reports to provide operational insights. Metrics & KPIs measure the service-level response of all the service desk support groups.
The defined process to build the targeted knowledge base for technicians to resolve tickets. Knowledge base to Tier 1 can be pushed down by Tiers 2 and 3 to enable higher first call resolution.

Process: Documentation is everything for the service desk

Not only does documentation resolve issues, but it also increases the overall efficiency of a service desk’s operation.

A diagram that shows a centralized documentation system to ensure easy access for the service desk team, including process & procedures, client SLA, ticketing notes, knowledge base, and training material.

Process: Align ticket prioritization scheme with the client’s business requirements

Most IT leaders agree that prioritization is one of the most challenging aspects of IT in general. Always set priorities based on the client’s business needs first.

A example of incident prioritization.

Download Incident Management and Service Desk SOP

Process: Define response and resolution time to establish service-level objectives for clients

Keeping response and resolution time low is crucial for high customer satisfaction.

MSPs must communicate incident/service request response, resolution, and escalation time to their clients clearly in SLA:

  • Response time: Time from when the ticket record is created to the time that you confirm receipt and assignment.
  • Resolution time: Time from when the ticket record is created to the time that the customer has been notified that it is resolved.
  • Escalation time: Maximum amount of time that ticket should be worked on without resolution progress before escalating.

Map various types of tickets into an SLO and escalation timelines to validate whether you would be able to resolve these incidents for your clients.

An example of Example SLO and Escalation Timelines

Download Incident Management and Service Desk SOP

Technology: Choose the right service desk software based on requirements

A service desk software can bottleneck your services to customers – choose it carefully.

Factors to evaluate for an MSP service desk software:

  1. Availability/ responsive support
  2. Solution completeness
  3. Service-aligned cost structure
  4. Ease of use
  5. Easy to implement and integrate
  6. Reporting KPIs
  7. Disaster recovery planning
  8. Daily backup and cloud services
  9. Technical support

Standout features of the service desk

  • Free trial
  • Alerts/escalation
  • Predict issues and problems proactively
  • Problem and incident management
  • Automated ticket routing
  • Customizable brands
  • Custom dashboard and reporting
  • Document storage
  • Email integration
  • Interaction tracking
  • IT asset management
  • ITIL alignment
  • Knowledgebase management
  • Multi-channel communication
  • Network monitoring
  • Support widgets
  • Real-time chat
  • Self-service portal
  • SLA
  • Ticket/issue tracking
  • Ticketing management system
  • Deployment
  • Training
  • Technical support

Technology: Artificial intelligence improves service desk management

Four ways that AI is revolutionizing the service desk and delivering better customer service and support.

24/7 Support

24/7 service desk support can be provided by chatbots to resolve many basic issues of customers. Chatbots leverage AI technology.

“Last year, 88% of customers had at least one conversation with a chatbot.” Chatbots are deployed to reduce the number of tickets raised for common issues around the clock.

— Source: Tidio, 2023

Categorizing & routing

AI improves service desk management by categorizing and routing tickets based on past cases and severity, reducing likelihood of miscommunication.

Average resolution time was reduced from 2.4 hours to 1.4 hours by implementing AI in service desk management by effectively categorizing and routing tickets.

— Source: SpiceWorks, 2022

Decision making

AI provides the necessary information and context to help the service desk staff to take decisions and solve the ticket more effectively and efficiently.

Resolution time improved from 10 min to 1 min or less by leveraging AI virtual agents, which can process the context of issues and queries.

— Source: IBM, 2018

Resolve minor issues

AI can detect minor network or infrastructure issues faster and solve them before they disrupt IT services. If the problem is complex, AI can send an alert to staff.

The service desk received 60% fewer calls because the AI-powered service desk tool identifies and corrects the infrastructure issue in real time before it disrupts IT for the customers.

— Source: IFS Assyst, 2020

Technology: Service desk priorities and trends

Self-service capabilities are becoming prevalent for the service desk.

AI and chatbot technologies have been common trends in the service desk, and they will remain in demand among businesses, including MSPs. Eighty percent of organizations want to leverage chatbot technology. Technology leaders are encouraged to leverage chatbots because of various benefits: 24 hours service, instant response, resolving simple issues or queries quickly, and fast communication.

Select the latest technology: Self-service capabilities, automation capabilities, and integration processes are the key factors that play a vital role in selecting a service desk or an IT service management tool. The top two automation benefits are no human intervention and reduced wait times.

Reduce the number of tickets: One of the goals of integrating AI and self-service technology in service desk tools is to reduce inbound calls and emails by 60% and the number of ticket generation. According to Workativ, simple ticket automation helps offload 30% to 40% of call volume by call deflection.

Technology adoption initiatives: Companies of all sizes are adopting chatbots and AI services at the service desk, indicating what MSPs should be paying attention to and integrating these two technologies into their service desk offerings.

— Source: Workativ, 2022

A diagram that shows different self-serve capabilities, including leveraging chatbots, reducing inbound calls & email, and technology adoption in the service desk.

Top service desk metrics for MSPs

KPIs are inevitably required to improve an MSP service desk operation and performance.


  • Customer satisfaction rate
  • Reopen call %
  • Abandoned tickets %
  • Average time to acknowledge the ticket by Tier 1


  • Average ticket handling time
  • Calls resolved at the first level (first call resolution rate)
  • Average resolution time of tickets
  • Staff utilization


  • % of permanent fix of frequent incidents through root cause analysis
  • Number of services impacted by a problem
  • Time to resolution at level 1, level 2, and level 3
  • SLA compliance rate


  • Lost business revenue
  • Cost per ticket, call/user/agent
  • Failure rate of hardware and software
  • Agent turnaround

Info-Tech Insight

For the service desk, a dashboard is a single spot to view data-driven, clear, and actionable information in the form of KPIs. It is essential to have control over what KPIs and metrics you want to have on the dashboard.

Calculate the service desk KPI metrics

Leverage KPIs and metrics to stay focused and compliant with an SLA.

Average Resolution Time
(Total time taken to resolve tickets in a time period) ÷ (The number of tickets resolved in that time period)

Average Response Time
(Total time taken to respond during the selected time period) ÷ (The number of responses in that time period)

First Call Resolution
[(The number of tickets resolved during the first call) ÷ (The total number of tickets)] x 100

Cost Per Ticket
(Total monthly operating cost of the service desk operation) ÷ (The monthly ticket volume)

Service Desk Utilization
[(Average calls or tickets handled per month) x (Average time it took to handle those calls or tickets)] ÷ [(Number of days worked in a month) x number of work hours in a day x 60 min/hour) x 100

Customer Satisfaction Rating
(Total survey score ÷ Total possible points) x 100

“Working with prospective customers on their objectives helps MSPs determine KPIs and their client expectations.” – Mahmoud Ramin, Senior Research Analyst, Info-Tech Research Group

SLA is key to achieving high client satisfaction

An SLA should be designed in a way where both parties win.

SLA Definition:
“A service level agreement (SLA) is a documented agreement between a service provider and a customer that identifies both the services required and the expected level of service. The agreement varies between vendors, services, and industries.” – BMC

Focus on these factors to comply with an SLA

SLA compliance rate measures how well you are meeting contractually defined customer expectations.”
Formula to calculate SLA compliance rate: (number of tickets where SLA was met / total tickets) * 100
– MSP360


Set realistic and aligned SLAs based on the client’s business, IT capabilities, and desired outcomes.


Establish instructions and SOP to escalate tickets based on the issue or incident severity.


Leverage automated tools/software to systematize the process of routing and assigning tickets.


Train the staff properly to make all the processes more efficient and increase customer experience.


Communicate the SLAs and their risks of violation to staff and set accountability in case of SLA violation.

Info-Tech Insight

Promise what you can deliver to your client based on your technical and personnel capabilities. Otherwise, it will impact customer satisfaction and client retention, affecting business growth.

Profitability is an outcome of a successful service desk

Standardization, optimization, and modernization of the service desk result in profitability.

Customer satisfaction

MSPs increase the chances of retaining existing customers by providing excellent customer satisfaction and experience. This translates to more profit as compared to adding new customers. Higher satisfaction leads to higher loyalty and higher referrals.

Resource optimization

Resource optimization enables MSPs to resolve tickets profitably by managing and improving resources. Calculation of reactive hours per user per month allows MSPs to determine resource utilization to resolve tickets for a client.

Proactive approach

A proactive approach reduces the time to resolve tickets and provides additional time to focus on high-value services, tasks, or strategies. Customers are willing to pay more for a seamless technology experience.

Processes & documentation

MSPs improve service desk operations and efficiency by standardizing processes and documentation, and choosing the right technology tools. This also results in business profitability through saving time, consistent service delivery, and scalability.

Value-based pricing

Value-based pricing of the service desk increases business revenue and profit. To justify the pricing, MSPs must focus on how they differentiate from competitors, what client problems they solve, and the returns on investment.

Download Priced to Win: Build an Optimized Pricing Strategy

Service desk billing for MSPs

Per ticket, per user, and flat fees are the most suitable ways to invoice customers.

Per ticket

Easy and commonly used: For clients and MSPs, it is easy to understand, calculate, and keep track of tickets. The per-ticket billing model benefits MSPs who typically target small and medium businesses.

Financial incentive: An MSP can field high ticket volumes to generate more revenue per month. Higher operational efficiency and resolving most of the tickets at the first call or Tier 1 are desired to achieve higher revenue and profit.

Revenue fluctuation: The disadvantage for MSPs is that revenue is dependent on the number of tickets raised by clients or end users. This means MSP revenue is not fixed at the end of every month. The client may try to raise a few tickets.

Per user

Predictable cost: This billing model works for clients or end users who want predictable monthly costs based on the number of users. MSPs incur fixed monthly bills from clients.

Build a pack of five units: MSPs must charge clients per user in the pack of five units. This will help MSPs to generate additional revenue from unused seats and have less impact on the monthly bill due to the occasional turnover of end users within a client organization.

Risk of user fluctuation: The cost fluctuation happens only in the case of a change in a client’s number of users. If various clients experience changes in headcount often, it may impact MSPs’ revenue significantly.

Flat fee

Fixed cost: This method allows MSPs to give the exact price of the service desk that they like to clients. MSPs guarantee 100% profitability regardless of the number of tickets, users, and devices.

Strategic partnership: An MSP provides an aligned service desk strategy with the client’s business goals while meeting the IT needs of the organization. The price is usually based on value delivery and business outcomes.

Lack of alignment: The client must clearly understand and be aware of what problems the MSP is solving and what value they are bringing through their service desk offerings. The onus is on MSP to communicate the service desk value proposition to the client.

Download Priced to Win: Build an Optimized Pricing Strategy

The tiered model meets the need and provides value to clients

Premium service desk offerings allow MSPs to charge premium prices and make more profit.

Cost to value: Usually, offerings are packaged into three categories: good, better, and best. “Good” will indicate the cost-friendly and limited value package, whereas the “Best” bundle will be the most expensive and deliver the most value to clients.

Flexibility to fit needs: Tier-based model gives MSPs the flexibility to design various bundles that suit different clients, fulfilling their demands and requirements.

Favorable: This is one of the most favored offering model among MSPs. It is easy to build, and clients understand the model without effort.

Differentiator: MSPs can differentiate themselves from competitors in the market by strategizing their offerings into tier systems that deliver distinctive value to clients.

“Organizations would like to know what they are paying for. Providing various service provisioning models helps prospective clients to assess their requirements against service cost and select the best option that will fulfill their requirements.”
– Mahmoud Ramin, Senior Research Analyst, Info-Tech Research Group

An example of tiered model.

Download Priced to Win: Build an Optimized Pricing Strategy

Build a standardized and modernized service desk to maximize its value and profit

The central idea of the service must be value delivery and a better end-user experience for clients.

Team building

Create a team of the right people with various soft and technical skills, and who focus on adding value and elevating the customer experience.

Documentation of processes and policies

Set up standard operation procedures, guidelines, and instructions, which can be followed by the whole team to unify team effort in the same direction.

Technology selection

Deliver KPIs and comply with SLA with the help of the right technology and tools, elevating client experiences and satisfaction.

Serve the service desk offering to customers

Clients must receive better experience and satisfaction than from competitors, increasing business growth, revenue, and profit.

Leverage additional ready-to-use deliverables

Standardize the service desk and outsource the service blueprints are accompanied by supporting deliverables to help you accomplish desired outcomes for you and your customers

Photo of Standardize the Service Desk

Ticket and Call Quality Assessment Tool and Service Desk Workflows

Use this tool to help review the quality of tickets handled by agents and discuss each technician's technical capabilities to handle tickets. The Workflow Library provides examples of typical workflows that make up the bulk of the incident management and request fulfillment processes at the service desk.

Download Standardize the Service Desk

Photo of Outsource the Service Desk

MSP Interview Questions and Service Desk Efficiency Calculator

This template provides a set of questions you may wish to ask the MSPs on your shortlist. This excel tool will help you calculate service desk efficiency based on staffing, ticket resolution, and management efficiency.

Download Outsource the Service Desk

Photo of Service Desk SOP.

Key deliverable: Service Desk SOP

A template designed to help service managers kick-start the standardization of service desk processes.

Download Service Desk SOP

Research Contributors and Experts

Mahmoud Ramin
Senior Research Analyst, Infrastructure and Operations
Info-Tech Research Group

Fred Chagnon
Principal Research Director, Industry Practice
Info-Tech Research Group

Rob Redford
Practice Lead, Research - Industry
Info-Tech Research Group

Caleb Collis
Strategy Officer
Electronics Strategies, Inc

Cristina Northcott
Client Success Director


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  • Cristina Northcott, CEO, Business Strategist, ECLEVA
  • Caleb Collis, Strategy Officer, Electronics Strategies, Inc
  • Mahmoud Ramin, Senior Research Analyst, Info-Tech Research Group
  • Rob Redford, Practice Lead, Research – Industry, Info-Tech Research Group
  • Fred Chagnon, Principal Research Director, Industry Practice, Info-Tech Research Group
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