a call center headset haloed by business iconography with a green box reading in white text BI in help desks #ZohoEnterpriseInsights

Like many systems that enable an organization to function on a daily basis, help desk and service desk solutions are not being leveraged as the valuable source of business intelligence that they are. Company representatives interact with customers, resolve as many tickets as possible, and move on. But, in doing so, they overlook the massive value that sits in a service desk.

The data waiting to be extracted from customer service tickets can be the fuel on which BI runs.

Low-code, easy-to-understand BI is where every forward-thinking business is headed. Uncovering the most valuable data is easier than ever in increasingly interconnected systems. Using that data to reprioritize and optimize efforts should be similarly achievable.

Becoming a more efficient solution provider—by gaining insights into the customer, the organization's business practices, and the product itself—results in more than customer satisfaction. As good as it feels to know that a customer is happy with the product, real business value is at stake. According to McKinsey, CX improvements lead to increased revenues and profitability.

Improving the visibility and usefulness of data already sitting in a help desk is one of the quickest ways to improve an organization's bottom line.

Insights into the customer  

More than identifying the average user—which can be easily accomplished with a well-organized CRM—a help desk offers unique insight into power users.

The people motivated enough to report issues or request changes are a free source of data not only on the product itself—more about that later—but about . One of the first, most basic datapoints that a service ticket provides is its source.

Most service desks are capable of aggregating conversations from a variety of channels, because first response time (FRT) is one of the only metrics of success that a support team can directly control. The faster the receipt, the faster the response. But tracking whether outreach came from social media, email, a phone call, or a website form is the only the most basic BI that a ticket can provide.

Understanding where the customer base is most active and most responsive enables sales, marketing, and administrative teams to adjust priorities accordingly.

Combining encrypted and anonymized demographic data (female, 25-50, from Missouri, employed full-time) with activity data (works primarily from home, prefers texting over phone calls, active on LinkedIn but not Facebook) helps everyone across the organization. Marketing knows better how to attract similar personas. Sales knows better how to reach out for upselling. Administration knows better how to budget all of the above activity.

To achieve this level of insight, leaders across departments need to collaborate, likely using a CIO as intermediary and administrator, to connect all customer tracking systems to a central analytics and reporting platform.

The challenge with setting up this central repository for all customer information is finding integrations or building custom modules to make the data sources play nicely with each other. Connecting datapoints and tables across systems becomes more complicated with every additional customization.

An IT service provider to schools needs a service desk that recognizes the same complex hierarchy of room, facility, campus, district, and state established in the CRM. Robust search functionalities make the connection between these datasets quicker and more seamless, so updates in one system are automatically reflected in all others.

In addition to the valuable insights service desks offer  customer interactions with the company, support tickets are full of data that can help improve the company itself.

Insights into the organization  

Service desks are a dynamic source of data about a company's efficiency, as well as the pathways to improving it.

Whether or not it's necessary to undertake the kind of comprehensive process mining common to automation initiatives, borrowing from that methodology is a great place to start. Service desk data can help identify bottlenecks to be removed or circumvented. How often are manual interventions the means of addressing a customer concern? Can that process be automated to address concerns before they recur?

As with customer behavioral data, the activity patterns of company representatives may not be obvious at first glance, but aggregating data can also offer insight into employee workflows.

Sascha has the fastest average resolution time but the lowest overall ticket ownership. That issue is easily addressed in a service desk system with automated, round robin ticket assignment. Org-wide first contact resolution being low is thornier to resolve, but properly calibrated analytics highlight the issue, and audit logs provide a starting point for resolution.

And—as anyone working a service desk knows—sometimes problems can't be completely resolved. Understanding failures is essential to desk-related activity, like SLA tracking. Breaches and violations are inevitable, but identifying their cause helps prevent them from recurring.

A blank spot in the data is likewise inevitable, but it, too, offers an obvious area of improvement. Filling in missing data on tickets that were not closed in the ideal timeframe is an instructive exercise for customer success leadership. But without clear analytics, those inefficiencies might not be obvious to leaders or anybody else.

The more a centralized analytics platform can collect and report these datapoints automatically, the better.

It may be possible for a savvy educational IT services firm to task a data scientist with writing some code that identifies every support ticket submitted in the morning. However, a service desk that comes with those analytics ready out of the box—and comparable with other metrics to show the relationship of time received and customer satisfaction scores—saves that data scientist's time and effort for more valuable tasks.

At the very least, the system ought to have some AI functionality built in to assist users in turning their raw data into usable, visualized analytics. Using readily available tools, leadership can create a helpfully visual representation for the entire organization into

Understanding how much money an account is bringing in helps gauge the amount of resources that ought to be invested back into it. Every customer should be encouraged to self-educate and solve problems themselves, but that goes double for accounts that show no signs of growth.

Time saved across the organization can be redirected toward improving the offerings that are attracting customers—and attracting their feedback in the service desk.

Insights into the product  

The most common usage of a customer success team's data is to improve the customer-facing product, but that ignores the data's ability to suggest improvements for the help desk itself.

The customer success team will always have better insights into how ticket IDs ought to be customized than the tech team setting up the system. Letting them establish those standard practices—and constantly experiment with new approaches in a sandbox environment that won't affect existing customer data—is essential to internal success.

The way Sascha has her dashboard laid out might not be best for the team or the organization overall. She might greatly prefer certain integrations that no one else needs. The efficiency of her approach will be clear only after analyzing the data on her help desk usage and results. With that analysis in hand, leadership can determine which of the habits of this individual contributor might need correction and which might be helpful for the rest of the organization.

Utilizing a service desk with a built-in API dashboard allows support and IT managers to track how data is flowing into and out of the system. More than tracking API credits used to avoid paying for overages, this simple analytics tool can provide significant BI.

Determining which processes and apps are requiring the greatest effort and which are driving the greatest value allows the organization to cut costs or reprioritize efforts.

An environment where this kind of constant review and revision is encouraged—both in terms of the digital sandbox and the organizational culture—is transformative for employees and customers alike.

Connecting a service desk to an analytics platform helps everyone involved in customer success get to the value as quickly as possible. Fewer steps means less menial work.

This frees up the people implementing and overseeing their desk solution for more complex and interesting programming and engineering. As a consequence, the people using the service desk are free to provide more comprehensive solutions to customers.

More satisfied employees create more satisfied customers, and more satisfied customers create more value for the enterprise. When that value is reinvested in the employees, the cycle continues, and everyone's satisfaction with the system constantly improves. 


Zoho offers a suite of intelligent enterprise business software, including an award-winning CRM suite, the industry's only comprehensive analytics and BI platform, and a powerful low-code development ecosystem.