Lower MTTR and cost per ticket with AI-driven automation

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While many aspects of ITSM have changed over the years, incident management remains one of the most critical IT support processes in nearly every organization.

Service degradations and outages can significantly impact both IT and business operations. Thus, IT teams must accurately measure incident response time to control cost and quality of service.

Two of the most important incident management metrics for IT to measure are mean time to resolution ( MTTR ) and cost per ticket, as their impact on IT staff and business productivity are significant and interrelated.

Optimizing one of these metrics in sacrifice of the other often results in unintended consequences.

Productivity on hold

MTTR measures the amount of time it takes to get a system or service operational after an incident is submitted. The MTTR metric is core to any incident management practice, as it directly impacts customer satisfaction. In the time between an incident being submitted and resolved, employees may either be completely without service or left to use workarounds.

Depending on the average number of incidents an organization receives, staying on top of them can be an uphill battle. And the longer it takes for issues to be resolved, the more impact they have on the business’ productivity and ultimately its bottom-line.

Finding ways to lower MTTR is key in maintaining the value of the service desk, particularly in terms of implementing processes and tools that streamline incident response and remediation as well as identifying trends to mitigate future issues.

Time is money

Cost per ticket is commonly measured by the total monthly operating expense of a service desk divided by its monthly ticket volume.

A recent HDI study found that the average cost per service desk ticket, in North America (NA) is $15.56. Cost per ticket increases significantly each time the incident is escalated. Industry averages place the cost per ticket for Level 3 and field support staff in NA in the range of $80- $100+.

IT service and support is typically a manual, labor intensive function. Likewise, most of the costs associated with operating a service desk are personnel related (51.4% for agent salaries and benefits alone), according to HDI. Additionally, there are also indirect costs for supervisors/managers, equipment, facilities and training etc., that must be calculated into the cost per ticket metric.


The faster the service desk’s MTTR, the lower its cost per ticket. However, a lower cost per ticket that’s achieved by compromising service levels or neglecting customer service will face diminishing returns in terms of customer sat scores and employee productivity.

Likewise, factors like service desk staff turnover and the ratio of agents to total employee headcount weigh heavily on an organization’s MTTR and cost per ticket. In the case of turnover, finding a suitable candidate, conducting background checks and training them requires significant resources and budget. What’s more, IT organizations must account for these investments prior to them having a direct/positive impact on their incident management function.

According to HDI, on average, it costs about $12,000 to replace a single service desk FTE in North America.

Modernizing incident management with AI-driven automation

Many service desks have staff dedicated to categorizing and routing incidents. Not only is this work mundane, it’s also time consuming, error prone and expensive. Even the most seasoned service desk agents can find it challenging to determine the right categories and assignment groups for their  organization’s wide-range of ticket types.

A key benefit of AI-driven automaton is its ability to surface and correlate useful data (i.e, employee ID, asset tags, contact information and related incident details) from multiple systems and auto-populate it into incident records, enabling faster and more accurate ticket processing. Additionally, such information can be used to fully automate incident management processes such as ticket categorization, prioritization and even remediation in real-time.

AI-driven automation not only allows IT to remediate incidents faster (reducing MTTR) and better utilize its staff/resources (reducing cost per ticket) but, equally, if not more importantly, it improves customer satisfaction and productivity. AI-driven automation benefits employees, makes the business more profitable, and enables IT to spend more time driving technology strategy.




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Robert Young

Robert Young is the Senior Director of Product Marketing at Astound, a company focused on automating IT service and support using AI and NLP. Robert has two decades of experience in ITSM, including 5 years at IDC as Research Director for ITSM and Client Virtualization Software. He also previously held IT operations and knowledge management positions at several large enterprises and while on active duty with the U.S. Air Force. Robert continually looks at how cloud, mobile, and AI technologies are changing not only how users interact with devices, but also how IT organizations interact with their customers.