In our series of posts concerning SLM, SLAs, etc. we have started considering aspects of traditional SLM that lead us astray. We continue with the quantitative versus qualitative discussion.
Lack of representativeness
The reason for defining metrics and KPIs was to measure the quality of a service. Quality is an abstract and broad notion that may have a subjective connotation that is hard to put in words. In most cases, KPIs are a representation of an aspect of the service, not the quality of the service as a whole. Performance related metrics that deal with speed or turnover, for instance, are often used as KPIs (see examples 1, 2, 4, 5).
Performance (typically measured by the quantitative types of metrics, see here) is only part of the quality that is expected. Consider the following two examples:
A ticket can be solved in the requested amount of time but using a temporary solution. Overall quality is suffering, having an impact on customer satisfaction.
The time on hold at a service desk is too high according to company standards, but most cases are resolved during this one call meaning that the effort pays and customers are positive about the service.
In other words, the lack of representation can go both ways: the quality may be higher or lower than expected, based on the performance KPI.
Another example: It is true that, on average, a customer that has to wait long on the phone before getting someone on the phone will likely be less happy than someone who does not have to wait at all. It is true that an IT issue that is resolved in 1 hour will be more appreciated than one that takes 2 days. But living in the illusion that fixing all IT incidents within an hour is the way to have a perfect IT service desk, is doomed to fail.