7 Questions To Ask When Developing An Ironclad SLA
Is developing an SLA worth the time and effort?
It is if you want to boost customer satisfaction.
SLAs are especially critical when outsourcing inbound call center services as well as help desk and tech support services.
Outsourcing can help you boost customer satisfaction—especially if customer service isn’t a competency for you.
To get the most from outsourcing these services, you need to develop a service level agreement (SLA) that does exactly what you want it to do.
In general, SLAs should
- Secure performance commitments as measured against key metrics
- Create incentives for providers to meet these commitments
- Generate options to help you take corrective action for deficient performance
But you can’t achieve these things if you don’t create an SLA that’s in your service provider’s best interests. A provider-favorable SLA reduces the provider’s incentives to perform well.
Instead, create an ironclad SLS that favors you. The SLA should contain goals, commitments, options, and incentives that contribute to your company’s short- and long-term success.
The key to doing this is asking the right questions before negotiating an SLA. Below are 7 critical questions you need to answer to develop an ironclad SLA favorable to you:
1. What service levels do you want to include in your SLA?
Quality, speed, availability, capacity, and reliability—all are key things you can measure in your SLA. So are things like efficiency, effectiveness, timeliness, and user friendliness. These capabilities can help boost customer service and satisfaction.
But you need to nail down exactly what it is you want to measure and how you’ll measure it before creating an SLA. Make sure there’s a strong correlation between what you value and what the provider delivers.
2. What specifically will each service level measure?
You need to define precisely what each of the service levels measure. Otherwise, you create “vulnerabilities” that providers can exploit. To eliminate SLA vulnerabilities, define clear standards that measure each service level and a formula for calculating the end result.
3. How will you measure each service level?
A service level that can’t be measured specifically invites problems. So make sure you define a specific method for measuring each key service level in your SLA. This sets the bar for your provider. Key issues to keep when mind defining methods include accuracy, cost, and visibility.
4. How long is the measurement period?
This is the time horizon for provider performance. Usually, it’s monthly or quarterly. But it can be longer. Include how much time is in any measurement period. But remember, shorter periods give providers a “fresh” start more often than longer periods.
5. What reports will the provider produce?
Specify what reports your provider must give you for each measurement period. You want reports that are clear, useful, and timely. Also, defining the information that is to appear on the reports, like trends for key service levels, eliminates confusion.
6. What service level adjustments will there be?
Make sure you include automatic adjustments to your service levels. These are especially critical if you want to see steady improvement in performance to meet a benchmark, like keeping pace with the marketplace.
7. What credits do you want to provide in the agreement?
Credits are what the provider gives you after a service-level failure or performance dips below a certain standard. The credits can come in the form of either a check or additional service. Both reduce the effective price of the services and the supplier’s profit margin.
These 7 questions are just some of the key questions you need to answer before heading into a deal negotiating meeting with your service provider.
But keep one thing in mind: Negotiating an ironclad SLA is only a start to boosting the levels of customer service and satisfaction that will boost your company to the next level.
Let us put our proven experience in providing tech support for small and medium size companies to work for you. Request a quote from our sales team.