To have a successful business, you have to satisfy customers’ expectations. Which means that first, you have to make it clear what your customers can expect of you. In this blog, I am going to explain why a formal SLA is necessary to your company’s customer service operations.
What is SLA?
SLA is an acronym for service-level agreement. It is an agreement between a company and its customers on what products or services the company will provide them and the quality they can expect. It’s a contract with a particular set of standards concerning the service, as well as what happens when those standards are not met. A service-level agreement can also be used internally in a company, such as between departments. With an SLA, everyone knows what to expect, what is expected of them, and how to remedy the situation if those expectations fall short.
Components of SLAs
The following are some of the common components of SLA,
The agreement overview includes details such as the groups involved, dates, and the general terms of the contract.
The service terms are details of the services to be provided by and for whom, when, and under what circumstances. They can also include the details for services that won’t be provided. They set the responsibilities for all involved parties. These services also include details like security measures all signatories of the contract must take.
With the terms of service set, there needs to be an agreed-upon way to measure whether or not the parties involved are meeting those terms. Usually, this involves metrics and consensus on how and where they will be tracked and reported.
Now that the expectations for and of all parties are written out, the consequences of not meeting those expectations need to be detailed. This might include compensation and discounts. There also need to be plans for exceptions laid out for unforeseeable circumstances that may prevent one side or the other from meeting their obligations.
Review and termination
Agreements for review and termination specify how and when your agreement will be modified, if necessary, as well as how the agreement may be terminated. The latter includes natural expiration and situations in which early termination is acceptable, as well as the processes for both.
Reasons you need an SLA in customer service
An SLA lays a solid foundation for your growing business. The following are the most important reasons why you need an SLA in your customer service system.
1. Clarify expectations
SLAs help in defining clear expectations for performance and relationships in quantifiable and reliable terms. Additionally, SLA helps keep the all parties accountable for delivering on their contracts, so there are no surprises.
2. Define customer service needs
An SLA defines your client’s customer service and support requirements. Your teams can better understand the client’s priorities and expectations, thus helping you to plan effectively when problems arise.
3. Track performance goals
SLAs define and track performance standards with metrics based on your current level and goals. Agents know where they stand and what level of performance is expected of them. Team leads can set realistic goals and communicate more accurate timelines to customers when issues arise. An SLA specifies the frequency and types of reports tracked.
4. Outline solutions for underperformance
SLAs include penalties for failing to meet expectations. Additionally, the agreements made with your clients offer solutions if either of you fall short, thus defining dispute resolution processes.
5. Build trust
By clearly defining your obligations to your clients in a SLA, you can engender confidence among both current and potential customers and demonstrate your dedication to meeting their needs. An SLA is your company’s commitment to accountability, giving your clients peace of mind. They have faith in your dependability because the signed agreement specifies the penalties for breaking your (and their) ends of the deal.
6. Create new business opportunities
All clients need a good relationship with companies with which they do business. In most cases, clients switch companies if their needs are unmet and they do not get enough personal attention. These agreements can be powerful tools for eliminating bad feelings in your customers caused by ambiguity in the service and attention they can expect. By sticking with your agreement terms and creating transparency in your client relationships, you build a reputation for accountability and reliability in the market.
In summary, an SLA is a tool you can use to help deliver the best customer experience. By adhering to a well-defined SLA, your company’s reputation becomes stellar, which attracts more customers, thus helping your business to grow.