Understanding Customer Support SLAs: Maximizing Satisfaction
We’ve all been there. Unlocking our phone, opening the Uber or Lyft app, and ordering a ride.
When we do so, both the driver and rider are agreeing to certain terms and conditions: picking the rider up within a designated time frame, how much the trip should cost, an estimated arrival time, and delivering the rider to their destination safely.
This agreement of sorts is similar to Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which ensures service obligations and promises are kept. In the customer support space, a contractual agreement between the provider and customer is vital to the success of the relationship - especially because keeping up with customer demands can be challenging.
In short, an SLA outlines the level of services a provider is obligated to perform for their customer. It defines the rights and responsibilities of both parties and sets expectations for how problems will be resolved.
Let's examine SLAs more closely so we can learn to manage them effectively and provide our customers with the care they need.
What is SLA in customer support? A customer support SLA is a set of service-related goals. These goals are created by a company to measure the outcome of their processes. It should also include how the service provider will handle any issues that arise and any potential penalties for not meeting the agreed-upon service levels.
SLAs often address response and resolution times for support tickets. They typically outline how quickly a reply is expected, and how quickly the ticket should be closed. For example, a SLA may indicate that 90% of support requests received (on a normal support day) will have a response within 6 hours.
Many companies also use SLAs to organize their support tickets and better understand customers. If you're looking for a simple service level agreement template, then look no further! Our sample SLA contract outlines everything you need for success and should be edited to fit your specific needs.
Why are SLAs important? – Simply put, SLAs provide companies with a standard to hold each other accountable to, regarding customer support efforts. They also create goals for a customer service agent to adhere to so they remain productive. Most importantly, they can prove that negotiated promises between companies are being kept.
Failing to meet the SLA is known as an SLA violation. Depending on the agreement, this can result in a payment of cash or a discount for the customer. This compensation serves to accommodate any business inconveniences that may occur from the poor support experience.
What is an SLA example? – One of the most common examples of SLAs is based around ticket severity types (low/normal/high/urgent). Typically, different response and resolution times are assigned depending on the ticket severity type.
It should be noted however, that some companies prefer to have “private” and “public” SLAs. The public Service Level Agreement (SLA) provided to the customer will be different from the private SLA. This private SLA is for internal use only.
For example, the public SLA may state that all tickets will receive a response within 6 hours, but the private SLA requires a 4 hour response. The vendor has the ability to respond faster than expected. This makes them look better to customers and follows the "under promise and over deliver" scenario.
How can you efficiently manage SLAs? – Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to effectively track and manage SLAs - with the right customer support software. Many B2B (business to business) companies are looking to simplify SLA management by utilizing capabilities found within customer support software solutions.
Some key features to look for in an efficient SLA management solution include:
- Customization – Find a customer service software that allows you to set up SLAs in a way that matches your agreement structure. Refuse to accept a system that requires you to make something unsuitable work.
- Pause capabilities – It’s common for companies to agree to not enforce SLAs on certain days like weekends or holidays. This is a common usage of “pausing” SLAs so violations don’t wrongfully occur.
- Custom hours – Having a system that accounts for different hours of operation and time zones is beneficial for customer service agents. This ensures they do not have to star up late to attend to low-priority tickets.
- Product specific options – Some products are more critical to customers than others. Software that enables the production of varying SLAs based on separate products is essential. It allows agents to prioritize their time effectively.
- Displaying violations – It’s important to see exactly how often agreements are not being met. Ensure your SLA solution can report on any violations. If possible, it should provide details about these violations specific to the company or customers.
Pro-tip: make sure your software has SLA monitoring so you are alerted on quickly approaching deadlines or violations.
- SLA cloning – When you are looking to make slight modifications to an already existing SLA, save yourself time by choosing a customer support software that has the ability to "clone" the existing SLA. This makes the process much easier and quicker.
To summarize, SLAs can be the backbone of customer support relationships between two companies. Creating and managing SLAs is important. It ensures that you meet the expectations of your agreements. It also holds you accountable.
Beginning to use SLAs can be effortless when your customer service software facilitates the process; guaranteeing your support team maintains positive customer relationships.