Business

SLA: Key to Efficiency, or a Support Team’s Worst Nightmare?

A business can never succeed without a service level agreement that is fair and doesn’t seek to exploit the customer support agents. Irrespective of the support software used, it is of paramount importance for a business to have a service level agreement that is set at the right interval. While businesses have high expectations from their customer support representatives, support agents have been found to not perform well under pressure. Once your customer support agents are nervous, your customers will receive answers with inadequate information and your entire business will encounter a challenge.

What is Service Level Agreement?

Service Level Agreement (SLA) can be defined as a contract between the end user and the service provider. Even though the SLAs are often based on the output received, they don’t take into account the method in which the SLA is delivered. This arrangement of SLA remains instrumental in making sure that the targeted amount of tickets raised are answered by your customer support agents.

Service Level Agreement is often determined by a set of metrics which help the business to understand whether the SLA is effective or not. The quotient of reliability is one of the most important metrics here. In addition, other elements that determine the effectiveness of SLA include responsiveness, procedure for reporting issues, monitoring and reporting etc. 

What are the Different Types of Service Level Agreement?

  • Corporate Level: The corporate level SLA is aimed at covering the issues related to the business or organization itself.
  • Customer Level: Customer level SLA deals with customers and ensures a better customer experience.
  • Service Level: Service Level SLA seeks to resolve the issues pertaining to services related to customers.

Having the right SLA is a daunting task and many businesses suffer from not having one in place. Here is what you need to keep in mind when it comes to having a right SLA:

Understanding the Capacity: It is absolutely important that you understand the capacity of your team members. In a bid to understand the ability of your team, you need to take into account certain factors such as average response time, demanding sections, problematic issues and so on. After evaluating your team, you will have an idea about what is the maximum that your team can achieve on regular basis. Businesses often try to push the customer service representatives without even understanding their level of proficiency. Therefore you should always measure the efficiency and get any feedback that your team might want to provide you with.

Using More than One SLA: You need to craft different SLAs based on the situation and the need. You need to develop a fair understanding of which department requires a robust SLA and which department needs an easy-to-use SLA. Making the SLA same for departments across the business is not the way to success. You might think about making an easier SLA for your customer support team whereas your IT department might need a strong SLA in order to solve issues quickly.

Understand the Competition: The key to having a correct SLA is the cognizance of the environment that exists in your category. In this era of internet, there will always be a bunch of companies who will be at the first place to beat you. Therefore you need to have an in-depth understanding of the customer experience that these competitor businesses are offering. One of the most appropriate ways to do this is to go for mystery shopping. Once you have the necessary feedback from their customers through any channel, you will be able to understand the existing loopholes in your system. Now you can do everything within your capacity to make changes that will help your business to grow.

A Detailed Analysis: A detailed analysis is what you need in order to develop a correct SLA. Businesses having appropriate SLAs always consider doing more research about the entire scenario. There will always be some point where you doing more than you are expected to do which doesn’t enable you to do much where it is required. Identifying these places of overdue is very crucial in coming up with the right SLA. With the necessary feedback from your team, you will be able to recognize what needs to be fixed immediately.

Human Touch: In this age of automation, perhaps what customers miss most is the human touch. Both automation and algorithm make it easy for you to run your business. But computers do not come with empathy and human emotions. So basically you need to identify the situations in which you should intervene. Some situations might not require you to give that human touch whereas some might demand it strongly. You will need to use your common sense more than SLAs in order to be successful. For example, it is never wise to make a customer wait 48 hours to have a response just because you have an SLA in place. Customer support agents adept at using customer service skills will be more than happy to have more clarity on the escalation route and access to experts. Staying connected to your customer support agents is the key.

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A digital marketer and an occasional content writer

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